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17 Jan

Ah, you think Twitter is your ally? You merely adopted Twitter; I was born in it, moulded by it.

Here's a simple observation I've made in my 2+ years of heading Brand Marketing at Stoa. And it isn't just about Twitter but about all marketing channels in general.

In brand marketing, differentiation is key. We all know that. Contrast is what helps your brand stand out on any marketing channel.

But what only a few smart marketers realize is that the marketing channel imposes its own formats and raises its users in a kind of environment that helps them build taste in certain areas versus others.

For example, Twitter has always been a text-heavy channel.

Not only has it conventionally attracted people who are comfortable reading and sharing ideas using words, but it also simultaneously raises the bar for its users when it comes to short-form text.

This is why it is very hard to build a following on Twitter or have undisclosed paid promotions without people immediately calling you out on it. Essentially, Twitter as a platform builds taste for raw insight and ideas over something like audio or video.

Instagram does something similar, but for photography.

Remember, the platform started by attracting the world's best photographers. This meant that even pure consumers of content on the platform built a great taste for photography and visuals.

A typical Instagram user may not have really good taste when it comes to written content, but it will definitely be hard to stand out on the platform in the absence of great visual appeal. The bar for beauty and visual aesthetics is already set quite high.

YouTube did it for video production quality and visual storytelling.

Before YouTube, you only expected high video quality from something you saw in cinemas or on TV. But after YouTube arrived on the scene, people gradually got used to seeing increasingly high levels of video production quality.

To compete on YouTube and stand out, high production quality is not even creating any contrast, it's just table stakes at this point. Viewers just expect good production quality, or they will likely not think too highly of your content.

Likewise with TikTok.

In my opinion, TikTok raised the bar for how creative you could get in your cinematography and editing just by using your smartphone camera.

Before TikTok, people largely assumed that you could scarcely do anything more than shoot a standard vlog using your smartphone. TikTok challenged that assumption by providing its creators with the right set of simple tools they'd need to explore their creativity.

And I think this observation is important because it lets you know how much work you'll have to put into each platform just to meet table stakes.

Competing on YouTube in terms of video production quality is really hard now. So, if you wish to stand out on YouTube, you necessarily have to think of axes of differentiation other than production quality.

In the case of Twitter, there's simply no sustainable way to stand out other than having the ability to tweet or shitpost smartly. 

When marketers who do not understand the channel try to exploit it for distribution, they often fall flat on their face — something that happens with most channels but is most evident on Twitter. Heck, even chatGPT has a hard time creating really good tweets!

The issue is how to create contrast. But to create contrast, you need to first understand the background you're standing against.

And if you're not a student of the channel or have sufficient execution prowess to meet the platform's tastes, you're better off not using the channel or thinking of other axes to differentiate on, while meeting the constraints of the channel and its audience.

It's just a personal observation. Perhaps, also a good way to think about product-marketing channel fit, or team-marketing channel fit.

You don't want your social media team to be spamming hashtags on Twitter now, do you?




The latest edition of the Stoa Digest is really good, if I dare say so myself.

Check out the full edition here.

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