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The First Tweets of 16 B2B Brands (and a Few Familiar Faces)

What was your first tweet?

As Twitter began trading on the New York Stock Exchange last week, I couldn’t help but consider how far this small, simple, fledgling network has come. Once mocked for being stupid and insipid, and plagued by its own persistent identity crisis, Twitter has nonetheless become a prominent and important part of our culture.

I just find to use another word other than “part” to describe Twitter in that last sentence. Because what is Twitter, exactly? Is it a news network? A social platform that connects us to friends, brands, celebrities? A discussion forum? I guess the answer is Yes.

(That’s the thing: What’s dumb-brilliant about Twitter is that it defies categorization. What is Twitter? It’s what you think it is.)

Twitter was founded in March of 2006. I started on Twitter in September 2007, when Jeremiah Owyang suggested that I should represent MarketingProfs there. (Eventually, I would also start tweeting from @annhandley.)

That was 200,000 followers and 40,000 tweets ago. Twitter’s IPO made me wonder what my first tweet was on my MarketingProfs handle, and here it is:

AdAge wondered the same thing about some large consumer brands, and last week it published the first tweets of the likes of Coke, Nike, Xbox, and the like.

But what about the business-to-business space? Let’s take a look back at the first tweets of some of most successful B2B brands on Twitter (according to a recent analysis by Leadtail and DNN Software as published on MarketingProfs) as well as some others I was curious about.

Some observations to consider, as you check out these early tweets:

Most companies were clearly completely devoid of a content or social media strategy. There’s a definite “Is this thing on?” awkward quality to the tweets – a kind of virtual throat-clearing while these companies figured out what the heck to do with this new platform. (And the terminology: Are we friending? Following? Or what?)

Broadcast trumped conversation on Twitter. Most of the brand’s first tweets read as 140-character press releases. Even @marketingprofs, I dedicated most of my tweets the first few months to simply shilling our content. (Almost every tweet started with “New post: …..”) Most tellingly, I didn’t even put my face on the account until a year or so in. Prior to that, I tweeted with the MarketingProfs bird logo.

There’s not a single hashtag in sight. That would come later, as Buffer points out.

There’s not much humor or any human touch to it, either. Most of us eventually figured out that Twitter could be a great listening and engagement tool, as well as a way to highlight personality and a brand’s humanity. But again, that would come later. These early tweets have a definitely standoff-nish to them. (Although it’s funny how Oracle uses the first-personn when it says, “…add me,”) a rare use of “me” from a brand that like most uses “us” and “we” today.)

And finally, here are the first tweets of some familiar faces. Some of which are particularly awesome. (Laura Fitton, I’m looking at you. Because Laura eventually would write a book about and found a business around Twitter.)

I wasn’t kidding when I said Twitter has come a long way, indeed! And so, of course, have all of us.

So what was your first tweet?

You can unearth your own (or others, as I did here) by going to Topsy.com. In the Search box, enter “from:username” and filter for “All Time” (on the left navigation list) and “Oldest” (in the top drop-down box).

Go! And add it in the comments below.

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46 Responses to The First Tweets of 16 B2B Brands (and a Few Familiar Faces)

  1. Ha! How revealing first tweets can be! Sort of like looking at your 1st grade picture. Here’s mine (on 14 May 2009):

    “Attending a social media marketing seminar and Twitter is being explained, but I still have a lot to learn.”

    https://twitter.com/DouglasBurdett/status/1796681487

  2. Tim Washer says:

    Ha! what a fun walk into history. I remember my two buddies at IBM bugging me about getting on Twitter, and it just didn’t make sense to me. After I finally got on board, we ended up using DMs more often than our internal tools (e.g. Lotus) to communicate. Thanks for the creative post, Ann.

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thanks, Tim. I remember being terrified of Twitter: What could I possibly have to say there? So I just started tweeting headlines (broadcasting). It was months before I used the word “I.”

      • Doug Kessler says:

        Tim, did you hit ‘return’ by accident in your first tweet?

        Mine was political — thinking this Obama guy just might be credible (but not letting myself believe yet).

        You should see my first blog post! Talk about clueless…

  3. Love this post! Very timely and also good for brands looking to put a toe in the water. I thinks it’s easy to feel like everyone’s an expert already but everyone feels it out a bit at first. FWIW – my first tweet = (@NickWestergaard) “feels like playing hooky”

    • Ann Handley says:

      Exactly, Nick! I worried that brands/people here would think I was mocking their early efforts… but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We all started somewhere — and it’s interesting to me to see how people and brands have evolved.

  4. Joe Pulizzi says:

    All I can say is – Wow. Seems like 100 years ago.

  5. Jay Baer says:

    Seems so long ago, but really wasn’t you know? Jellybeans, FTW!

  6. Tinu Abayomi-Paul says:

    This is Delightful.

  7. Lea Hensel says:

    Great post! I had just browsed through AdAge’s post when I saw this!

    My first tweet – March 11, 2009 – “Curiosity lead to my breakdown to finally join the Twitter world…”

  8. Salma Jafri says:

    Gosh this is priceless Ann. I laughed my way through this list and you’re right, we all started somewhere – overnight successes are so over rated :) My first tweet was “setting up an account on twit-ah” and I remember I signed up after reading a Copyblogger article about how twitter could make you a better writer. Brevity FTW!

    • Ann Handley says:

      I think I read that same article, Salma.

