The Best of Matthew Kobach: Big Ideas From His Last 3,000 Tweets

Dear Everybody,

Matthew Kobach runs social media for the New York Stock Exchange. He also tweets about social media, marketing, and creativity.

I organized and distilled his last 3,000 tweets into a summary of his big ideas, in three parts:

  1. Social Media, Marketing, and Life Philosophy

  2. Comparing Social Networks

  3. Social Media Tips


PART ONE: SOCIAL MEDIA, MARKETING, AND LIFE PHILOSOPHY


Add value…

  • People only read stuff that will benefit them

  • People only care about what your brand can do for them

  • Posting the wrong content can cost you your audience

  • The more value you provide, the easier it is to attract

  • I just got you to read this tweet by speaking to your needs

  • If you’re a brand you can stick to just posting content that your audience might actually enjoy

State your value…

  • I’m just trying to make branded social media suck less

  • I’m just out here trying to separate the wheat from the chaff

  • I just try to tweet things people actually want to read

  • I try to use words to simplify complex ideas

  • I try to be a lighthouse for like-minded people, all while working to improve my ability to communicate ideas

  • Convey how your profile might be useful

Follow wisely…

  • Follow people who are better thinkers than you

  • Follow people who are different thinkers than you

  • Follow people who are better than you at what you do

  • Follow what interests you

  • Who you are on Twitter is largely dependent on who you follow on Twitter

Pay attention…

  • Focus on other people’s needs, and surround yourself with people who do the same

  • The most flattering thing you can do for someone is to listen to them

  • Charismatic people make you feel like you’re the only person who matters

  • Let the other person do most of the talking

Understand people…

  • Understanding people is just as important as understanding platforms

  • If you want to understand how people use technology to communicate, you first need to understand how people communicate without it

  • By understanding how our brains are hardwired, you can better predict how we will use any new technology

  • We operate more on feelings and emotions than facts and rationales

  • Understand how people consume content before you begin creating content

  • Most people don’t voluntarily consume ads

  • Sometimes there is no playbook and you have to operate solely on instinct

  • People don’t follow you for other people’s thoughts

  • Sometimes what people want is the opposite of what people say they want

  • Knowing what people actually want is much more important than knowing what people say they want

  • We only think we know what we want (when, in fact, we don’t know what we want)

Understand the medium…

  • We weren’t designed to use social media; social media was designed to use us.

  • Social media would be more accurately described as social signaling

  • “Social media” is more accurately described as “social status media”

  • Refusing to post bad content is just as important as posting great content

  • You can only use social media to channel existing desire and direct it towards your product or service

  • The more you learn about social media the more you learn how much more there is to learn

  • Social media marketing requires as much learning as it does unlearning

Tweet what you like…

  • Tweet about things you’re passionate about

  • Tweet about things you find interesting

  • Tweet the stuff you’d like to see in your newsfeed

  • Tweet the right stuff and eventually the right people find you

Learn by doing…

  • If you want to understand something better, tweet about it

  • A great way to better understand anything is to talk to people about it

  • The best way to make sure knowledge sticks is to apply it

  • The goal is to become a better writer, to meet interesting people, and to better understand yourself

Post, and post often…

  • Tweeting helps you figure out who you are

  • Kids learn stuff by jumping in and just going for it

  • The more you do it the better you get

  • You can’t become better at writing tweets without writing tweets

  • Post at least one tweet every day (to become a better writer)

  • Consistency leads to proficiency (and social media rewards proficiency)

  • Expecting to be good at social media without any practice is like expecting to write a bestselling novel on your first try

Focus…

  • You don't need more time (you need more focused time)

  • You’re either doing one thing fully (or you’re doing multiple things partially)

  • Take the time to do one thing, and only one thing, deeply

  • If you don’t know what you should be working on, everything is a distraction

  • Having no creative constraints is a constraint

  • A good way to figure out what you want to do is to first figure out what you don’t want to do

Build for a rainy day…

  • Take the time to build an engaged audience so that when you have something you want people to hear, they are already eager to listen

  • Build an engaged audience when you don't need to so you don't need to

  • Exercise before you have to (so you don’t have to)

Be niche and be consistent…

  • Start with a niche and expand from there (the reserve doesn’t work)

  • Building a community on social media cannot be achieved by posting one great piece of content

  • The benefit of content compounds

  • The value of an ad isn’t in a single ad, it’s in the accumulation of ads

  • Post content that resonates over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

Do what currently works…

  • There’s the stuff that used to work and the stuff that currently works

  • Never be married to an idea that used to work

  • There are also a lot of social media “best practices” that were never true to begin with

  • Don’t create something just to “put it on social media” (a spoon is a great tool but that doesn’t mean you can use it to cut a steak)

Don’t forget, the content actually needs to be good…

  • Focus on relevant content

  • Focus on great content for social media

  • Know what content won’t work

  • Without quality, everything else is moot

Don’t forget, great content spreads…

  • Create something that compels people to tell their friends

  • Provide such an outstanding experience that people willingly share it with everyone they know

  • Spend as much time figuring out how to get people to stop and watch your content as you do creating the content itself

Write well…

  • I scroll past poorly written tweets (and so does everyone else)

  • A well-written tweet is a work of art

  • Social media is a light medium, so write casually

  • Communication is less about adding things, and more about ruthlessly subtracting every single element that fails to increase the clarity of your message

