Editorial note: hello after a long absence, folks! I am genuinely sorry (though not apologetic, per se) that it’s been so long.
We’ve done some staff hiring over at Hit Subscribe, so I’m starting to have the faintest glimpse of the time required to resume creating content here on DaedTech. And that content will continue to focus on themes in the business of freelancing series.
Today I’m getting back on the horse by sharing a post that I’ll publish both here and on the Hit Subscribe blog. I’m doing that because the content is at the intersection of developer hustles and marketing. Generally, we do a data-driven analysis and modeling of the marketing channels that we use.
This post is about the viability of Twitter as a marketing platform, if you intend to market to fellow engineers. So if you’re considering a hustle where you’re marketing to your fellow engineers (or just curious about doing so), this is worth reading.
Onward, To the Content!
Software engineers hang out on Twitter.
I know this anecdotally and by feel because I spent most of my career as a software engineer and I’ve had a Twitter account for more than a decade. But you can confirm this somewhat more objectively as well.
For instance, a Google search for “programmers to follow on Twitter” does get actual search volume (per Keywords Everywhere). When I plugged in other vocations, like lawyer, doctor, and teacher, no search volume registered.
While my initial Twitter presence was largely to interact professionally and promote a hobby blog, about seven years ago I went into business for myself as a consultant. So social media started to become a lead generation channel for services and any products I offered. Twitter was no exception.
I dutifully promoted content and offerings on Twitter and LinkedIn because that’s just “Marketing Your Business 101.” Best practices and all that. I imagine that a lot of startup founders and indies, like me, do this by rote.
Asking the Question: Should Brands Market to Developers on Twitter?
But for reasons I won’t bore you with here, I wound up shifting from writing software to starting a developer marketing business about four years ago. And with this business, we take a kind of Moneyball/Freakonomics-style approach to content campaigns. We don’t take on work unless we can model out, at least in the abstract, ROI on the content we create.
That recently brought me full circle to ask what I should have asked all those years ago: is Twitter a worthwhile marketing channel for reaching engineers?
Common sense and anecdotal experience say yes. But nagging doubts have been creeping in as I study successful influencers’ use of the platform.
It’s not that I doubt that they reach people and build relationships. There’s no doubt about that. It’s more that I think their love of the Twitter game causes them to lose sight of how much labor (and thus cost) they sink into the platform to get those results.
And that’s fine for influencers in the space. But it can translate to an attractive nuisance for brands. And these days, I’m in the business of helping brands’ marketing departments avoid wasting money on attractive nuisances.
So let’s take a data-driven look at Twitter, using the data that I have available to me: my tweets and my followers. All of this content and people skew heavily programmer.