tao-of-twitter.jpgAs a social media strategist I hear a lot of reasons why people hate social media. And while most people have begun to find familiarity in Facebook, it's always surprising to hear how many people still bemoan Twitter. Of course, the early users of Twitter did the microblogging network no favors by repeatedly tweeting out photos of food or reports about what they were doing “right now” (you know who you are). But even as we’ve been able to move past that and use it for a plethora of more useful things, Twitter is still very much misunderstood.

Zen and the Art of Twitter

When "The Tao of Twitter" arrived at my doorstep, I put off reading it -- probably for a lot of the same reasons so many people put off Twitter. It’s going to be more of the same, it’s nothing I haven’t heard already, and I just don’t have time, I thought. But of course, like many things Mark Schaefer says, he had me at hello.

From the start, the book brings up a lot of good points. There is no instruction manual for Twitter and other social networks, like there is for most everything else. That by itself makes social media scary and overwhelming.

There’s a certain majestic beauty to Twitter. It’s a real-time conversation engine where questions are answered by complete strangers, insights are shared by trusted thought leaders and breaking global news unfolds without prompts. And yet, most people don’t see Twitter for what it is -- only for what they think it is.

Mark’s book is part instruction manual, part testimonial and part zen guide for the universe.

The Twitter Path

The Basics

Like any business relationship, friendships on the social web are built on trust, and that trust must be earned. (p. 63)

The Point

Content is the currency of the social web, and sharing that content is the catalyst to new relationships and business benefits. (p.16)

The Benefits

The social web tends to amplify personal characteristics. If you’re just trying to use people to make a sale or game a Klout score, it’s going to come across and define your reputation and personal brand. If you’re generous and gracious without expecting anything in return, people will go out of their way to look out for you. (p. 121)

In the book, Mark is thorough and yet so easy to follow, that as an experienced Twitter user, I learned new things and began to better understand known concepts. It’s a very quick read (only 156 pages), but you’ll find yourself going back to it time and again. While reading through it, I made a list of all my clients that I was going to send copies to or add it to their recommended reading.

Filled with how-to's, best practices and tips-and-tricks to make Twitter easier to use and incorporate into your daily routine, The Tao of Twitter will not only help convert non-believers -- it will serve as a basic guide for those who are eager to join in the conversation, but need some guidance (which is most of us, if you think about it). Even if the Twitter empire falls to pieces, the book's insights will live on as a guide to approaching the social web with the intent of finding truth and meaning through authenticity.