The secret to Twitter

I’ve been talking to lots of people about Twitter. Why is it so addictive? Why do new tools, shipped for it, like Quotably was tonight, get passed around so fast and talked about so much?

I’ve gone through stages with Twitter. At some point I thought it was important to get lots of followers. But lately I’ve been telling people that the secret to Twitter isn’t how many followers you have, but how many people you are following. Tonight Sheryl asked me to explain more: “why is the secret how many people you follow? Why is it important to follow so many people?”

Here’s why:

1. Getting followed just means you’re popular. Yes, that’s cool, but it hardly will make you interesting. Paris Hilton will have more Twitter members than I will, when she joins.
2. Getting followed a lot might mean you’re using it for a publishing system. If all you have is followers what makes that different from owning a newspaper, a radio station, a TV station, or, even, a Web site? Hint: nothing.
3. If you’re just trying to get followed you’re probably just needing attention or you might be Jason Calacanis.

But what does following a lot of people say?

1. You’re trying to learn more.
2. You’re trying to meet more people.
3. You’re trying to be a better listener.
4. You’re communicating to the world that you’d like to be listened to (golden rule: treat people how you’d like to be treated).
5. You’re trying to find out about more stuff. More events. More stories.

Now, who would you rather hang out with? A person who only talks and doesn’t listen? Or a person who listens to as many people as he can?

I know I’d rather hang out with someone who listens to more people.

Oh, yeah, and many of us on Twitter have been getting messages like what Mike Arrington got tonight. Now, I really don’t care about people who unfollow me anymore. Go ahead. Doesn’t make me feel bad. But the more people I follow, the smarter I get, the more connected I get, the better the experiences I have in life (see previous post).

So, that’s my new story. The secret to Twitter is how many people are you listening to, not how many people are listening to you.

Agree or disagree?


Wine and Web Party, thanks to Twitter and DeLoach winery

Twitter is changing our community interactions in ways that we are just starting to realize. At SXSW parties were formed within an hour, simply because Scott Beale or other people Twittered about them.

We’ve seen a marriage proposal in the last week. Earthquakes reported before CNN does (just tonight there was an earthquake in Tokyo that was being discussed on Twitter). A camera guy in the White House press pool talking with us about what’s going on around the world. And much more.

Last night it came together when a bunch of people who are loosely connected planned, and implemented a wine party in less than 30 hours.

It all started on Friday afternoon. I joined a few guys in Santa Rosa for a wine-tasting weekend: Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, Tim Ferriss, author of “The Four Hour Workweek,” which is near the top of the New York Times best-seller list right now, and Gary Vaynerchuk, owner of a wine store in New Jersey (does $50 million a year in sales) and famous wine videoblogger. Twitter addresses: @kevinrose. @timferriss. @scobleizer. @garyvee.

Anyway, the weekend started out at DeLoach Winery in Santa Rosa, but we had no idea what was waiting for us. DeLoach President and owner, Jean Charles Boisset, served us lunch, launched a new wine, and was showing us around their newly-renovated wine house where they were planning to host events. Here’s part I of the tour that we got. Here’s part II of the tour we got. In part III, Jean shows us some new bottles he’s testing, talks about his marketing philosophy (you might be shocked to learn what “OFS”, which is one of his wine’s names, stands for).

At the time we got these tours this party did not exist. That was Friday afternoon at about 4 p.m. After we filmed those videos, Jean handed the keys to Gary and said “I left 24 cases of wine for you to share with your friends.”

Now, what’s your impulse? I looked at Kevin and Gary and we all three knew we were thinking the same thing: Twitter it! So, we asked Jean “are you sure you want us to invite a few hundred people over here?” He said yes. We asked again, and once more just to be sure. He even said he’d like to host future events for the tech industry. I remember thinking to myself that either Jean was incredibly brave, or maybe he was just not aware of what could happen in today’s Twitter world.

Anyway, Gary had originally planned to have a quiet dinner on Saturday night but now those plans were turned upside down. We thought about just inviting our favorite friends. Nah, that wouldn’t be cool. Too exclusive. So, we just Twittered it and invited everyone to come.

It turned out to be a great party. TeelaJBrown even drove from Los Angeles. Scott Beale got some great photos with his new Ricoh digital camera. I shot two videos of the party itself. BusinessWeek’s Sarah Lacy was there with her husband. So was Dave Morin, head of Facebook’s application platform. Oh, and a whole contingent of French Entrepreneurs who’ll be touring companies in SF and Silicon Valley. They LOVED Gary’s show.

Anyway, if you only watch one video from the party, catch this one of a filming of Gary’s show. Keep in mind this is at about midnight after Gary’s been tasting wine and hanging out with people all day long. The guy is just incredible.

Before I go on more about the party, wanted to thank the other wineries we visited, in addition to DeLoach, which is known for its Pinots.

Shane Winery
. Video. A small microbrewery. I found this one interesting because of the wine maker’s innovative approach. And I love small things. He only makes a couple hundred cases a year.
Forth Winery. You’d never find this on your own. But what a beautiful setting, and even nicer people who made us one of the best meals I’ve ever had. That’s why I shot a ton of video here. Part I. Part II. Part III. Part IV.
St. Francis. Video. Known for having some of the oldest vines in Sonoma and is famous for its Merlots. Meet the CEO and the winemaker.
Great business discussion between Gary and Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, with Jean of DeLoach.

Anyway, hope to do more of these kinds of events. What was great about this one is that it quickly became an experience, rather than just another boring conference. The real trick is: how do you limit them to about 200 people? That seems to be the perfect size. Bigger than that and they become impersonal affairs. Smaller and they are just dinner parties. I have a feeling that if Gary starts doing events he’ll have thousands of people at them pretty quickly.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came on such short notice. Thanks again to the DeLoach winery.