How @purplehayz tweets


How @purplehayz tweets


This post was started because I get asked regularly if I ever sleep.

I do, typically from 10P Pacific time til about 4:30A each night (regular sleep hours are best after all). But, you might not know that if you look at my tweet stream, since I have tweets happening at all hours of the day. I hope this post will explain how and why I do this.

I know some of my goals and practices will rub some people the wrong way, since I’ve already had discussions on Twitter about some of them; one of Twitter’s strengths is that you can use it to achieve your goals whether others like them or not, as long as you respect your peers.

My Goals

Converse when I’m available so I can meet new tweeters; I love to have conversations on Twitter, and I’ve made many friends on Twitter. In some cases I also IM and Skype with people I’ve met on Twitter; ask me, if we’ve conversed on Twitter I’ll probably give you my IM handle on GoogleTalk. I’ve even met a few people I know from Twitter in the non-virtual realm.

Build informative tweets while I’m reading RSS feeds a few times during the day; this must be efficient as I don’t have lots of time to read feeds and I read a lot. I used to do this when Usenet News and bulletin board systems were the only games in town

Create an Informative tweet stream of 6 tweets an hour from 8A – 9P, 1 – 4 tweets per hour from 9P – 8A; weekend and holiday evenings are optional. If I don’t do this, I exceed the limits for tweets per hour, or spend too much time tweeting, both of which frustrates me greatly. As @iamkhayyam knows, you need time away from anything you love, and that’s why I often take off weekend evenings.

Automate some parts of tweet broadcasting, and it needed to be easy and fast with minimum clicks and text entry to get the job done.

Follow everyone that follows me – I unfollow and sometimes block people that tweet one-dimensionally (for example only want to talk about employment or only trying to sell me something). Conversations are two way, so I expect we’ll have a symbiotic I-follow-you/you-follow-me relationship.

Why I tweet overnight

Twitter reminds me of the time I emailed with someone in the early ’90s about some open source software I was helping port (Lucid Emacs to AIX 3.1.5 in case you wondered). It turned out that person was located in the Soviet Union at the time when the Communists were staging their coup against Gorbachev. The other person working on the software port was in the UK. The world had flattened for me in the 1990s; I worked for a company that was already outsourcing development to India in the early 1990s. Twitter lets me make friends all over the world, which I find exciting. And this means there are people following me in all timezones, including ones where I’m asleep during the meat of their day. So what if our conversations are time shifted – in this flat, out-sourced world just get used to it!

And, as I played with metrics tools to measure my Twitter impact, I realized that I needed to tweet at least a bit overnight.

Tools I use

My main tool is TweetDeck, which I use for conversations and to read tweets. I used to use their groups feature pretty heavily, but the latest version allowed me to port my groups to Twitter Lists, and that lets me use other tools with my lists when I need to. I also use the “reply to” link to keep track of what conversation a given tweet belongs with; a Twitter conversation can and should span hours, so having that reply link is important. Some clients don’t implement the reply link – if yours doesn’t, you should pick another client, unless you take pleasure in frustrating me, of course.

The next most important tool I use is SocialOomph; that allows me to quickly and easily create an informational tweet stream scheduled for an entire day as I read RSS and email messages (yes, I’m also on a number of email lists); I wrote a custom Greasemonkey script to make the SocialOomph entry page content appear on one page with no scrolling when I enter a tweet, a huge efficiency gain (the SocialOomph folks have improved the page design but its still not all above the fold and the script still works); HootSuite is my backup when SocialOomph is down, its just not as quick to use to schedule tweets and the ability to view scheduled tweets is limited; efficiency is the name of the game here. You can also use Social Oomph to opt out of auto-DMs.

I use TweetLevel, Klout and Twitter Grader for metrics; I used to check these more often but I’ve gained a bit of intuition for some of the measurements.

I use FriendOrFollow and Twitter Karma for follow/unfollow; I’m also using Who is following who on Twitter? and @goodbyebuddy to watch for strange follow/unfollow behavior

Google Reader and Gruml for reading RSS feeds (I haven’t met a web interface I liked for reading RSS feeds, or much else from a serious application perspective); This lets me stop and start from any computer at any time; Gruml is very beta and crashes often though

My typical Twitter day

Get up, read Usenet News and Email, culling anything interesting. Then read RSS feeds in Gruml – I do this typically 3 – 8 times a day. My morning goal is to fill from 8A – 12P typically by 7A; then I try to fill to 4P by noon; finally the rest of the afternoon and evening as time allows. If I have time I fill in some tweets overnight. I typically fill the hour, :20 and :40 slots with web design and coding links, the 30 minute slot with other technical links, and then the rest is whatever tickles my fancy. If I have time to read news, I post those entries on the 5 minute increments.

When I have time, I check out what’s happening on TweetDeck and tweet. I try to RT interesting articles when I can; this passes information around my network as well as providing positive feedback to others on what I’m finding interesting in their feed.

Some suggested practices

I don’t change my avatar. Ever. I think the image is one way people can quickly find my tweets (I know that’s how I quickly find people’s tweets). We are image processing workhorses, we humans are, and so its really quick to find a given avatar, not as fast to find a name. If you want to know what I look like (and aren’t afraid of breaking your monitor) you can see pictures of me here.Tags: , , ,

I try to post fewer lists of things anymore; I think most of the people following me have gotten past the need for that and I don’t want to bore people following me.

