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The Twitter Book [Paperback]

by Tim O'Reilly, Sarah Milstein
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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Paperback, May 20, 2009 --  
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Book Description

May 20, 2009 0596802811 978-0596802813 1

"Media organizations should take note of Twitter's power to quickly reach their target consumers." --Tim O'Reilly (@timoreilly), in a Los Angeles Times interview, March 2009

This practical guide will teach you everything you need to know to quickly become a Twitter power user. It includes information on the latest third party applications, strategies and tactics for using Twitter's 140-character messages as a serious--and effective--way to boost your business, as well as how to turn Twitter into your personal newspaper, tracking breaking news and learning what matters to you and your friends.

Co-written by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein, widely followed and highly respected twitterers, the practical information in The Twitter Book is presented in an innovative, visually rich format that's packed with clear explanations and examples of best practices that show Twitter in action, as demonstrated by the work of over 60 twitterers.

This book will help you:

  • Use Twitter to connect with colleagues, customers, family, and friends
  • Stand out on Twitter
  • Avoid common Twitter gaffes and pitfalls
  • Build a critical professional communications channel with Twitter--and use the best third-party tools that help you manage it.

If you want to know how to use Twitter like a pro, The Twitter Book will quickly get you up to speed.

About the authors:

Tim O Reilly (@timoreilly), founder and CEO of O Reilly Media, has hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter. Sarah Milstein (@SarahM) frequently writes, speaks and teaches about Twitter; she was the 21st user of Twitter.

Editorial Reviews Review

This practical guide will teach you everything you need to know to quickly become a Twitter power user, including strategies and tactics for using Twitter's 140-character messages as a serious--and effective--way to boost your business. Co-written by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein, widely followed and highly respected Twitterers, the practical information in The Twitter Book is presented in a fun, full-color format that's packed with helpful examples and clear explanations.

Twitter Tips

1. Even if you use Twitter primarily to post information that’s not directly about your company, you can—and should—use it to sometimes link back to your own site or blog. Many companies find that Twitter can become a top referrer to their sites, so avail yourself of that benefit—just do it in a smart way.
The key is to frame the link in a way that’s interesting to your Twitter followers. So instead of saying, “New Blog Post: Mundane Headline,,” try something like the examples here, each of which links back to the Bigelow Tea blog.

2. If you’re looking to get the most out of Twitter, don’t fall into the trap of posting an RSS feed of headlines from your site or blog. Although there are services that will automate such a connection for you, they simply help you create an impersonal account that duplicates the main feature of an RSS reader. Why bother?

Four Important Things to Search For

If you want really useful search results from Twitter, you have to spend some time playing with the advanced search options to figure out the relevant terms and topics people are talking about. Here are four topics to get you started:
1. Your name. It may be known as a “vanity search,” but keeping an eye on what people say about you is a smart idea. (Don’t forget that putting quotes around your name can help refine the results. Search for “Jane Doe” instead of Jane Doe.)
2. Your Twitter account name. Don’t miss messages to or about you.
3. Your company, brand or product. Peek into the minds of customers, competitors, journalists and other key constituents. If you’re a local business, use the advanced search “Location” option to narrow down results. Also, if your company name is common, use the minus sign to weed out inappropriate results. For instance, if you work for Kaiser Permanente, search for Kaiser -Chiefs to make sure messages about the band don’t overwhelm your results. (Here, a targeted search yields some relevant results.)
4. Your competitors. Get market intel and ideas.


"...appropriate for those you're trying to convince that Twitter is all the rage. The book reads like a beginner's how-to guide, which means you could even use it as a subtle way to encourage less than stellar Twitter users to improve their Twittering ways."
-- Jennifer Van Grove,

"As easy to grasp as a tweet, this book cuts through the tiresome twitterhype and delivers a bunch of sensible, down-to-earth material on using and enjoying Twitter."
-- Cory Doctorow, co-editor of Boing Boing and author of Little Brother

"As with anything that gains high profile popularity there are plenty of Twitter haters out there, though the role that Twitter has played in the recent Iranian elections seems to have brought more legitimacy to Twitter in the eyes of many. With popularity come books and quite a few are already out there about and for twitter, but my favorite so far is The Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein."
-- JR Peck,

