What’s in a tweet?

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The consulting company I occasionally do work for joined Twitter a few months ago (in part through the gentle nudging of yours truly). It’s a government-focused company, and a significant portion of the work is in the defense and aerospace industry. Which conjures up images of retired Air Force officers and government contractors rather than social-media savvy tweeters.

Out of curiosity, I went back to the original email to one of the firm’s partners that I believe spurred on the decision to jump on the Twitter bandwagon:

Also, as a separate and kind of random note, do you know if there is any thought on Avascent getting on Twitter? … Hard to say how effective it would be for actually creating business (in a measurable way), but maybe doesn’t hurt for branding purposes? (McKinsey and Booz are on it… Teal Group, apparently, is not.)

I wouldn’t consider myself a Twitter “power user,” and I don’t have a massive following; but it is a significant part of my professional life and something that is pretty habitual.

The fact that no one in my family and very few of my close friends use it doesn’t really faze me — to a lot of them, Twitter is seen as a place to find out what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast.

But somehow, the thought of running a business and not being on Twitter didn’t sit right — even for retired Air Force officers and defense research analysts.

In any case, it got me thinking about Twitter’s diverse range of uses, which, when you’re in it, seem prima facie. But it’s interesting to consider the value proposition of Twitter across different industries and user groups — which aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive!

Twitter Value Prop slide

Confession: I canceled my print subscription to Sports Illustrated.

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I’d been a subscriber to SI’s weekly print magazine for the past several years and a casual reader since I was about 9. (I think I still have my first issue, which was from 1995 when the Braves won the World Series.) I loved Tom Verducci’s tug-at-the-heartstrings baseball stories, Joe Posnanski’s wit and sarcasm, S.L. Price’s tales of sports in faraway places.

But at some point, the pile of unread issues that would inevitably end up in the recycling bin started becoming a guilty burden. A print magazine is not the place to keep up with breaking news, and you can access all of the articles for free from SI Vault about a week after the magazine comes out. So having the physical print version became redundant and more of a symbol than anything else. (I also enjoy discovering content, and I think “SI overload” became an issue once I started writing for the website’s breaking news blog.)

There’s a lot of stuff out there and a lot of competition for people’s attention. I recently sent out a few friends-and-family emails about The Rundown’s newsletter, this time with a much clearer and more direct message, no caveats or waffling. And grew my list considerably as a result. New subscribers included close friends who had been very supportive of the idea but not subscribed.

Takeaway? Taking a “good content will be found” and “if you build it, they will come” approach is not effective. With so many distractions and so much content out there, a couple of casual mentions won’t do it. You have to put just as much effort and thought into the marketing/promo process as you do creating the product/content itself.