O'Reilly Media on Twitter

Laurel Ruma (@laurelatoreilly) just did a quick census of the number of O’Reilly employees on twitter. She came up with 74 twitter accounts out of about 300 employees worldwide, plus five people who were controlling departmental or project-based O’Reilly twitter accounts like the following:

Official O’Reilly account:
@oreillymedia: The top level O’Reilly Media site.

@oreilly_verlag: O’Reilly Germany

Number of O’Reilly products or divisions on Twitter: 8

@make: Make: Magazine and makezine blog
@craft: Craft: Magazine and craftzine blog
<a href=@hacks: Hacks book series and hackszine blog
@insideria: Our Inside RIA microsite sponsored by Adobe.
@missingmanuals: The Missing Manuals
@headfirstlabs: Head First book series
@tocTools of Change for Publishing conference and blog
@radar: The O’Reilly Radar blog

Number of O’Reilly conferences on Twitter: 12
@oscon: The O’Reilly Open Source Convention
@etech: The O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference
@moneytech: Money:Tech
@foundconf: Found: The Search Acquisition and Architecture Conference
@where20: Where 2.0
@railsconf: RailsConf
@MySQLconf: The MySQL User Conference
@web2summit: The Web 2.0 Summit
@RailsConfEU: RailsConf EU
@w2esf09: Web 2.0 Expo SF
@w2e09: Web 2.0 Expo NY
@velocityconf: Velocity

Many of you have probably seen some or all of these accounts in my retweet stream. For better or worse, my personal account (@timoreilly) has garnered the most followers, and so I’ve become a switchboard for passing on the best of the news from others in the company.

I do find this to be an interesting exercise in managing corporate social media. I don’t follow every O’Reilly employee, as we have no formal method for tracking them, but often, people who have posted something they want to bring to my attention send me an email requesting a retweet. (So do lots of outsiders. My habit of retweeting has ended up building a great extended information network!)

The fact that I don’t automatically pass on company propaganda, but require it to be interesting, makes for a great teaching opportunity with employees. As I explain to them what I consider retweetable and why, and how to write tweets that make me want to share them, we improve the overall social media marketing IQ of the company.

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  • vanderleun

    Ah yes, “@Scobleizer: it isn’t *just* who you’re following that matters, it’s who @s you, and who you”

    High school cliquedom as cutting edge social media.

    Because you can never have enough trivial info driving you into interrupt mode.

    This is a “tool” that will certainly help everyone to “focus on what really matters.”

  • Tim

    You highlight couple of interesting points.

    – The fact that you participate means that there is implicit approval on using these social apps.

    – And the idea of you taking the lead and mentoring teams around what is acceptable content or not.

    Both of these are important lessons on how established organizations can approach social media.

    One question – was this a grassroots initiative that got herded together, or a top down structured strategy to engage this social media space?


  • vanderleun is correct. You may use it productively, but your employees are guaranteed not to. To wit:

  • vanderleun –

    You’ve obviously never used twitter much, or you wouldn’t repeat the usual canard, that it’s all about trivial information. I now get (and redistribute) much of my tech news via twitter. I’ve been researching program committee members for a new conference in an area where I don’t have much native expertise. I’ve been able to help at least one entrepreneur secure funding by connecting him with someone who I spotted traveling to his home town. I’ve been able to spotlight interesting people and topics.

    If you think that media is general (this blog for instance) is trivial, then twitter is trivial. But if you believe in the power of media to spread ideas and information, then twitter matters.

    Interrupt-driven I’ll give you. But so is email. Both require some discipline. Personally, I do each in large blocks of time, and don’t let myself get interrupted constantly.

  • Mahesh CR –

    This was a bottom up effort. Even the twitter census was done by someone self-motivated, who then brought it to my attention.

  • Agitationist –

    The exact same things were said about blogging. And for that matter, about science fiction, which led to the formulation of Sturgeon’s Law (a variation of the Pareto Principle.)

    In case you haven’t noticed, twitter is evolving.

    But even to the trivial, life is made up of trivialities. Just because they are public doesn’t mean that you have to read them, any more than you are obliged to stare at people as you walk down the street.

    There are a small number of people in my life whom I love deeply, and from whom shared trivialities are the daily meat and drink of that love.

    Most of these people do have the common sense to keep their twitter stream private and by invitation, but there are some for whom public and private are difficult to separate. I would bet that people who follow me like it when I occasionally throw in bits of my personal life along with my work-related twitter stream.

  • As companies explore the social media space and experiment with technologies such as Twitter they will develop a list of dos and don’ts, and eventually establish best practices. These might include, for example, (1) create one Twitter account and stick with it, (2) educate employees (and customers!) about how they can engage with social media to promote a message or mission. Of course, there are many more possibilities. However, a crucial point is that the technology is changing so fast that we have to experiment and take a chance on what works and what doesn’t, albeit a carefully calculated chance if at all possible.

  • vanderleun

    Well Tim I certainly won’t gainsay you since you have certainly had, and continue to have, a very productive life experience. That and the fact that you are one of the gods of the Web 2,0 pantheon and have been, are, and will be relentlessly cutting edge.

    All I can say is that, yes, I have used Twitter and have observed it in action as it leapt up into its own apotheosis during the Mumbai massacres.

    Overall, from my admittedly limited point of view, Twitter strikes me as yet another heavy-breathing cloud of chaff blasted out behind the ever augering downward deluge of net apps. It reminds me, speaking only for myself, of the ever proliferating feuilletons Hesse cites as leading to global intellectual implosion in The Glass Bead Game. That said I can see how this updated version of “The Language of Birds” would have, in its emulation of the packet, a mystic allure for programmers of all sorts.

    I can see that twitter has its uses but they just seem to me to be transient, trivial, and not exactly conducive to literacy.

    I recall Mike Godwin once writing that in posting we are “mainlining each other’s thoughts.” I simply don’t see twitter as being particularly suited to long thoughts. More like a billboard for the overheated brain. (“Say it in seven, go to heaven. Say it in eight, it won’t be great” goes the copywriter’s slogan.)

    Still, if this sort of steno-app seems to work for you, text on MacDuff!

    As for me, to paraphrase George Harrison, “I got blisters on my thumbs!”

  • You may also want to check out yonkly. It’s the first “create your own” microblog to integrate with Twitter: http://yonkly.com

  • vanderleun –

    Most of what I twitter is links. A tweet is not the complete thought. Whether a link or a passing mention of a mood, it is a pointer.

    A few words to a friend may be as powerful a link as an href to a stranger.

    And the accumulated stream of pointers is, in the end, a reflection of a life.

  • Thank you for this list – I’ll check (and probably follow) some of this tweets. Twitter is a nice tool to stay up-to-date avoiding a feed-reader-overflow ;)