"Ever been to Nepal? Me neither. However if I ever do go, even though the aborigines who live there are just like us, I will enlist a Sherpa to guide me through the landscape and the nuances of the culture. That's what The Twitter Book is to Twitter. The Twitter community is, at its heart, filled with passionate people engaged in conversations. It's just like Main Street USA. However, culturally, Twitter is its own country with its own language. Its various conventions like DMs and hashtags sound more like retro phrases from the 1960s than the underpinnings of one of the largest social networks on the web today. However, with a quick study, anyone can jump in, engage and accomplish their goals. With The Twitter Book, Sarah Milstein and Tim O'Reilly give you everything you need to get started while leaving just enough for readers to explore on their own. It's an terrific resource I am recommending to all of our clients and anyone else who is curious about Twitter."
-- Steve Rubel, SVP/Director of Insights, Edelman Digital

"Once again, O'Reilly has put together a great, comprehensive primer. If you're ready to dive into the world of Twitter, I highly recommend this book!"
-- Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos

"Movie stars, media figures, captains of industry and book reviewers are doing it, but how can businesses discern the twits from the tweets? O'Reilly and Milstein present as lucid and intelligent an overview as you'd want or need. The format is concise but quite rich, and there's plenty here to convince skeptics that employing Twitter as a marketing tool is a very good way to engage customers."
-- Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald

"The 234-page guide is so helpful that many readers no doubt will tweet its praises and thank '(at)timoreilly' and '(at)sarahm' - the authors' Twitter handles - for helping people understand why Twitter is emerging as the Internet's most powerful communications vehicle since e-mail."
-- Michael Liedtkeap, Associated Press

"Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein are two of my favorite tweeters, and they've just written The Twitter Book, a pleasingly-designed 240-page guide to making the most out of Twitter."
-- Mark Frauenfelder,

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (May 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596802811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596802813
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sarah Milstein, co-host of The Lean Startup Conference, is also co-author, with Tim O'Reilly, of The Twitter Book and a frequent speaker on business and technology. From 2009 through 2011, she ran the Web 2.0 events for UBM TechWeb, in conjunction with O'Reilly Media, and was co-chair of the influential Web 2.0 Expo. Previously, she was on the senior editorial staff at O'Reilly Media, where she founded Tools of Change for Publishing (TOC) and led development of the Missing Manuals. Before joining O'Reilly in 2003, Sarah was a freelance writer and editor, and a regular contributor to The New York Times. She was also the CSA program founder for Just Food, a local-food-and-farms non-profit, and co-founder of Two Tomatoes Records, a label that distributes and promotes the work of children's musician Laurie Berkner. She holds a B.A. from Rutgers University and an M.B.A. from U.C. Berkeley's Haas School of Business. Bonus fact: she was the 21st user of Twitter.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
When I read, appropriately enough on Twitter, that Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein had written The Twitter Book, I couldn't wait to scoop up a copy. Literally. So I sent a message to the book's Twitter account and asked if I could get an early copy to review. The book is so clear and concise, so necessary to the social media world, that I wondered why on Earth it has taken so long for this kind of book to be written. Tim and Sarah are the perfect people to publish this type of work, both experts in the tool itself and in the art of communication. We're lucky to have them.

The Twitter Book is appropriate for people who've never heard of Twitter, who don't understand it, who like the concept though aren't sure how to use it, and for Twitter addicts like me. Whether you're an individual looking to build your own personal brand on-line, someone who is considering starting a business, or part of a large company, the book is chock full of ideas, resources, and helpful advice.

I recommend getting a copy of this book and using it as a constant reference the same way you'd use any top-rate how-to guide. I also found that it was incredibly helpful to have my computer in front of me so I could actually experiment with the different tips and resources that Tim and Sarah suggest. Within the pages of the book I also found a few other great people to follow on Twitter.

From a personal brand building stand-point, I found dozens of great ideas in The Twitter Book. (For those interested in how The Twitter Book helps business brand building, please see my Business Strategies column on Here are three of my favorite ideas to give you a flavor of what awaits you in this book:

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twittter-essential! June 13, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have an O'Reilly Safari account and read this book online.

I had tried Twitter and was frankly disappointed. I just didn't see what all the shouting was about.

Then I read the Twitter Book and my life changed. I know what the shouting is about. Many ways of using Twitter are shown -- indispensable tools!