      The other funny thing was that even though I joined in 2007, I abandoned it soon after for about 6 months, before circling back. I had no idea what to do there, really. It seemed pointless. :)

  9. Jeff Cohen says:

    Mine was “Finally getting a twitter account” (https://twitter.com/jeffreylcohen/status/367324702) in October 2007, because I struggled with a username for months. Anonymous still ruled the day and I was trying to use my old blog name (Digital Papercuts), which was too long. On this day, I settled on @dgtlpapercuts. Because I changed my Twitter ID to my proper name account in December 2009, the old Tweets show that they were posted from my current name.

    About 12 hours later I posted, “Wondering how much I’ll use twitter.”

    • Ann Handley says:

      That’s funny Jeff. I remember the trend to NOT use real name. I think that’s how I ended up @marketingprofs. It seemed to make more sense… because what did @annhandley have to talk about?

  10. Pingback: The First Tweets of 16 B2B Brands | internet ma...

  11. Carmen Hill says:

    “Researching Twitter.” June 4, 2008 < Yikes. So boring! (But it got better.)
    https://twitter.com/carmenhill/status/827185819

  12. Martin says:

    Fun post! Yup, we’ve all come a long way since our first tweets. In mine, I quoted Admiral James Stockdale … https://twitter.com/martinlieberman/status/5109745975
    Suffice it to say, in some ways, I’m still searching. :-)

  13. Mack Collier says:

    Love how we all answered the ‘What Are You Doing?’ question :)

  14. Dave Cutler says:

    Great idea for a post, Ann. That was a fun look back. I was intrigued to discover that my 1st dozen tweets were all @Replies (I think I was afraid I didn’t have anything to contribute) but I’m also sure the 1st would have been more of the “I’m here!” variety had I not lurked for my first 6 months on Twitter.

    Interesting to note that despite being lauded for conquering the interwebz with their real-time Super Bowl tweet, @Oreo had a rather inauspicious beginning, just like the rest of us: https://twitter.com/oreo/status/20149501858

    • Ann Handley says:

      Whoa. That’s amazing, Dave. Nice find. Every brand manager who still feels overwhelmed and lost on social media should print Oreo tweet out and hang it above their desks, as a reminder that even the great have humble beginnings.

  15. Lisa Gerber says:

    DJ’s especially made me laugh out loud.
    My first tweet was in 2008 and…. “Desk work until I can go play outside.”

    Figures.

  16. Mine apparently was: “Don’t know why I’m signing up for this. Barely have time to breath. Much less tell the whole world what i’m doing every waking moment.”

    How little did I know that tweeting would actually become ingrained in nearly every waking moment of the next seven years. :-)

    My 2nd tweet was the more predictable “Hello.” It appears to come from SMS, while the first was web, so I guess I was just testing the two ways we had back then to tweet.

  17. From March 13, 2009: “tony faustino signed up for twitter, invited a bunch of friends, and is sending out his first tweet”

    Ann, I look at that tweet & can’t help but #Cringe #ThinkLame #Laugh

  18. Tom Gerace says:

    This is as bad as finding a box of awkward high school photos. Ha! Thanks Ann.

  19. Mack Collier has the key point in the comments — the Twitter prompt used to be “What are you doing”, and I’m pretty sure Brian Solis was the first person I saw who pointed out that it’s a stupid question: http://www.briansolis.com/2009/11/on-twitter-what-are-you-doing-is-the-wrong-question/

    They later changed it to “What’s happening,” which is slightly better I suppose; now of course it says “Compose new Tweet”. I say “of course”, but I had to look it up :)

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  21. Sunita C Bhagatjee says:

    Thanks Ann for sharung this. I was able to see my own first tweet on Topsy!
    I started three years back and am still loving twitter!

  22. Funny how twitter evolve from the hashtag-less post to twitter pics that makes the said social media network more interesting today.

  23. Pingback: The First Tweets of 16 B2B Brands – Ann Handley | Zoovenda

  24. Doug Cohen says:

    Love this….

    My first personal tweet (@dougcohen10 – https://twitter.com/dougcohen10/status/1186361351): Doug is listening to In Absentia by Porcupine Tree – what an amazing album. If you don’t own it – GET IT and let it grow…

    First tweet for our studio (tweeted by my wife Ally) – Oy vey… (@frameablefaces – https://twitter.com/FrameableFaces/status/1279456066): I’m editing product sheets and final images! Can’t wait to be finished! Then off to select new images to showcase in the studio. Woo Hoo!

  25. From May 18, 2008:

    “I’ve now officially set up an Aquent-specific Twitter stream. Boy howdy! I’m wondering what web designers REALLY want.”

    https://twitter.com/MattTGrant/status/811148265

  26. Kirsten says:

    kirsteno @kirsteno
    Thanking Michael Arrington for his DuelAdapter reco. Finally can use my TMobile PCMCIA Card with my new computer ExpressCard slot.
    8:24 AM Mar 30th, 2008

    Amazing how much technology has changed.

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  28. The @siriusdecisions tweet would have been me since I was the only one tweeting from that account until a few years ago.

    The first from my own @jblock account: “Going to take a walk in the unseasonably warm.” Jan. 9, 2008

  29. Brad Hines says:

    Fun post Ann! IT took me awhile to find my first tweet, as Twitter seems to only lend out the ability to go back 3500 in their API to all those “first tweet apps”. I actually ended up getting it from Twitter > Settings > Archive.

    Brad
    http://www.bradfordhines.com

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