  • When you write to impress, you don’t (when you write to communicate, you impress)

  • You can build a community based on nothing more than your clarity of thinking and writing

  • Simplify your writing (because people have better things to do than read your advertisements)

  • Pack as much wisdom as you can into the least amount of characters possible, all while keeping it easy to read

  • Make your social media posts easy to read because if you don’t there’s an easier post to read right underneath yours

  • How you deliver the message is just as important as the message itself

  • Some tweets contain more wisdom than most books

Be honest (with yourself and others)…

  • Being honest with who you are is a superpower

  • Being honest about what your brand stands for is a superpower

  • The more honest you are with yourself, the less anyone else can hurt you

  • The more honest and open relationships are the more interesting and enjoyable they are

  • The most interesting thing you can say is also the most honest

Here’s my method (yours will be different):

  • My Twitter is mostly just a public journal

  • I apply what I know about evolutionary psychology to social media so that I better understand how we use this form of communication

  • When I come across a new idea that resonates with me, I apply it to my own life (then I synthesize it and tweet it)

  • I only mind posting content that I’m not proud of

  • My favorite tweets are the ones that make me go “damn, why didn’t I think of that?”

Reflections on stealing ideas…

  • There’s no such thing as an original idea

  • Everyone steals ideas. I just admit it

  • All my best work is stolen

  • Don’t copy style (find your own voice)

  • Someone might be able to steal your ideas (but they will never be able to steal your ability to come up with ideas)

Life advice for myself disguised as marketing advice for others…

  • No one is thinking about you as much as you think they are

  • Be generous and give others the benefit of the doubt

  • Life is a lot more fun when you don’t take it personally

  • Laugh at yourself before anyone else can

  • Just because life is complicated doesn’t mean you should complicate it

  • Develop your ability to deal with uncertainty

  • Don’t pay too much attention to the critics

  • Do something that is really difficult that really scares you

  • Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing

  • Nothing sparks creative inspiration quite like a long walk

  • Don’t ask if it will make you happy today, ask if it will make you happy tomorrow

  • If there is nothing you can do to fix a situation, complaining about it only makes it worse

  • Appreciate the simple pleasures of life

In general..

  • If you never ask, the answer is always “no”

  • If people do it in real life, they will probably use social media to do it

  • If you want someone to date you, first become someone worth dating

  • If you want people to follow you, you better have something to say

  • If you currently have your health, financial stability, and people who love you, don’t take it for granted

In sum…

  • If social media feels like work, you’re doing it wrong

  • Pour yourself a drink

  • Have some Chipotle


PART TWO: COMPARING SOCIAL NETWORKS


The reason why Instagram has more users than Twitter

It’s easier to post a photo than an idea


Instagram is the party with all the pretty people

Twitter is the party with all the interesting people


People who look like models have an advantage on Instagram the same way people who are witty writers have an advantage on Twitter


It takes different skills to be good at Twitter than it does to be good at TikTok than it does to be good at IG than it does to be good at YouTube than it does to be good at LinkedIn than it does to be good at Snapchat

(This is what makes mastering social media so difficult)

A Twitter influencer is someone you aspire to think like 

An Instagram influencer is someone you aspire to be like


Twitter is better at making you think

Instagram is better at making you feel


Twitter:

  • Keep up to date with information 

Snapchat

  • Keep up to date your friends

Instagram:

  • Keep up to date with trends

YouTube:

  • Keep up to date with your interests

Facebook

  • Keep up to date with your groups

LinkedIn

  • Keep up to date with your resume


Twitter:

  • Follow interesting people 

Facebook

  • Follow your family

YouTube:

  • Follow entertainers 

Snapchat

  • Follow your friends

Instagram:

  • Follow beauty

LinkedIn

  • Follow your coworkers 

TikTok

  • Doesn’t matter who you follow


The fastest way to become popular on Instagram is to hang out with people who are popular on Instagram


Twitter: Synthesized ideas

Instagram: Aesthetic beauty

Pinterest: Discover inspiration

YouTube: Endless entertainment

TikTok: Clever irreverence

Snapchat: Unfiltered friendship

LinkedIn: Professional connections

Facebook: Click here


PART THREE: SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS


Cheatsheet for writing better tweets:

  • One idea per tweet

  • Write for clarity first

  • Write for wit second 

  • Delete superfluous words

  • Use analogies when possible

  • Bad formatting can ruin a great tweet


Process for writing tweets:

  • First, write the tweet

  • Then play with the order: take the last line and make it the first line; take the beginning of a sentence and move it to the end

  • Delete superfluous words

  • Read it for clarity

  • Then read it again for art

  • Finally, post it


Making tweets easier to read: 

  • One comma maximum per sentence 

  • Use lists over sentences when possible 

  • Never use a period if your tweet is only one sentence (or if it’s part of a list)


Grow your social media following:

  • Decide why people should follow you

  • Create content in support of your why

  • Refuse to post content that does not support your why

  • Consistently post that content

  • Post more of what resonates, less of what doesn’t


I won't lie, this one took a while!

If you enjoyed it, please do share the Twitter thread.

And if you'd like more Big Idea Summaries like this please do join the email list.

And follow me on Twitter! 

Sincerely, 

Justin