Twitter: Never stop experimenting. Test. Learn. Adjust. Repeat.

Twitter: Never stop experimenting. Test. Learn. Adjust. Repeat.

Christopher Murphy · 10 September, 2020

In our hyper-visual age, it's tempting to think that all the action is on Instagram and that Twitter's past its peak. I think that's a big mistake.

Twitter has a large, and growing, audience and to overlook that audience is to miss out on countless opportunities. As we know – all too well, in an era of presidential tweets – Twitter plays host to everyone from entrepreneurs and executives to pop stars and presidents.

The possibilities for connections are endless, but making those connections requires intent and a considered strategy.

If you're building a business – like I am once againTwitter is an incredibly powerful channel to have at your disposal. Invest some time in it and you'll accelerate your opportunities.

Experiment, Experiment, Experiment

If there's one thing I've learned on Propel it's this: Never stop experimenting. This is certainly the case when it comes to crafting a content strategy for Twitter.

In one of our Founder Firesides, Connor Murphy – who is busy replacing LinkedIn with a fantastic startup called Bridge – shared a lesson that really stuck with me:

You need to experiment, constantly.

As Murphy (no relation) put it: "Never stop experimenting, because you never know if your next experiment will deliver a ×10, ×100, ×1,000 (or more) return." There are lessons in every experiment and there are no failed experiments.

I've found this to be the case with Twitter. Like any communication channel it passes through phases. In its first iteration, tweets were constrained to 140 characters. In its current iteration, tweets are a more leisurely 280 characters.

That change, from 140 to 280 characters, fundamentally changed the platform. Strategies that might once have held true for the constraints of 140 characters don't translate to twice the space.

You need to experiment, constantly.

Growing Your Audience

It's never too late to start growing your audience, but where do you even begin to start?

In late May, Jens Lennartsson very generously gave me a copy of his excellent book, worksheet and screencast: Twitter for No-Coders: Grow an Audience of Paying Customers in 30 Days. I started reading it last night and it's filled with actionable advice.

If you've ever launched a new product only for it to fall flat on its face due to disinterest or found your follower count growing in slow motion, you'll find Lennartsson's book indispensable.

Like all good books (and like almost all of the books I've written) it's essentially:

  • Focused common sense with a sprinkling of smart thinking.
  • Everything you need to know gathered in one, easy-to-access location.
  • A provocation and, above all, a call-to-action.

I planned to review the book, but I wanted to put it's techniques into practice and share some of them here. I'm not going to share everything in Lennartsson's book because I don't want to take the wind out of his sales. (Buy his book, or better still buy the course, it's very good!)

What follows is an experiment, undertaken with Lennartsson's permission. I'll be keeping a diary throughout July as I test some of his ideas (and augment them with a few of my own).

Rethink Your Bio

One of the exercises I use to kick off my workshops for creative entrepreneurs is Micro Biographies. It encourages participants to thinks about who they are and what they do, but constrain that to first ~160 characters, then ~80 characters. (I love constraints.)

Step 3 in Lennartsson's guide is: Write a Descriptive Bio.

I had a bio, of course, and I've refined it and distilled it over the last few months (that's on top of countless past refinements and distillations over years, reflecting different pasts).

This was my bio, pre- 5 June, 2020:

A designer, writer and speaker. I’m a teacher, but I’m still on my own learning journey. → designtrack.org → Design × Business

When I re-read the above in the cold light of day, other than accurately describing what I do, it didn't really capture what I offer.

I decided to start again, using the latest iteration of The School of Design pitch as a starting point. I'm still working on this, but I've been through a couple of iterations.

In reality this is probably v102, but – for simplicity – I've called it v2 (4 June):

Building The School of Design, a community for high-performing individuals who want to learn about the power of design × business to accelerate their lives.

Talking with my micro-accountability partner-in-crime, Mr Ben, the words 'high-performing individuals' and 'accelerate their lives' didn't sit right, so here's v2.1 (5 June):

Building The School of Design, a community for aspiring self-starters who want to learn about the power of design × business. Join us!

Here’s a possible v2.2 (8 June), but it might not fit due to Twitter’s 160 character limit:

Building The School of Design, a community for entrepreneurs who are building the design × business startups of tomorrow. Join us!

Finally, here’s v2.3 (July onwards), which clarifies that we work with design-focused entrepreneurs, and replaces ‘design × business startups of tomorrow’ – which, on reflection, is hard to unravel – with ‘products of tomorrow’:

The School of Design is a community for design-focused entrepreneurs, building the products of tomorrow.

Three Tweets a Day

I've been through past phases of three tweets a day, four tweets a day, even ten tweets a day. I've been through phases of track everything and track nothing.

My last phase was a strategy of silence (more or less). Anyone who knows me, knows I was very unwell (unable to work for six months, unwell) in early 2018. It's only recently that I've been back to full strength (and I'm glad to be back).

Step 5 in Lennartsson's guide is: Write Three Great Tweets a Day

I'll be honest, after reading Cal Newport's book Deep Work, this is a strategy I've adopted before, and I've eschewed it in favour of, well, deep work.

Scratch Notes

Everything below here is scratch content for my own reference. I’d stop reading now, unless you want to see into my brain.

10 September, 2020

Repurposing

In 1988, when I embarked upon my degree at Glasgow School of Art, I recall seeing a sticker on a lamp post that has remained, tucked away in a corner of my mind, for decades since. The sticker stated:

Live without dead time.

It took me 30 years (the creation of the web and the invention of Google) to attribute this small piece of graffiti to the Situationists. (But that’s another story.)

Here I need to mention my repurposing strategy, which I think goes some way towards addressing Newport's points. (Plus I don't agree with some of Newport's points!)

I build these tweets based on listening to our Founder Firesides, and Propel's Founder Firesides. I also build them while listening to TED talks as a way of sparking my thinking and building essay foundations.

I need to mention here, looking at: James Clear, Tiago Forte, David Perell, etc.. I've stated to adopt a micro essay form as a way of exploring the constraints of Twitter to create small points of provocation.

Sales, Sales, Sales = Lose, Lose, Lose:

Don't be the person who's always in sales mode. Be the person who wants to collaborate with others, explore, share…

…that gets you to the sales (and more of them).

Assumptions, Code and No-Code:

Validate your assumptions and your features with traffic (#nocode is perfect for this) before investing in code (if you need to).

Validation:

  1. Is this product needed? Is anyone actually going to use it?
  2. More importantly: Is anyone going to pay for it?

The real test is, "Will people pay for this?" Move beyond free and you'll find out if your idea has mileage.

Pricing:

Start high and work your way downwards.

If too many people say yes, move your price up. If you're not selling, incrementally test lower price points.

Free:

It's easy to add things, it's harder to take them away.

Don't give away too much for free. It sets a benchmark and leads to difficult decisions when you remove the free.

New ideas…

James Clear:

One form of originality is creation. Another form is synthesis.
People often focus so much on creating new ideas that they overlook the value of synthesizing ideas from different sources.
Innovation usually mean connecting previously unconnected concepts.

Notes

This is David Perell's How To Crush It on Twitter course.