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8 digital pros worth following on Twitter

8 digital pros worth following on Twitter Michael Estrin

Here's a confession about Twitter: I follow, but I do not tweet. That is, I regularly read the bite-sized blurbs that have become so ubiquitous these days, but I rarely contribute anything of my own to the Twitter community.

I do this because Twitter is a fantastic information filter for those looking to stay informed, even if its strength as a marketing tool is still debatable. The 140-character limit may not seem like much, but it's usually enough to deliver a headline and the slant of the tweeter (that is, why it was worth tweeting in the first place). I read my morning Twitter right after I read my morning Facebook, and right before I scan my RSS feeds, emails, and check the homepage of my local newspaper.

Why do I mention this? Well, for every Twitter person I know, there seems to be scores more who insist that the platform is utterly useless. My answer to them is a simple question: Who do you follow?

I usually get a blank stare. I get that look from people who have given up on Twitter because they often fail to appreciate that on Twitter, you are who you follow. In other words, Twitter is only as good as the people you subscribe to. If you subscribe to a bunch of duds, well, you're going to hate Twitter. But if you follow interesting people who tweet good information about the things you care about, you'll probably be a Twitter evangelist in no time.

So who's worth following?

Building your "follow" list is always a work in progress, but the names below are certainly a good starting place for anyone working in digital. Give some of these names a try for a week, refine your results by checking to see who they follow, and see how long it takes you to make Twitter a part of your morning reading.

Oh, and for those who are a little intimidated by all the funny lingo and symbols on Twitter, cruise on over to BusinessWeek to read its humorous, but helpful, glossary of common Twitter terms. 

Fred Wilson
Venture capitalist

Followers: > 28,000

Tweets: > 5,300

Who do you follow on Twitter?

Wilson: "I really enjoy following Dave Winer."

Can you give a specific example of how Twitter has helped you do your job or better understand digital?

Wilson: "I hear about new companies and new ideas all the time on Twitter. I follow up on them, and they lead to new investment opportunities for me."

Gian Fulgoni
Chairman of comScore

Followers: > 900

Tweets: > 800

How has Twitter helped you professionally?

Fulgoni: "I was able to quickly get a perspective of key opinions regarding the merits of the Yahoo/Microsoft deal and better understand how comScore could deliver value to both companies to help make their partnership successful."

Who do you follow on Twitter?

Fulgoni: "Michael Arrington. Love him or hate him, he has a deep insight into the inner workings of the digital ecosystem. [He's a] great source for up-to-the-minute news, rumors, and opinions."

Dave Morgan
Serial entrepreneur

Followers: > 1,100

Tweets: > 300

Who is an industry pro who you follow that ought to be required reading?

Morgan: "Fred Wilson. Fred is one of the most engaged investors, bloggers, and tweeters, and [he] is [an] expert on how web services will impact media and marketing."

Can you give a specific example of how Twitter has helped you do your job or better understand digital?

Morgan: "I'm rarely in a meeting where either someone doesn't mention one of my tweets or I haven't learned something from following them."

Ann Glenn
Senior web producer at Sony Pictures Imageworks

Followers: > 3,400

Tweets: > 6,400

Why do you use Twitter?

Glenn: "It helps me stay connected to key influencers in L.A. and beyond. I look at it as one big cocktail party conversation that you jump in and out of at any time. I follow a lot of different types of people and companies because I like to see how they utilize all social media (not just Twitter)."

Who do you follow on Twitter?

Glenn: "This is hard because there are so many good people out there to follow in the social media space. Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan for his tips on implementing social media into businesses. Brian Solis @briansolis because he's forward thinking in the social media space. Jeremiah Owyang @jowyang works for Forrester Research and has his finger on the social media pulse."

Next page >>

Andy Beal
Founder of Trackur.com, author of "Radically Transparent," editor of MarketingPilgrim.com, and marketing consultant

Followers: > 10,000

Tweets: > 11,000

Can you give a specific example of how Twitter has helped you do your job or better understand digital?

