Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein

When I read, appropriately enough on Twitter, that Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein had written The Twitter Book, I couldn't wait to scoop up a copy. Literally. So I sent a message to the book's Twitter account and asked if I could get an early copy to review. The book is so clear and concise, so necessary to the social media world, that I wondered why on Earth it has taken so long for this kind of book to be written. Tim and Sarah are the perfect people to publish this type of work, both experts in the tool itself and in the art of communication. We're lucky to have them.

The Twitter Book is appropriate for people who've never heard of Twitter, who don't understand it, who like the concept though aren't sure how to use it, and for Twitter addicts like me. Whether you're an individual looking to build your own personal brand on-line, someone who is considering starting a business, or part of a large company, the book is chock full of ideas, resources, and helpful advice.

I recommend getting a copy of this book and using it as a constant reference the same way you'd use any top-rate how-to guide. I also found that it was incredibly helpful to have my computer in front of me so I could actually experiment with the different tips and resources that Tim and Sarah suggest. Within the pages of the book I also found a few other great people to follow on Twitter.

From a personal brand building stand-point, I found dozens of great ideas in The Twitter Book. (For those interested in how The Twitter Book helps business brand building, please see my Business Strategies column on Here are three of my favorite ideas to give you a flavor of what awaits you in this book:

1.) Twitter gives you the opportunity have superhuman powers you've always wanted: you can read people's minds and overhear conversations as if you're a fly on the wall.

2.) The art of brevity and timing is priceless. Highest traffic days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, business hours in EST. That's when the most links, ideas, and thoughts get replies (direct messages - dms - or @ messages) and passed around ("re-tweeted"). People need to see your message ("tweet") within 5 minutes of you posting it or they likely won't see it at all. And make it concise and interesting because you've only got 140 characters to get your point across.

3.) Jargon explained. I hate to be in acronym city. I think a lot of people use acronyms and catch-phrases to make themselves seem better informed than anyone else around. It annoys me. Twitter is no exception. A lot of people scratch their heads when they hear words like "tweet", "tweeple", and "tweetup". I don't blame them. I did the same thing and for a long while the jargon scared me off. I belonged to Twitter for a year and was mostly inactive before I figured out why it mattered and how it could be useful to me. The most valuable reason to pick up The Twitter Book is to have experts Tim and Sarah explain the jargon in very straight-forward terms, and then show you how the tool can be a very powerful part of your overall brand-building toolkit.

Before Tim and Sarah even get the discussion going in the book, they ask for suggestions to improve and enhance the content. The book has given me a lot of great ideas and I want to return the favor to them with a few ideas to consider for the next edition.

1.) For people brand new to Twitter, a glossary of terms would be very helpful.
2.) A set of easy to reference lists in the appendix would be handy. Common mistakes to avoid on Twitter, top companies using Twitter effectively, etc.
3.) An expanded section on how non-profits can use Twitter. It is briefly touched on in the book and I'd love to learn more from Tim and Sarah on new ideas that are particular to nonprofits that would help organizations increase awareness through Twitter.
4.) A resource directory, divided up into sections, in the appendix would be handy. For example, a list of third party programs, resources to help trim messages that are over 140 characters, etc.

An easy and endlessly helpful resource, The Twitter Book will accelerate the growth and power of Twitter. Generous and honest, Tim and Sarah skillfully help their readers take part in the conversation. The Twitter Book will be available in hard copy on May 26, 2009.
It is available in e-book format now at:

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