This book, which is co-written by THE O'Reilly of the famous O'Reilly Books, is not just ABOUT Twitter, it is a revolutionary publication all by itself, because of how it is written.

It is written for people in a Twitter-type hurry and need for quick, simple information. I read it on my Nokia N800 little computer, but am sending off for a hard copy now to show my friends.

This is the no-BS book you are dreaming about. Don't miss it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Painless and Fun Way to Learn Twitter June 3, 2009
The recent Twitter hype has gotten a lot of people interested in the relatively new micro-blogging site, but upon visiting, many just scratch their heads. Some common sentiments are "What value could there be in Twitter?" and "Twitter seems downright silly." In response to this pervasive confusion, Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein have written The Twitter Book, which proclaims one primary message: Twitter is an enormously useful communication tool with potential for both personal and business use.

I liked what I found in the book's 6 succinct (full color!) chapters. The introduction and "Get Started" chapter describe exactly what Twitter is useful for, explain how to get your profile set up, and demystify key Twitter jargon and conventions. The following "Listen In" chapter discusses Twitter trends and how to track them; searching on Twitter; "life-changing" programs for keeping track of your tweets; and finding and following people.

The "Hold Great Conversations" chapter gives some excellent tips on how to effectively and properly communicate with other Twitterers. The "Share Information and Ideas" chapter offers some thoughts on what to tweet and how to be interesting. The "Reveal Yourself" chapter encourages personal tweets and customizing your Twitter account.

One of my favorite chapters is "Twitter for Business," which provides guidance for businesses interested in using Twitter. There are some good examples here of things businesses should and shouldn't do on Twitter.

As a newcomer to Twitter, I found this little book extremely easy to read, understand, and apply. If I'm going to delve into the more advanced uses of Twitter, however, I'm going to need additional resources.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and totaly enjoyable book June 17, 2009
This book literally changed my life, I had been a Twitter user for over 1 month with only 2 meaningless tweets, and I had no idea what the fuss was all about, I felt Twitter was just another "time-consumer" and "privacy-invading" web site, but this book totally changed my mind about Twitter and I became a Twitter-O-Holic in just 2 days.

The book is very easy to read, the 234 pages could be completed in under 1 hour, Tim and Sarah use a very easy and fun language, and it was a very enjoyable experience reading this book as much as it has been fun and very beneficial applying the tips mentioned in the book.

I would recommend this book to any new Twitter user just the same as I would recommend it to veterans, the book is full of cool tips and trick to transform you into a Twitter expert in no time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful
A quick read with helpful information on how to use Twitter; its strengths and its pitfalls. A well written book.
Published 1 month ago by KAREN INGALLS
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful
I consider myself fairly computer literate but twitter had me baffled. This simple book was very helpful and I would recommend it to others who find twitter something new
Published 6 months ago by L. Taber
2.0 out of 5 stars The twitter book
Was not what I expected. Very disappointed. I needed info on how to get around in tweeting, finding people, etc. I did not get this info from this book.
Published 11 months ago by PJones
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
It was written exclusively for newbies to Twitter. The information is straight to the point. The images used helped to comprehend the steps faster. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Kasali Ajadi
1.0 out of 5 stars Great If You're a Full-Fledged Nerd
I expect that you could learn how to use Twitter from this book, but it is so busy giving you all sorts of nerdy ways of approaching Twitter that I threw it out halfway through. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Patricia Fulda
4.0 out of 5 stars Got me into Twitter and sold me on its usefulness
The explanations of concepts were straightforward. The progression of topics is intuitive and user-friendly. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ravelwriter
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very helpful.
I did not find this book very helpful. They don't show any 'screen type shots' and it is not explained step by step. The whole book is just statements about what you can do. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ron
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful tips
This is a great resource for people new to twitter. It is easy to understand and provides quick glance explanations.
Published 14 months ago by Marie
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for Twitter beginner
I finally took the Twitter plunge because I have a new book coming out March 2013, ZIG ZAG. It was recommended by Andy Smith (author of THE DRAGONFLY EFFECT) and it is the perfect... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Keith Sawyer
2.0 out of 5 stars OK but Nothing Special
I got rid of this book soon after I got it. There was some good information but overall not a very ppracticle guide to Twitter.
Published 15 months ago by Mary Jane Humes
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