The Tao of Twitter: Changing your life and business 140 characters at a time

A Very Rough Draft

Summary: The Tao of Twitter is essentially a “how-to” manual on the social media site popularly known as Twitter. Throughout the book, Mark Schaefer explains the uses of Twitter, defines Twitter-lingo and teaches readers how to tweet.

Social Discourse:

  • Takes a technological deterministic approach
    • Technological determinism: the idea that technology is a external agent. The assumption that we will see effects and we won’t see them if we don’t use them
    • Through his personal experiences, Schaefer talks about how Twitter is what you make of it
      • He talks about how Twitter provides a plethora of networking opportunities, however in other to reap the benefits of twitter one must find the “Tao of Twitter”
      • How he made beneficial connections, which started because of a simple “Go Steelers” tweet and how he wouldn’t have made those connections without Twitter

Course concepts the book addresses:

  • Forming relationships and community through social media
    • Explains how to make a latent tie into a weak/strong tie
      • How to break the ice with a follower or a person you are following
  • How to target connections
  • Forming identity through social media
    • Incorporates taste preferences
      • He advises people to follow those who are similar to them instead of people who are different (which is something we discussed in class)
      • Echo tunnel
  • Advises people to be authentic
    • Having meaningful content
    • Learning about and reaching consumers
      • Ways to leverage platform for new business benefits


  • People who have never used twitter before
    • Provides general guidelines
    • Essentially a “Twitter for Dummies” book
  • People who want to network using twitter
    • How to even the most mundane tweets can result in a beneficial connection
      • How it can make a latent tie into a strong or weak tie

Ethical implications of social media and marketing

  • While Schaefer constantly emphasizes the importance of being authentic on twitter, he doesn’t really critique twitter and it’s ethical implications in terms of the power relationship between the people who use social media and the people who own it

Personal Critiques

  • Focuses only on the advantages that Twitter can give you
    • Briefly talks about spamming
    • Doesn’t mention the fact that while people have control over their tweets, there is no control over how people interpret tweets
      • Context collapse
      • Reputability
      • Nightmare audience
    • Puts all the responsibilities on the user
      • Doesn’t blame the platform
        • Doesn’t take into account that while a user may tweet something, the audience interprets it in their own way
        • Doesn’t take into account the nightmare audience
        • Talks about the benefits of increased publicity, but doesn’t mention the possibility of bad publicity
  • Assumes that if the user does get bad publicity, it’s because the user is using the social media wrong
  • Twitter is not for everyone
    • While he acknowledges that some people don’t use twitter, he doesn’t discourage it
    • Really pushes the advantages and the benefits of twitter
    • Seemingly biased