My mom loves aphorisms (sometimes cliches). One I remember: You can't please all the people all the time. It's true. This public unfollowing got me thinking about how we use social media and capture lasting attention.
I've gotten a couple complaints about feeding my workout information to Twitter. Not many, but definitely a few. First, an explanation about the origin of this information. It comes from DailyMile , a great social training site that I use to keep track of my running, swimming and biking. One of the options it has is to tie the info into your existing social networks. This is pretty smart, in my opinion.
At times, I feel pretty goofy about this. I don't update Twitter on how much I've run to show off as some super athlete. I'm not. I do it because running (and now training for a triathlon) is an important part of what I do. If you buy into the theory of ambient intimacy, these are precisely the updates that fill in the picture. It's not part of a strategy. I started using Twitter not as a professional tool but a way to keep in touch with a few friends and family members. It became something different, but I'd rather that didn't completely change what I share, even if plenty of people, like former follower David Felfoldi, find it superfluous. Most of my followers are in some way in the marketing industry. I understand that. But several dozen are runners or endurance athletes not very interested in ad stuff. I've thought about and decided against having a separate account for running. Would I then need a separate account for French mimes? As Michael Lebowitz said, "One thing Twitter isn't is one thing." This is why Fred Wilson continues to intersperse his updates related to digital media and innovation with music recommendations. Fred is not just a VC. He's passionate about music.
The interesting part I've found is that when I run into people, what they remember is the running updates. They're only about 10% of what I write, but they're what captures lasting attention. My guess is they're somewhat unique, as opposed to the usual blather about marketing. Just this morning, three people mentioned my running updates (in a positive way, I think) when we spoke at an event. This is always the case. That's nice because running is something I'm quite passionate about. This is the flip side to an experience I had a year ago when I used Twitter to complain about intrusive and brain-dead PR practices. Even though PR also was never more than 10 percent of what I wrote, many people thought it was much more. I soon realized this was a bad thing. The last thing I want to be known as is a PR scold. Mike Arrington can do that. That's why I don't write about PR anymore, for the most part. They're not for everyone. A year ago, my running updates and PR complaints became a key part of a Twitter doppelganger's @fakebmorrissey act.
What it teaches me is something I wrote about earlier: the need for differentiation. There are hundreds of people out there sharing the same links, making the same observations and cracking similar wisecracks. Twitter is wonderful, yet completely ephemeral. It's the things outside the norm that capture people's attention. What's more, it's things you're genuinely passionate about that capture attention. The great promise of social media is there's no faking it. People will find you out, whether it's a company or individual, if you're not what you present. The cost is some people won't like it and will unfollow me. I'm OK with that.