Startup Blog

What Happens if You Unfollow 16,000 People on Twitter?

Posted Mike Volpe on 9/11/12 10:14 AM

I hit the point where I was really sick of Twitter.  I got hundreds of spammy direct messages.  My feed was useless.  I was spending tons of time managing lists to filter out crap I did not want.  Twitter was no longer enjoyable to me, and it meant a lot of my posting was becoming automated and my personal engagement was getting lower and lower.

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Twitter at Events: 60% of Tweets are During the Event

Posted Mike Volpe on 11/12/10 1:08 PM

The folks at Amiando did a cool study looking at the Twitter usage associated with event hashtags.  There are a number of cool findings in the report, but the one that stood out to me was that the vast majority of the tweets took place during the event, with a long tail before and after the event.

twitter event usage resized 600

How Fast Should My Twitter Followers Grow?

Posted Mike Volpe on 10/26/10 12:34 PM

follow me on twitterI am starting to take more of the questions I get by email, twitter and other means and post the responses here, exposing it to more than one person.  

Using Twitter to Get Your Next Job

Posted Mike Volpe on 5/3/10 12:14 PM

I have hired 2 people that I first communicated with on Twitter so far.  Here is a video from local Fox News with some tips on using Twitter to find your next job - featuring David Gallant (HubSpot employee) and other local Boston marketing celebrities including Dan Schawbel who has been interviewed on the HubSpot blo.


New Data: Twitter As Popular as Facebook, But Lags in Usage

Posted Mike Volpe on 4/29/10 2:01 PM

If you read this blog at all you know that I love marketing data.  There is a new study by Edison Research with data on Twitter out that I was fortunate enough to get a a preview of.  The most interesting stats to me were theones about awareness and usage for Twitter and Facebook (I really wish they had included LinkedIn...).

twitter facebook awareness marketing data

Why You Should Forget About Twitter

Posted Mike Volpe on 4/21/10 10:00 AM

This is a guest post by Nick Gundry, who is a co-founder of, co-founder of Social Media Club Fresno, web strategist and social media enthusiast. He has been working professionally in the web industry for over 12 years in various positions round the world and is currently residing in Fresno, CA.

forgetting about twitter

New Data Shows Twitter Becoming More International

Posted Mike Volpe on 3/9/10 9:03 AM

New data from the HubSpot State of the Twittersphere report shows that Twitter is growing in use outside of North America.

twitter growing internationally

What is the value of a sponsored Tweet?

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/8/10 11:00 AM

This is a guest post by Chris Englund who writes "Chris is an MBA navigating Social-Mediaville. Follow him on Twitter: @cgenglund".

Mariani Wine Pope

Why Your Company Should Consider Multiple Twitter Feeds

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/1/10 11:30 AM

This is a guest post by Marijo Tinlin, who is the principal at Sunrise Business Consulting (@SunriseBusiness) which helps small and emerging businesses and entrepreneurs get traction in business, sales and marketing. Her specialities include all facets of marketing including inbound marketing, content marketing, database marketing and search engine optimization.

It's Twitter Day! - Funny Spoof Office Video

Posted Mike Volpe on 9/4/09 10:52 AM

We tried to have a little bit of fun at HubSpot mocking Twitter in an office environment and how some companies are obsessed with it.  How did we do?  is it funny? (I actually can't tell if I laugh because I know all the people, or it is actually funny.)  Do you have ideas for another funny office video?

What ClickableNow Should Do for Twitter Background Success

Posted Mike Volpe on 7/29/09 11:38 AM

My friend Todd Defren from Shift Communications is part of a project to help make links in a Twitter background clickable as announced on Mashable.  A worthy goal! 

[Correction: When first published this post said the pricing was $20/month.  I was wrong.  The cost is $20 for a "lifetime" at the time ClickableNow launched.  I still don't think this changes their business problem.]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Clickable now has made some changes and is now FREE!

clickablenow logo

I have not talked to Todd about this project.  But from my current understanding I think the business model is flawed.  If you pay $20 you can make the links clickable on your profile for anyone who has installed the Firefox addon from ClickableNow.  Here is the big problem.  The business model relies on a large number of users installing an add-on, and there is no incentive to install the add on.

