kawasakiThe Tweet was on at the Search Engine Strategies conference today as author and internet entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki unpacked a box of tricks, optimization sites, and a few controversial concepts to increase the business effectiveness of using Twitter. His most surprising advice: don’t be too impressed with your amount of followers.

“I think the most important measure of success on Twitter is “retweets,'” he said in his conference keynote. “The number of people following you means less and less.”

That comment contradicts some of Kawasaki’s own recent writing, but a 1,000 percent growth rate will cause an expert to reconsider his thinking. Kawasaki listed some of the people and organizations that top the amount of followers to show that the average business person can’t compete, and can’t be relevant when Twitter followers are stacked up against CNN and Barack Obama. Kawasaki said he is able to attract followers because of the quality  of the links he includes in Tweets. The quality then leads to retweets, which can be measured at ReTweet, and can mark a trail for interested customers.

Some of Kawasaki’s Twitter tips:

  • Link Sources: Kawasaki finds useful links to Tweet about at sites such as StumbleUpon and Alltop. He is the co-founder of Alltop, and uses categories such as science news and oddities. A link to a site such as “peanut butter cheesecake” was retweeted by more than 100 people as Kawasaki was making his presentation.
  • Search tips: Using advanced search on Twitter can be an effective business development tool. Example:If a mechanic specializing in brakes searches Twitter for handles that need new brakes within a 100 mile area, Twitter just produced a lead.
  • Tools: TweetDeck works well, Kawasaki says, for tracking one account. However, for multiple accounts he uses Twhirl and challenged the management of Twitter to produce an effective dashboard to manage the activity on several Tweeter accounts.
  • Company Tweet Tools: CoTweet allows companies to track and respond to all the activity on Tweeter by using search terms.
  • TwitterHawk: Here Kawasaki’s tips ranged into the controversial. TwitterHawk allows companies to set up search terms that will automatically generate tweets. It costs five cents a tweet to use. Companies can cultivate tweets and respond to them manually, but with the size of the followers some companies have attracted, automation is a logical step. Question: Have Twiiter users opted in for automated messages?
  • TwitterFeed: This tool puts sends a companies RSS feed directly to its followers, and other blog networks, when published.