Friday, April 3, 2009

How Twitter Killed My Career in Advertising

I guess you could say that Twitter killed my career in advertising.

Flashback to a year ago, when I first started tweeting as @tunie. I was still working at the agency, as the Michigan economy slowly ground to a halt. Some clients disappeared altogether, others were slashing budgets. We figured survival was a matter of concentrating on winning new business in some of the healthier market sectors. Nobody'd heard of "social media", not me, not us, not our clients, not the other agencies, and digital marketing meant having a website and maybe an online contest. YouTube was still less than 2 years old. Certainly, nobody knew what Twitter was.

Twitter didn't even seem like a big deal to those of us on it. It was kind of like our weird little passion, hard to explain to others.

Anyway, a strange thing began to happen. Compared to what was going on at the agency, Twitter, the people I was meeting, and the things I was learning there, seemed much more relevant and exciting.

Through Twitter, I met people who were running online newspapers, people who gathered for microcoworking, people who were creating a citywide wireless network. I got to know bloggers and online entrepreneurs. I started reading links from my well-informed Twitterfriends... and slowly got a glimmer of a clue. I learned about and attended a Startup Weekend and helped launch a business. I reconnected with old friends in the Ann Arbor high-tech world, and they suddenly seemed very much aligned with my interests as a designer/marketer, whereas before, they seemed to inhabit a different universe.

Meantime, mainstream marketing wasn't keeping up. Companies wanted brochureware sites based on their org charts and full of opaque acronyms. Oh, and it has to be a Flash site. It didn't feel right, and it wasn't fun anymore.

But I couldn't quite put my finger on what felt wrong about it. I couldn't see yet that marketing was about to change. I figured it was just me, some personal sea change, spurred by the tough economic climate.

And then... I immersed myself in the new world that Twitter introduced me to. I've spent the last several months helping entrepreneurs launch, learning WordPress and other blogging platforms, starting several blogs, reading A-list bloggers like Chris Brogan and David Meerman Scott, evangelizing and getting a couple good friends blogging. I've done really satisfying web design, taken classes in HTML and CSS, learned about web platforms like Ruby and Drupal, and dabbled in coding and webapp development. Got some major buzz for partnering with @bigeasy on the Twitter robocall tracker mashup. I've learned about keyword rich copy. SEO, and PPC advertising, attended seminars at Google, and am happily addicted to Google Analytics. I've been attending Meetups and joining groups devoted to digital marketing and social media, new tech and entrepreneurship. I know how to deploy e-books, video, corporate blogs and web PR. I've built and fine-tuned a social media presence across many sites, and I own Google page one for my name. Now I'm working on owning Google page one for... hmmm, I'm not sure what just yet, but I sure as hell know exactly how to go about it!

And I'm putting everything I've learned to work for my entrepreneur clients, for myself, and for my friends that I want to bring along with me, who are too valuable to be left behind.

And I'm excited about advertising and marketing again.