Why would I pay $20 to reach a tiny number of people that have installed the add-on?  I won't.  I also won't install the add on to be able to click on the tiny number of users that have added the clickable links.  Chicken and the egg.

Here are some suggestions for ClickableNow to drive more adoption:

  1. Partner with an existing Firefox add-on with a big user base and add the ClickableNow functionality to it to get an instant large base of users who can click on the links.
  2. Price the monthly fee for adding the clickable links to your Twitter page based on the number of people that have installed the add on.  Today it would be $0.10 a month or something.  As more people install it, the price goes up for everyone to a max of $20.
  3. Same as above, except let the early users lock in the low price.  The first 10,000 installers pay $1 a month.  Then $2 for the next 10,000, up to a max price of $20.
  4. Price the links on a CPC (cost per click) basis, so as a marketer I only pay for the clicks I get, and this will scale with the number of users.
  5. Give away a simple version of the clickable links for free (maybe one link with no tracking stats) and then charge for more advanced version (multiple links and/or tracking stats).

What other ideas do you have to make the ClickableNow business model work?

Twitter Etiquette

Posted Mike Volpe on 7/28/09 10:13 AM

I've gotten a bunch of questions recently about etiquette on Twitter.  There really are no formal rules, because lots of people use Twitter differently.  I know lots of people who have rules that are different from me, and that is fine.  Their personal style may be different or maybe they use Twitter "better".  You can use twitter however you want (and don't let one of those "social media experts" tell you differently).

While I do not think there are any formally established etiquette for Twittter, I thought I would share how I use it.  Let everyone know in the comments if you agree, disagree or have other ideas for what twitter etiquette should be.

My etiquette for reading tweets - You cannot and should not read all tweets.  There is just too much volume on Twitter.  Twitter is not your email.  I snack on Twitter a couple times a day for 10-15 minutes at a time.  I read all of the @mvolpe messages and I try to read all my direct messages (DMs).  I do not have any messages or DMs sent as text messages because I don't like to let Twitter interrupt my day.

My etiquette for following other people - I follow people that say something interesting to me, seem to have a high value to tweet volume ratio, talk about me or my content or retweet me, or people I have met in person.  None of these rules are set in stone, but the more of these things that apply to you, the more likely it is that I will follow you.  If you feel like you are left out, just ask me by sending a message like "hey @mvolpe - I love your tweets!  Would you mind following me back?"

My etiquette for following people back - I do not automatically follow people back because the follow me.  I used to, and I found that I got even more DM spam than I do now, and a lot of the following was coming from robots, so I stopped.  I figure that if you followed me and I should follow you back, one of the conditions above will eventually apply to you and you'll get followed that way.

My etiquette for direct messages (DMs) - People who have a lot of followers and follow a lot of people (more than 2,000 of each) get a lot of direct message spam - do not assume they receive or read all of your DMs.  I can't and don't.  I do my best to read them all, but honestly many good messages get buried in there.  Sorry.

My etiquette for retweeting - If I know you well (in person or virtually) and you ask me to retweet something, if it is good I probably will do it.  If you say something remarkable, I might retweet it without you asking.

Download video for iPod and iPhone.

O'Reilly Twitter for Marketing Webinar

Posted Mike Volpe on 7/22/09 10:16 AM

Here is a presentation about using Twitter for marketing and PR I did a while back.  You might also enjoy a whole collection of resources on Twitter for Marketing and PR we put together at HubSpot.

Why Free Services Sometimes Totally Suck

Posted Mike Volpe on 6/25/09 10:20 AM

When a free service stops working, what do you do?  What if you rely on it for personal or business purposes?  Who do you turn to for support on a free service?

