Twitter is better when smart people follow you

I have soured a bit on Twitter over the last couple of years. I don’t use it as much as I once did and when I do, I don’t really enjoy it, like I used to.

Having said that, I do believe in Twitter (I’m a shareholder). I think it will be critical Internet infrastructure. And I see emerging markets and younger users using it enthusiastically, like I used to.

What makes twitter good or bad?

Why don’t I enjoy it anymore? I think it’s my fault.

I abused Twitter, more accurately my Twitter audience.

I have used my Twitter profile as a test bed for lots of marketing strategies–some good, some bad. I have radically changed my behavior on Twitter from time to time–some good, some bad. I have been erratic in my participation with my Twitter audience–some times attentive, often times neglectful.

As a result, many smart people have followed and then later unfollowed me. I enjoyed Twitter when a Tweet would trigger a great conversation. But, that was when my followers had higher ratio of smart people.

Twitter is better when smart people follow you.

Changing the Filter on Authenticity


Doing my morning read of my favorite sages and I came across this great one by Chris Brogan: I Am Not Authentic.

Here’s a little snippet that got my mind cranks whirring…

Be Helpful

There’s a lot that goes with true authenticity that isn’t helpful. Instead, the people we connect with would be much better served if we chose to be helpful instead. “Helpful” is a far more useful frame of reference than authentic. But there’s more.

This really struck me because, like Chris so often does, he didn’t try to make a tired concept like authenticity understandable–he changed your perspective on the concept.

After many years of “being” online I still struggle with having the “right” filter. Do I put pictures of my kids up? Do I list my cell phone number? Do I accept business and social media “friends” into my personal Facebook account? Do I talk about my vacation? On and on…

This article changes the perspective on that struggle for balance in being authentic. It switches the filter from ME (What’s safe or appropriate to share online?) to YOU (What will be useful, motivational, beneficial to you?).

Sometimes that might be showing our team at work…

Kaledico design team

(Creative meeting at Kaleidico)

Or, how we smashed revenue records for a client with a killer email campaign…

  • Subject Line: We Did Something Radical
    • (Short, intriguing, non-segmenting = Big open rate)
  • Short copy about working hard to create a unique and beneficial thing, without ending the suspense
    • (Keep them intrigued without giving a spoiler to get the click-through)
  • Make every image should count!
    • (Kill the stock photos and switch to infographic style images – everything with a purpose)

Or, just a simple snippet of motivation for where you can go with success…

Bill Rice in Rome

(A recent little jaunt I took to Rome, Italy)

Try switching your authentic filter from ME (you) to YOU (them) and see if it gets you better results. I’m going to.

What do you think? Do you have other thoughts on “being authentic?”

Software Engineers Learning to Listen to Users

Dave Winer
Image via Wikipedia

Another software gem from Dave Winer–be a user and listen to users. Hopefully, he will continue to build out this advice, but I thought it was valuable to pull it out and highlight here:

1. Be a user. Develop apps you yourself have a use for. If you don’t have a feeling for what it’s like to be a user, you’ll never know how to evolve the products, and the stuff you learn in #2 will never make sense.

2. Listen to users. Learning how to code is straightforward, it takes time to perfect your skills, but it’s relatively easy compared to the skill of listening. I recently suggested to a VC friend that we start a company whose sole differentiator is that it strives to perfect the art of listening to users.

I think social media and Web 2.0 are making it easier for us to listen to users–trying to use our software as well as get things done. Unfortunately, we often don’t put the effort into making it easy to hear and listen for our users.

We just added and the Feedback tab (widget) into all of our applications. Hopefully, that will make it easier for them to talk to us. In addition, we are becoming more active in energizing and engaging our user community.

Still, the methodology for listening is not perfected. More thought and innovation is needed…

Ideas? What are you doing to listen better to your users?

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LendingTree and the Tale of Two Crises

Last week LendingTree had two crises.

Crisis 1

The first, was relatively small. A few former employees used their access to customer inquiries (leads), most likely for personal gain, to give unauthorized lenders access to LendingTree’s Lenders Network. Sure, I and a lot of other people can think of the worst possible ramifications of this incident. However, the true facts probably will reveal something far less dramatic–a couple of ex-employees trying to stick it to their old company and make a quick greed inspired buck. And, a few unscrupulous lenders willing to comprise their integrity and their business for free leads.

Crisis 2

The second, is possibly the more unfortunate and potentially damaging. They lacked a community of vocal and fanatical customers. This is certainly not unique to LendingTree, but rather is quite endemic of the lead generation, mortgage, and to a lesser degree real estate industry. Those of us within this business ecosystem should take note and endeavor to fix this before we inevitably encounter our own crisis.

The Solution

This is more a open thought and discussion piece since I won’t be so arrogant as to believe I have the answer, or could have in the heat of the incident performed better. However, I will be critical in the hopes of beginning a useful discussion. A discussion on building a community that will passionately assist a business they believe in, even during bad news.

Here are a few things that LendingTree has done very well, and has differentiated their business, but didn’t help in the current crisis:

  • Been dogmatic about creating the highest quality customer (borrower) experience
  • Building an “elite” cadre of lenders who actively collaborate to improve the lead network, customer experience, and lender experience
  • Creating a top-shelf consumer brand that remains etched in every homeowner in America

Here are a few things that LendingTree did not do well in adjusting to a new social marketplace:

  • Did not build a community of customer evangelist from their loyal customer base
  • Did not build a community of lender evangelist from their loyal lender base
  • Create, develop a community evangelist at LendingTree

Turning Customers into a Community

I think if LendingTree had evolved their “network” into a “social media community” this recent incident would have barely registered. Instead it would have, in a natural way, triggered the vocal opinions of an established loyal customer and lender community. Here are a couple of examples from one of these loyal lenders:

Imagine if LendingTree’s thousands of customers and hundreds of lenders had all been engaged. What would have happened if LendingTree began the communication with the community and the affected customers together. The doom and gloomers would have been a faint whisper and the media would have tracked a very different meme.

Community Building Resources

If you think this is important to your company here are a few of my favorite resources:

Is this important? How would you build and maintain a community?

Contact Management for Twitter

No more excuses for not staying in contact with friends, family, and business contact. Now you can have social contact management that works seamlessly with your existing Twitter.

Here is the idea and what to do:


  1. Get Twitter or have Twitter, who doesn’t have Twitter yet?
  2. Follow salestwit
  3. Sign-up for a “closed” beta invite at
  4. When you get your invite sign-up at using your invite code
  5. Once signed in load your contacts from gmail, yahoo!, outlook, apple mail, or any other address book
  6. Set the interval you want to contact folks in the settings link
  7. Wait for you first twit from your address book, and surprise you first long lost friend or business contact

If you like it share your invite code, talk about it, and give us feedback for the future.