Tips From the Twitter Elite

The Who's Who of twitter were out in full force at this week's 140 Conference at the Los Angeles Skirball Center. I got to heckle speakers with @adventuregirl (+1 million followers), talk branding strategy with @ijustine (700,000 followers), and speak on a panel with @pistachio (author of Twitter for Dummies).

I gathered a few unique insights from these twitter elite, and wanted to share them with my readers:.

1). Tweeting is a profession: both @adventuregirl and @ijustine spoke of twitter as a full time job, and admitted to being constantly connected to their computer. Unless you're already an A-list celebrity, the twitter elite rose to fame through hundreds of hours of painstaking dedication (and, if you are an A-list celebrity, thank you for reading my blog and I'd like to have my own reality show :) ).

2). Give more than thou receive: Both the traditional celebrities and the Internet celebrities were unanimous on one strategy: promote others more than you promote yourself.

3). Be undeniably genuine: @pistachio and @obamagardens, both of whom raised much of their $100,000+ for charity with under 5,000 followers, used multimedia to display themselves as the passionate givers they actually are. @pistachio quickly raised a crucial $2,000 to meet a deadline by pleading with fans on ustream. @obamagardens snaps candid photos of smiling people holding his gorgeous flower bouquets (notice the blurry one of Tony Robbins’ wife).

4). Thank (nearly) every @reply or retweet: @ijustine stunned the celebrity panel when she admitted to personally thanking the thousands of people who mention her on twitter (a fact which she had to reaffirm after several probing questions of disbelief). How is this possible to do without clogging up one’s twitter stream with those annoying @replys? A couple of ways:

a). Send a direct message "thank you."

b). Open an alternative account for use with @replys

c). Use a clever trick: go to In the panel, search your twitter name and copy the URL from the results. Then, shorten the URL at and say something like "Thanks to all the great comments: please check these wonderful peeps"

5). Keep it simple: No fancy software is needed to manage +1 million followers. Some just use; I heard some use tweetdeck.

Well, I for one am taking this advice and joining up a charitable cause at Stephen Colbert’s Donor’s Choose "Social Media Challenge." Feel Free to join the 140 Twitter Conference group, start your own group, or experiment with an entirely different charity. @reply me with your experience, and, of course, I’ll be sure to respond back,

Greg Ferenstein

Follow Me on Twitter

Add New Comment


  • Rodger Banister

    Hi Greg,

    Great article. #2 really hit home for me. So many people, in my opinion, misuse Twitter as a self-promotional tool. They tweet constantly (about anything) and never take the time to read anyone else's tweets, or use this social media tool to create a dialogue. They don't seem to understand that by doing so, they actually make their tweets less compelling, instead of more so.

    If you have time, I wrote a short blog post about the 9 signs you're an over-tweeter. Please let me know what you think -

  • Kevin Ohannessian

    Tony, thanks for your (very) thorough comments. I agree that quality followers are infinitely more important than the empty masses who never listen. In fact, people who raised the most money for the Donor's Choose media challenge were often small-time bloggers with a small, committed following. I hear the celebrity bloggers had a much harder time.


  • John McTigue

    If you have thousands of followers, you can't possibly keep up with the stream using Twitter alone. I use Tweetdeck to monitor in real time, select my trusted sources and view them in a separate group column, and I monitor important topics in more columns. At a glance I got up-to-the-minute updates organized in a way that makes sense to me.

  • Tony Masinelli

    Gregory: Good article. Thanks! Point: I'm not impressed by massive numbers of Twitter followers; anyone can accomplish that by using tweepular or some other method of mass following. In about four days, I collected over a thousand followers, and I'm absolutely nobody. The process was accelerating, and I can't imagine why it would have been difficult at all to hit the stratosphere. After all, there are untold thousands - probably tens of thousands - of marketers out there, spamming away with bots, latching onto any account that won't delete them, at the drop of a hat. Collecting them as followers in order to acquire big numbers is about as difficult as walking out into the Everglades at night and collecting mosquitoes on your body. (And who's going to check to see how many of your 500,000 followers are just marketing bots, anyway?) Quantity isn't at all impressive; but quality is. It's hard to find on Twitter. That's why your article is important. You're promoting quality. I'm much more impressed with users who post well and cull their followers, only keeping the best posters. I've found a handful, and they're like finding buried treasure. Hmmm...finding quality posters...another article idea for you?

  • Aly-Khan Satchu

    I think the secret to the Twitterverse is to be an Trusted Infomediary. The c21st is an Information Century.

    Aly-Khan Satchu
    Twitter alykhansatchu

  • Gregory Ferenstein

    Thanks for the comments. Twitter is a public and social medium. And, the twitter Elite i talked to do some @reply thanking. I'll do it if someone makes an insightful comment -- a comment that my followers benefit from. Do you all agree?

    Digg: Wikiworld

  • Will Weider

    I will unfollow people that waste my time publicly posting a thank you for a re-tweet. I don't feel obligated to thank people for re-tweets. If someone answers a question I am always sure to thank them with a DM (not publicly).