Yesterday I have had real problems with a couple free services.  First, something is messed up between and Feedburner and iTunes for the podcast.  Somewhere along the way, the feed is broken, so iTunes does not have the most recent episodes.  Second, my Twitter account got "suspended" for some reason.  No more Twitter.  Goodbye 9,000+ friends and lots of conversations...  boo.  Lucky for me, it got mysteriously reinstated about an hour later.

The problem is not that things break.  That happens.  The problem is what do you do to fix it.  With all of them, you can submit a request and wait (Twitter can take up to 30 days!) or search for answers other people have posted in forums or on blogs.  but there is no way to solve your problem now with a back and forth with a live human.  You need to use email (slow) or find your own answer (hard).

All I want is an 800# where I can call and someone will fix my problem, live with me on the line.  I would even pay for it.  Maybe $25 or $50... just for this one problem.

What do you think?  Have you had challenges with free services?

Should you start using a Blog or Twitter first for marketing?

Posted Mike Volpe on 6/23/09 11:31 AM

Often people ask me which is more effective, Twitter or a blog.  As you can see in the video, a blog is much more effective because it has a lot of benefits over Twitter.

  • Blog articles help you be more interesting on Twitter - it is hard to be interesting in 140 characters, it is much easier with a link to a blog article
  • Blog articles perform well in SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Everyone can read blogs, not many people use Twitter

Download video for iPod or iPhone

#NYTFail #IranElection - Why Twitter Users Need to Think Before Tweeting

Posted Mike Volpe on 6/17/09 1:44 PM

sheep herd twitter

A big topic on Twitter today related to the Iran Elections was the #NYTfail topic accusing the New York Times of subjecting Iranian demonstrators to potential danger by "exposing" the usernames of people on Twitter and tweeting from Iran.

For example, this tweet was really popular: "Please RT! NYT publishing sensitive names of Iranians on Twitter. Get them to stop! #NYTfail #iranelection"

Really?  Someone's Twitter username is a secure piece of data?  Isn't Twitter totally public and open? (Yes, it is!)  Your Twitter username is no less public than your website URL or LinkedIn profile.  Your tweets are broadcast around the world, indexed by Google, stored in lots of databases.  Your followers names are public and easily accessible, as are all of your tweets and the people you follow.  If you want to remain anonymous, you need to use an anonymous name and be careful not to mention anything personally identifiable.

So, as far as the #NYTfail #iranelection thing... get over it!  The New York Times did nothing wrong, and probably did a lot right by publishing the story and spreading more light on what is happening in Iran.

Twitter users need to use their brain.  Twitter is a fast moving and quite viral medium, which is good and bad.  News travels fast.  I have seen Amber Alerts spread fast on Twitter - a good thing.  But today the #NYTfail "news" that was completely false and misleading became a hot topic because of hysteria and a herd mentality.  Please... if you are on Twitter, use your brain before just blindly retweeting other messages.

Photo credit: michaelbrittain

Driving ROI on Twitter Presentation

Posted Mike Volpe on 6/15/09 10:30 AM

I am speaking today at the O'Reilly Twitter Bootcamp in New York City.  Here are my slides that talk about the ROI of Twitter.

Download in PowerPoint (PPT) format or click through the slides below.

And of course... follow me on Twitter.

Warning: Twitter and Facebook Can Lead to Robbery

Posted Mike Volpe on 6/15/09 9:31 AM

An article on AZ Central (sent to me by Dan Tyre) talks about a man who sent status updates to Twitter and Facebook and believes those led to his home being robbed - because it was clear he was going to be away for some time.  Read the full article.

How to protect yourself from social media robbery:

  1. Get a monitored alarm system so the police will get called if you have a break in.
  2. Keep your home address as private as possible - don't publish it on any of your profiles.
  3. Try to keep your travel plans mysterious so it is unclear when you will come home.  Maybe just post your photos after you have come home, not during the trip.

Other ideas?  What do you think?

