You may think Barack Obama was the first U.S. president to tweet, but John Quincy Adams has him beat by 200 years.
This week, President Adams started tweeting from beyond the grave.
Tweeting from the other side
It turns out that our sixth president kept multiple diaries throughout his life. One volume was reserved for one-line journal entries — all of which just so happen to be 140 characters or less.
President Adams kept this one-liner log of his life from 1795 to 1801. After an eight-year gap he restarted his entries to chronicle his trip to Russia on August 5, 1809. And so, exactly 200 years later, The Massachusetts Historical Society began a day-by-day re-tweeting of his life with President Adams’ first public tweet:
Sailed in Ship Horace, Benjamin Beckford, from Charlestown to St. Petersburg.
Every day, the former President will tweet from his diary. Today, from August 6, 2009:
Thick fog. Scanty Wind – On George’s Bank. Lat: 42-34. Read Massillon’s Carême Sermons 2 & 3. Ladies &c. Sick.
Drawing from their audience feedback
The directors of the Massachusetts Historical Society came up with the idea after a student on a field trip remarked that it was as if the former President was tweeting. Light dawned, and the historical society realized Twitter would be the perfect distribution platform to further their mission of educating people about the life of this former president.
On day one, John Quincy Adams had over 4,200 followers. That’s a far cry from the 15-20 daily visitors who go the historical society’s reading room in downtown Boston, where the actual diaries are kept. So with thousands of new followers, leveraging Twitter for this purpose is already a huge win.
The marketing moral? Don’t just run out and start tweeting about your company. Use the right platform for the right type of content. The Quincy diary and Twitter are a perfect match. And that is the reason for the thousands of interested followers. In this case, the medium is truly the message.
If John Quincy Adams, with only a quill pen, can write quality content for Twitter, you can too.
My question to you
If people like President Adams found value in short, 140-character communications 200 years ago, why is there a Twitter backlash today?