Today is day 1️⃣5️⃣ of my 30 day writing challenge...50% done :)
In case you missed yesterday's post, I found some fun examples of founders that have built multi-billion dollar businesses that were inspired to start their companies because of a book they read!
Check out the full post here: "Picture your book inspiring the next big thing".
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In today's post, I do an analysis on one of the fastest growing creators on Twitter: "The Cultural Tutor".
The account started in May of 2022, and in just one year has grown to 1.4 million followers! I've been reading the content since last summer and was immediately hooked to the quality and style of their writing. In parallel, The Cultural Tutor has a newsletter called "Aeropagus" that now has over 75,000 subscribers and has published a book: An Introduction to Western Civilization.
The coolest part about this account is that it is run completely pseudonymously. No one knows if it's a single author or a team. No one knows the background of the author and what education they have completed. No one knows what part of the world they live in. And no one knows what their political beliefs are. The Cultural Tutor simply educates people on topics they are interested in and consistently puts out good stories.
To me, these kinds of creators truly embody the spirit of what it means to be curious, passionate, and excited students of the world. Authors such as The Cultural Tutor (TCT) look to highlight and expose the beauty of overlooked topics such as history and rhetoric in today's fast paced, corporate world. Yes - maybe learning about Shakespeare's insults or the history of fonts may not be directly applicable to most of our jobs or industries. But learning about these topics help us build out our mental toolkit. They can provide a fresh lens through which we better perceive and comprehend the world.
My key takeaway after writing this post is that everyone is a sucker for good storytelling. In fact, I would even say that in most cases the subject/topic is irrelevant. If a creator knows how to authentically tell a fun & insightful story, people will enjoy it.
First Impressions Matter
The reality is that today we are all inundated with content from all directions non-stop. Twitter, Instagram, streaming platforms, long form books, news notifications, Spotify, LinkedIn 🤮, etc. Honestly, this list could go on for a while but you get the point. It's an attention game.
We all have 24 hours. Of that, let's say 1/3rd is spent sleeping, 1/3rd is spent doing life stuff (chores, self-care, etc. And the last 1/3rd is spent doing work, learning, browsing, etc. Even if we're lenient, maybe the average person spends about 1 hour on different social media platforms per day. Of those few hours, there is again a split on all the different forms of content. So let's say that most people are active on 3 social media platforms. Then we can assume roughly 15-20 minutes on a single platform per day. Note: these are super rough calculations and I'm just using them to underscore the point below - don't get caught up in the math.
Okay with that being said, since most of us have very limited time to consume content, it's clear that if you are a creator and want to get people's attention, you simply have to make sure your content always makes a
good great first impression. When you go to the library or a bookstore, how many of the books you end up buying are because a single, random page was really good? If you're a normal person, then my guess is none. The truth is that we really do judge a book by it's cover. It's all we have time for in this content abundant era.
On Twitter, if you are writing threads, that means having an incredibly catchy and inviting hook. If not, people will simply not engage, click, and read. Even if your content is overall a solid 9/10 it won't matter. And that's what I think TCT does so freaking well. Almost all of this threads have banger hooks.
To learn more about what makes their hooks so great, I analyzed the first tweets of the top 25 threads. Here are the key takeaways:
Engaging the audience's curiosity: Each of these tweets starts with a question or a surprising fact that piques the reader's curiosity. There's a "mysterious" factor that lures the reader in.
Short, yet Provocative: "What the hell is so special about the Mona Lisa?" is such a strong attention-grabber. This style might not suit everyone or every topic, but it clearly works well in this context. Because honestly, 9/10 people probably don't actually know even though it's feels like such an obvious question.
Promising specific insights or lists: Many of these threads are the list kind. This implies a quick, organized read, which can be super appealing to people especially as attention spans are starting to get shorter and shorter (I blame the TikTok Subway Surfer trend for this haha).
'15 of the most beautiful short poems you (might) have never read',
'Here are 25 highly specific things...',
'One tweet biography of every English & British monarch since Alfred the Great in 886')
Relevance to current events or dates: Some hooks relate to the current date or a current event ('Michelangelo's David was unveiled on this day in 1504'). This adds a sense of fomo and relevance to the content.
Visual appeal: Every hook has an incredible image that really do a great job of attracting a reader's attention because of its beauty or simplicity.
No matter where you grew up, what you're interested in, and what your values are, there's a 100% chance you love a good story.
"We're humans - 'After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.'" - Philip Pullman
Good stories don't tell us facts, they give us a new way to think and provide us with a set of new questions to ponder. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to transfer ideas from people to people over any period of time.
Aside from the compelling hooks, The Cultural Tutor is also a fantastic storyteller. I read through about 10-15 of their threads and took notes on things I really liked and could be useful for my own writing.
The Right Setup Matters
Set the context & provide the relevant background information. The key is doing this succinctly. People are looking for the key people/things to know but don't deter too much from the main purpose of the story. For example, look at the amount of context provided so concisely in the first two tweets.
KISS - Keep it Simple Stupid
Even if you're trying to explain more niche topics, try to make the storyline simple and relatable to as many common examples as possible. Creators that can nail effective analogies tend to do a good job of simplifying complex topics. Make sure the topics are fun & engaging for your audience. Most people already have stressful lives, don't add to their problems. Think back to your favorite teacher in school or university, what did you like about them?
As a creator, it's critical to approach topics with humility and respect for your audience's existing knowledge - never underestimate their intelligence, but also strive to present information in an accessible way.
Connecting past and present
Try to use relevant examples in culture to help guide your point. This will help readers understand the story and provide a stronger "sell" as to why they should engage with your work. People like to stay informed and typically need help forming opinions on what's going on. Be there to provide them with that support. This doesn't have to be complicated or anything, it can even be as simple as explaining the history of Santa Claus during Christmas time or talking about Argentina's jersey during the world cup finals.
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