Beal: "It's extremely valuable for market research. I can float an idea at 10 a.m., and by the end of the day have enough feedback to [take] action on. Of course, you have to filter the noise from the signal, but if you can build a following of at least 1,000, you can get enough feedback on your ideas -- good or bad.

Who do you follow on Twitter?

Beal: "I would say that following @MattCutts is extremely valuable. As one of Google's top engineers, you not only get to connect with him, but he's not afraid to share his thoughts and opinions on other companies' initiatives. If you have any interest in the search space, you should be following Matt."

Tamera Kremer
Chief strategist, Wildfire Strategic Marketing

Followers: > 2,200

Tweets: > 9,000

Who do you follow on Twitter?

Kremer: "One of my favorite marketing people to follow on Twitter is Kate Trgovac. I consistently find insight into the latest research and trends in digital communications through her feed."

Why do you use Twitter?

Kremer: "I use Twitter to keep on top of the hot topics of the day and make meaningful personal and professional connections with a diverse group of people. I also find it useful for research on usage statistics and trending topics in social media that my network deems worthwhile to share."

Marshall Sponder
Founder of Webmetricsguru.com

Followers: > 1,700

Tweets: > 3,900

Who do you follow on Twitter?

Sponder: "I follow Seth Godin, David Armano, Michael Arrington, Loic Le Meur."

Can you give a specific example of how Twitter has helped you do your job or better understand digital?

Sponder: "In some cases, Twitter has helped me meet people nearby who are at the same event or location as I am. In other cases, Twitter has helped me know about interesting events or blog posts that others have read that are not in my RSS feed. In yet another way, some people communicate with me via direct messaging on Twitter, and they don't send email, normally."

And lest you think that Twitter is all business, here's just one of the many fun marketing-related distractions that you can use to bring a little humor to a stressful day. Hat tip to Tara Lamberson, VP of marketing and strategy at MindComet, who turned me on to this Twitter account when she posted it in her Facebook feed -- now that's social media.

Things Marketing People Love
Edited by Heron Preston

Followers: > 800

Tweets: < 100

Why do you use Twitter?

Heron: "I use it to make my job easier with TMPL. I think people really get into it because it's funny, and I made it easy for them to be involved. I acknowledge every single person that contributes by giving them credit both on Twitter and on the blog. It's also great because once they tweet, their friends re-tweet, and so on. It's a great marketing tool to get a bunch of people to see something, in just a couple of minutes. The saying used to be "overnight," but now with Twitter, it can happen in a matter of minutes. The idea has 'legs,' it can go forever... Working in the industry, I notice that marketing people love to make fun of marketing. It's a very cutthroat and competitive industry. I knew a blog making fun of it all would be a great outlet for people in the industry, and I made Twitter an integral part of the program, a tool they love to use.

Can you give a specific example of how Twitter has helped TMPL?

Heron: "Well, I noticed that it's a community effort. It's a give-and-take system. People have to be inspired enough to want to share it with their friends, and then their friends have to be inspired as well to want to share it. I felt the single topic was so right on, that all I had to do was simply seed the blog with only two friends! Those two friends tweeted it, and then their followers did it, and it just started to grow. I can remember hitting refresh constantly to watch my followers grow the day I started it. Twitter supports peer-to-peer conversation, and it's that type of conversation I truly care most about, because it spreads like a wild fire! I think working in digital is a great place to experiment with an idea. You can get feedback instantly. That is the only reason I decided to keep up the blog -- because people kept tweeting about it."

Michael Estrin is a freelance writer.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

Michael Estrin is freelance writer. He contributes regularly to iMedia, Bankrate.com, and California Lawyer Magazine. But you can also find his byline across the Web (and sometimes in print) at Digiday, Fast...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Brian Zimmerman

2009, August 12

Check out Cick Costolo http://twitter.com/DickC w/ 600k+ followers. Dick was CEO of Feedburner sold to GOOG & his Second City stand-up comedy shows in his tweets. Dick puts a laugh on any day! :)

Commenter: Guillermo Corea

2009, August 12

Nice list. As a digital media professional and even though it's not a specific person, I also recommend following PBS Media Shift - http://twitter.com/PBSMediaShift.