New Twitter Data - Tweet Length

Posted Mike Volpe on 6/10/09 9:00 AM

HubSpot just released another "State of the Twittersphere" report with lots of new data about Twitter.

This graph shows the length of tweets - you can see a lot of people cram as much as possible into the 140 characters.

By the way, the optimal Tweet length is probably about 110 characters - that allows for better reteeeting of your tweets since you can add 1-2 usernames to that tweet and it will still be under 140 characters.

tweet length

Update - the report has made the front page of TechMeme with GigaOm leading the charge with their coverage.

gigaom techmeme state of twittersphere twitter report

Twitter Grader Algorithm

Posted Mike Volpe on 4/29/09 8:01 PM

I got a question on Twitter about how works.  I needed more than 140 characters. So here is a super quick and dirty blog post about how Twitter Grader computes the score.

Basically, Twitter Grader measures the authority of any user on Twitter.  This authority is computed by looking at the following factors from the entire database (over 2 million users today).

  1. Power of your network.  This means both the number of followers you have, as well as the power of your followers (the number of followers they have, etc.).
  2. Amount of interaction and influence.  How often do you tweet?  How many of your tweets are retweeted?  How often do people send @ replies to you?
  3. The basics.  Do you have a bio? Do you have a link in your profile?  Do you have a photo?  Do you update regularly?

The score is a 1-100 rank based on a percentile computation, so if you are in the top 1%, your scores is 99.

MC Hammer Says You Can't Touch Twitter

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/21/09 11:36 AM

We got very lucky and MC Hammer stopped by yesterday.  Cool!

See all episodes in iTunes ( or on the web (

Twitter Can Deliver Real Business Value

Posted Mike Volpe on 1/21/09 12:21 PM

I recently responded to a discussion on an email group about the business value (or lack of value)from using Twitter.  I thought others would find my answer interesting.  Most of the people thought Twitter was a complete waste of time.  I disagree.

Twitter Charity Challenge Comes to a Close

Posted Mike Volpe on 1/2/09 10:51 AM

The Twitter Charity Challengeended on 12/31.  Here are some of the accomplishments:

  • $508 raised for charity by people following @mvolpe, plus I added $50 since Twitter did an account cleanup and dropped my followers by 100 during the month
  • 6 other people joined the fun (thanks @corbett3000, @jessieX, @pmhesse, @SeanDaily, @JordanAyan, @dankeldsen) adding to the total raised and the number of people that heard about our causes

Overall it was a lot of fun and I'm glad I did it.  I actually don't think doing the challenge increased the number of people that were following me - I gained 1,050 followers in November... about the same amount as in December with the challenge.

I did learn a few things.  Some things I would do differently next time are:

  • Start earlier so more people can join in and still have time to make a difference - and solicit friends to join before I publicly announced it.
  • Use a wiki or public document for everyone to join and track their own donations.  There is no reason the Google Spreadsheet I used could not have been edited by lots of people and been a stacked chart to show the total raised for all charities.

Thanks everyone for your participation and help!

Twitter Growing by 10,000 Accounts Each Day

Posted Mike Volpe on 12/23/08 10:15 AM

I just finished the first ever "State of the Twittersphere" report using data on over 600,000 Twitter profiles from Twitter Grader (yes, it slowed down Excel a bit).  There were a bunch of interesting trends, but the most surprising to me was that based on my estimates from looking at the data, Twitter seems to be growing by 5,000 to 10,000 new accounts per day.

See the full "State of the Twittersphere" report.

Twitter Growing by 10,000 per day 

Twitter Charity Challenge Update

Posted Mike Volpe on 12/10/08 4:30 PM

One update to the Twitter Charity Challenge... 

Peter Corbett has joined me with the same basic details.  Together as of the morning of 12/10/08 we have both raised a total of $265 for charity.  Read Peter's blog article about the charitites he is supporting.

If you want to join, reply or DM me on Twitter or leave a comment below.  Peter and I would be happy to have others join the Twitter Charity Challenge.

@mvolpe Twitter Charity Challenge Update


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