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Twitterers I follow (and you should too) after reading Shel Israel’s “Twitterville”

August 22, 2009

twittervilleThe much anticipated book “Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods” goes on sale Thursday, September 3rd . Recently, I asked Shel Israel, the author of that book, how he made sure “Twitterville” would not get stale the second it hit bookstores. His answer : “I pray a lot.” But in all seriousness after reading the first few chapters I see how Shel ensured the book’s timeless appeal. “Twitterville” is not about tactics or quick ways to earn more followers on Twitter. What Shel discusses are important new media and Marketing 2.0 concepts (including corporate transparency, ambient listening & social marketing) that businesses need to understand to become respected members of the Twitter community. Because of a multitude of interviews that Shel performed with businesses and individuals prior to writing the book, “Twitterville” is full of deep insights that could only come directly from folks intimately involved in creating Twitter strategies for business, government, non-profits and for personal branding.

I am particularly grateful for Shel’s comments about big B2B businesses, such as my employer, Pitney Bowes, whose strides to understand Social Media and learn how to become a valuable member of the Twitter community has earned Shel’s favorable review.

Twitterville Bash

Yes, I am very exciting to join Shel , my fellow Twitter strategists mentioned in a book as well as over 300 guests eager to get their hands on a few early copies of the book. “Twitterville” Book Bash is the place to be on Sunday night (8/23).


I did not anticipate that reading “Twitterville” would take me quite a long time. Why? Because rather than move from page to page I am constantly checking all the Twitter accounts that Shel mentioned in the book. Don’t misunderstand. I think it’s an added bonus since you learn even more by going and examining individual accounts.

I compiled a list of some folks mentioned in the book who I found particularly interesting now that I know the behind the scenes story of Twitterville. I follow them and continue to learn from them. You should too.

  • @biz Stone, @ev Williams, @jack Dorsey – original Twitter founders. I still can’t believe that Twitter was born to address a secondary business need of the Odeo team that could not easily get in touch with their engineering staff.
  • @JamesBuck a University of California student who composed the now famous “Arrested” tweet after photographing Chinese food strikes in the province of Malaha
  • @yiyinglu illustrator and the creator of the “fail whale” artwork (
  • @Scobleizer well known Twitteratti whose excessive tweeting and large number of followers created major strain on early Twitter infrastructure and a major headache for @ev
  • @snackfight (Michael Calore) whose article propelled early adoption of Twitter during 2007 SXSW
  • @gregr (Greg Reinacker) one of first live twitterers during 2007 SXSW. During this time Twitter membership jumped from 5K to 60K in just five days
  • @ggroovin (Ricardo Guerrero) the person behind Twitter’s first retail shop @DellOutlet, a low cost store front for Dell’s refurbished products. This Twitter account  sold over $2 million worth of merchandise in 2 years and paved the way for additional handles @DellHomeOffers and @DellSmBizOffers
  • @LionelatDELL (Lionel Menchaca) and @RichardatDELL (Richard Binhammer)- the first executives to figure out how to practice “ambient listening” and engage in dialog on Twitter
  • @DavidAlston a marketing pro at Radian6 who single-handily ruined U-Haul reputation with just a single tweet.  Read more in this Shel Israel’s blog (added 9/24)
  • @BestBuyCMO, Barry Judge, for his openness and transparency while communicating Best Buys marketing strategies on his blog,
  • @JessicaGottlieb, a mommy blogger who did not appreciate Motrin’s “new mom’s pain” ad campaign. What followed was one of the fastest spreading Motrin PR nightmare ever. Lookup #MotrinMoms for more info.
  • @ChrisAbraham, the first who noticed the unfortunate Pepsi Max lonely calorie suicide attempts ad and pointed them out to Ad Age editor.
  • @boughb, Pepsi’s dir. of global Social Media whose quick action in SM prevented major PR snafu as a result of Pepsi Max suicide ad.

added 8/30/09

  • @LeeAase – the twitter voice behind @MayoClinic and a leading proponent of social media in health care
  • @marlaerwin, the main twitterer for @WholeFoods. Shel reports that she tweets from the logo account at night. Why? Her job as an interactive art director keeps her busy during the day. Seems a bit strange considering that the account has over 1 million followers and a great opportunity for Whole Foods
  • @adamclyde (Adam C. Christensen), a manager of social media communications at IBM’s WHQs. Example of over 1K twitterers who use the medium to communicate with partners, vendors, analysts, customers and each others. There are no explicit rules around the interaction (except IBM’s social computing guidelines), but according to IBM “[they] aren’t interested in creating a few rock stars to be the face of IBM,” but encourage everybody to communicate, be active and transparent.
  • @UnitedLinen (managed by Scott Townsend) uses Twitter and other social media to maintain and build relationships (United Linen is a relationship-based business) and to learn how to market themselves using Social Media. I was fortunate to meet Scott during TBash, the book release party in CA and am very impressed at the passion Scott brings to United Linen Twitter account.
  • @Arie_Ball, VP of Talent Acquisition at Sodexo and a creator of @SodexoCareers. Arie is a rare example of a Twitter champion who successfully implemented a top-down Twitter program in a large B2B company. I had a chance to meet Arie during TBash in California and now know that Twitter for talent acquisition was a great beginning of a Social Media journey for Sodexo. When I spoke with Arie she was looking for a Social Media Evangelist for their External Communications group. Great job Arie!

I am not finished reading the book yet, so come back soon for the completed list or suggest Twitter handles that you think should be part of this post.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2009 6:55 am

    Hey there Aneta,

    Great blog post idea. Thanks for including me on your list. Yeah, I really wish the story had gone down a different path with UHaul. I had some flashes of possible “happy endings” for them during the journey – in fact I did eventually hear from them about 6 months later after they saw Shel posting the story on the Twitterville blog. I certainly never went out to do anything for their reputation good or bad, just vented after a very frustrating personal experience, as most folks would be it in real life or in social media. And the rest, well, Shel does a great job covering it in the book.

    I really do hope UHaul embraces listening and engaging whole heartedly, and I say this not just because that’s what I promote but because it’s just good business to do so.

    I couldn’t make the party yesterday but my colleague, Amber, did. Hopefully it was a great kick off to Shel’s book. I’m sure it was.



  2. Aneta Hall permalink*
    August 24, 2009 6:34 pm

    David, thanks for your comment. I do have a few examples of similar stories of brands totally missing great opportunities. It’s sad that it takes a PR faux pas or worst yet a full blown crisis to get their attention. I also hope that UHaul learns from this. It could be a great case study once they do. BTW, I did connect w/ @ambercadabra. We originally met during PodCamp Boston a few weeks back when she lead a great session on the future of Social Consulting. The room was buzzing long after the session was over. Let’s keep in touch.

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