@KellyShibari validated my practice of replying when I can get to it, which may be hours later; Twitter, like email, is a time-delayed as well as near real-time communications medium. Use Twitter’s “reply to” link to see what I’m replying to. This is why I say conversations may traverse hours.

I use Twitter Lists to follow people that interest me more closely, but then I look into the general stream from time to time to find new people that interest me.

I keep the following columns open in TweetDeck and in this order left to right:

  • All friends
  • @purplehayz/friends
  • Mentions
  • Direct Messages
  • @purplehayz/True Blood
  • @purplehayz/Google
  • New Followers

I’ve begun looking at the New Followers list and blocking accounts that look really strange or are immediately sending out spam.


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  1. Tweets that mention How @purplehayz tweets | Aleph Naught & the Null Set --
    4:18 pm on December 24th, 2009

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by purplehayz, purplehayz. purplehayz said: [Blog] : How @purplehayz tweets […]

  2. purplehayz (purplehayz)
    12:17 am on December 25th, 2009
  3. Leora
    10:43 am on December 25th, 2009

    Now that’s definitely the most interesting post I’ve read all day. So you 1) biologically don’t need much sleep 2) realize the world consists of more than the greater NY (or in your case CA) area and 3) you like conversation and reading articles. Still fuzzy on how you make a living and how you do anything else in life. But this my first time reading your blog.

  4. admin
    12:56 pm on December 25th, 2009

    I typically get 4 – 6 hours sleep and that works for me mostly.

    I started out as a software programmer and now manage software development and architecture teams (I’ve had some, I think very good, leadership training for example); I was laid off in November 2009 so I’m pounding the pavement looking for work. My first full time position in my field took me to Saudi Arabia for 3 months running a computer system in Jubail on the east coast (the Arabian, not the Persian, Gulf, as the base commander reminded me forcefully once). I’ve been enamored with travel ever since, love seeing new things and working and interacting with different cultures.

    I also like composing music; you can find pages on my blog for a few of our trips – I’m in the process of moving content from my old website to this blog – as well as listen to some of my music; I just found a set of cassette tapes I thought had been lost of live some of my music, so I hope to digitize that at some point as well.

    But most of all thanks for reading this!

  5. Kimberly Castleberry
    10:48 am on December 28th, 2009

    Thanks for this awesome post! I LOVE learning what automation techniques others are using. I’m such a tech baby and a global baby that sometimes it doesn’t occur to me that others don’t REALIZE the world is flat! Some of my best friends are halfway across the world… and we talk more than me and my next door neighbor do!

    I really appreciate the links for the software your using. I played with Socialoomph and its solid, but I went with as more of an “all in one” solution (and slightly cheaper). Thanks for sharing!


  6. admin
    2:49 pm on December 28th, 2009

    I find that the free version of SocialOomph works well for me (up to 12 tweets per hour) – I’ve tried more than that pre-programmed and its too intrusive into my life, and social media is after all supposed to be part of a whole social system, right? 🙂

    Thanks for your supportive comments! – Bob

  7. uberVU - social comments
    6:47 am on January 24th, 2010

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by purplehayz: [Blog] : How @purplehayz tweets

  8. ms10e (ms10e)
    2:23 pm on January 24th, 2010

    I already wondered if he ever sleeps because he tweets day and night… How @purplehayz tweets – very interesting

  9. Suzanne Vara
    12:08 am on February 3rd, 2010


    This is a post that takes a bit to look further into. Sleep in social media is a luxury. Interesting how you sleep 10 to 4 being on the west. I do it opposite and stay up to 2 and get back on at 8 … ok really 9. This is a classic example of knowing or letting your audience know when you are “live.”

    Changed avatars kill me. It is like who the heck is that showing up on my “cool peeps” center of tweet deck. Every so often I change it as well with women the change of seasons means a bit of a change of hair color.


  10. Nicolas
    8:11 pm on February 11th, 2010

    Super post, Need to mark it on Digg
    Have a nice day

  11. valerie
    9:46 am on February 18th, 2010

    I am delighted to see you publishing, and will continue reading if you keep writing.

  12. Punit Pandey
    2:02 am on March 8th, 2010

    Excellent post purplehayz. Thanks for sharing your Twitter secret with the worold. I also found the tools mentioned very useful.

  13. WPExplorer
    12:32 pm on May 16th, 2010

    Wow you have A LOT of followers.Congrats.

    I agree…you do not need much sleep. I tend to sleep about 4-6 hours every night. Being able to use those extra 2-3 hours everyday can do miracles in terms of your business as well as personal growth. Plus, sleeping is a bit overrated.

    It seems that you really know how to tweet. I have never been a good “twitter-er” so some of your tips will definitely come in handy.

    Have you ever done any sort of “sponsored tweets”? These seem very popular these days and you could be making some decent money with the amount of followers you have.

  14. admin
    5:04 am on May 17th, 2010


    I have tried sponsored tweets and they’ve generally not been useful – they seem spammie and don’t really fit into my “flow.”

    And I think followers is a bad metric – I see folks with many more followers that have little or nothing to say.

    Thanks again for your comment, I read your RSS feed daily; keep tweeting! – Bob

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