The Tao of Twitter – Book Interview

Heidi Cohen Interviews Mark Schaefer

The Tao of Twitter – Revised and expanded for 2018 

The Tao of Twitter

Q: What has changed in the social media/digital landscape to make an update to The Tao of Twitter necessary and relevant now?

A: Since 2010, The Tao of Twitter has been the best-selling book on the subject. It is a beloved book but much has changed since the last edition in 2014. I didn’t want to see the book waste away and become outdated so I committed to diving back into Twitter again.

My first job was to determine — What exactly IS Twitter today? Is it still the human-powered platform I fell in love with in 2008? Answering that big question led to the overall change in perspective for the book.

I think there are really three Twitter worlds that define the platform: Wall Street, which wants it to be Facebook; Corporate marketers, who want it to be TV advertising; and 330 active users, who have made it part of the fabric of their lives. I think that last group provides the fresh opportunity for businesses.


Q: What does a digital marketer gain from adding Twitter to their social media mix and digital media more broadly that they can’t get from other platforms? In other words how do I make the case to my boss for using Twitter in today’s social media environment?

A: Twitter is quirky and conversational, which is what confounds most companies. The best organizations on Twitter are human and playful. I don’t know many company cultures that can pull that off!

Still, when you see the rising costs and visibility challenges at Facebook, the general lack of marketing opportunities at LinkedIn, the weird rules and controversies at YouTube … I think at some point companies need to take a fresh look at what’s going on at Twitter.

Fringe brands like Steak-Ums and Moon Pies and even larger brands like Denny’s are having a field day on Twitter, and at very low cost. It takes a new, more human mindset to succeed on Twitter. It’s not throwing an ad out there and waiting for something to happen.


Q: What are your favorite Twitter tools and functionality and why do you like them?

A: I don’t spend a lot of time evaluating Twitter tools. I normally spend my time “creating” instead of “evaluating” so I pretty much stick to the basics like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.


Q: What’s in your book for the experienced Twitter marketer?

A: Well … I don’t know of too many Twitter marketers, which is kind of the problem, I think! Twitter is just not on the radar screen for many businesses and yet there is undeniable power and opportunity there.

I am finding that even many experienced marketing leaders read the first two chapters of the book and tell me “wow, I never thought about it like that.” I introduce a human view of Twitter that challenges preconceptions.

So this is more than a book of tips (although there are hundreds of them!). This book is also a call to action. Look at your marketing options. Is it time to take a fresh look at Twitter?


Q: As the author of a number of top selling books, what’s the difference between writing a book from scratch and updating an existing book in terms of the process as well as in terms of the writing satisfaction?

A: Writing a book from scratch is the hardest thing I have ever done. It requires intense focus, commitment, and vision. It is the riskiest thing a person can do — you’re putting your words and views on public display forever. No take-backs!

I’ve been fortunate in that this ultimate bet has paid off. People seem to love my books and that has been incredibly rewarding.

Doing a revision is less risky I suppose because you already have a track record there. Doing a revision takes a different kind of courage. You have to take a clear-eyed view of what you have done and be willing to abandon even your best work if it is no longer relevant.


Contact information

Thanks, Mark.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.