Why Subtweetcat is better at marketing than most brands

It’s time to take a little break from retail emails. I wanted to write about a new newsletter I’ve recently started receiving. It’s so much more than a newsletter – I don’t even know where to begin.

Her name is Subtweetcat. She lives on Twitter. She is a cat who subtweets. She’s surprisingly good at social media – for a cat. My first introduction to Subtweetcat was about a year ago. She started following me on Twitter (THAT’S RIGHT, CAT. YOU FOLLOWED ME FIRST. DEAL WITH IT.), likely because of where I worked at the time. Subtweetcat is a social media genius. She has a very distinct brand voice, and she’s written an ebook about social media. 

Subtweetcat is one of the weirdest Twitter accounts I’ve ever seen. She’ll subtweet people all day long. She has managed to build a very engaged online community via Twitter, which few brands have done successfully. And she’s a CAT.

Here’s why she’s better at marketing than most brands:

1. Strong brand voice: Her voice is funny, and it’s consistent. Lots of CAPS LOCK. Lots of run-on sentences. (She is a cat after all – they don’t allow cats in most American schools). I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she has some kind of formal style guide. She sticks to her “I’m a cat” persona, and even posts selfies (of cats). While her voice obviously wouldn’t work for every brand – it works amazingly well for her.

Her followers know specific things about her: She’s a lesbian. She hates Chipotle. She likes sushi and pizza. She doesn’t like Kale. She loves Warby Parker (more than Just Salad – right, CAT?). She’s a cat. She’s, um, really into 420. She has a questionable relationship with the Poncho app. The thing is – it doesn’t even matter what’s in her brand bible. Her fans know all these things about her. And they actively interact with her about all of her interests. Every post she makes gets tons of faves, retweets, and replies. Every single one. And the really amazing part – her fans just get it. They play along, and even speak to her in her brand voice. And she rewards them with faves and retweets.

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2. Social Media Engagement: On that note – she has a serious cult following. She’s on Twitter pretty much all day. I honestly don’t even know if she ever does anything else. Her fans tweet things that they think she would like, and she often retweets or faves them within seconds. (At least, that happens with MY tweets, but I’m probably her most important follower.) This makes her fans feel special, and they keep coming back. Or they spend $10 on a 15 page ebook.

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Ahem. But anyway. 

3. Consistent messaging: An important aspect of marketing is consistent messaging. While Subtweetcat is pretty much on Twitter all day, a few things are certain: At 11:11 AM and PM, she’ll tweet “11:11 HUG A CAT.” At 4:20 PM, there will be a stream of tweets about pot. Sometime around midnight, she’ll tweet “GO TO BED.” Her fans have come to expect all this, and again – they play along. If she misses an 11:11, tons of people tweet at her about it. While 11:11 and 4:20 probably aren’t right for every brand, Subtweetcat’s consistent messaging and timing have given her followers expectations, and they look forward to these times to see what she’s going to do. How many other brands have something like that?

She also does this great thing when other brands mess up on social media. She’ll repeatedly tweet at them “Hire me to do your social media.” (Although, when US Airways had that incident with the pornographic picture on Twitter, she re-posted it so many times that I had to stay off Twitter for the rest of the workday. So thanks for that, CAT). At the end of her ebook, she included a hashtag about hiring her to do your social media, and it kind of became this whole big thing. It doesn’t stop there. She will make photoshopped images of a cat using the brand’s products. Or she’ll tweet the link to her ebook to a brand suggesting that they buy it. And then Subtweetcat’s cult will chime in, most likely amplifying whatever mistake the brand made, and showing their support for their favorite internet cat. But she doesn’t just interact with brands that make mistakes. She’s built relationships with several brands. The smart brands tweet back at her and become her friend.

Last week, she announced that she was going to start sending an email newsletter. So naturally, this tweet had to happen:


But it turns out – she doesn’t even need me. Her emails are perfectly on brand for her, and an on point extension of her Twitter persona. She encourages her subscribers to submit cat pictures for the newsletter via a hashtag. This gets people to 1) Generate her content for her and 2) Open the newsletter every day to see if their content got in. Brilliant. She’ll also post 5 tweets of the day, so again – everyone’s reading and clicking to see if they made it in the newsletter.

Once you sign up (here. It’s worth it.), this is the confirmation page:

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She sends them at 11:11 every (weekday) morning, and the content and format are very consistent. And since she already built up an incredibly engaged audience via social media, my guess is that she has extremely high open and click rates.

The overarching lesson here is that good marketing is good marketing, no matter WHAT you’re marketing. If you’re doing it right, you can market just about anything.

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And now a break from email to talk about Twitter (and Weezer)

I’ve been on Twitter since election night 2008. I wasn’t the earliest adopter by any means, but it has consistently been my favorite social network. It’s where I get most of my news, and I’ve made some friends on Twitter who became “real-life friends.” In short, I’m a huge fan of Twitter.

When I was in high school, I was pretty awkward and quiet. (Still am.) And not in the way that someone like Taylor Swift says she’s awkward and quiet – I actually was (…am). Especially my junior year. My family had just moved to another state, and I didn’t know anyone at my school. Since I didn’t dare actually approach people who I thought would be interesting, I took a more subtle method of making friends: I wore Weezer shirts almost every day. I had four of them. (On the fifth day of the school week, I alternated between Dashboard Confessional and Emily). It’s a known fact that people who like Weezer (or at least, people who liked Weezer circa 1999-2006) are generally really awesome. Chances are, they’ll like other similar bands, and their common interests expand beyond that into books and TV shows as well. I had been to a few concerts, and had confirmed that these were my people. So my logic was pretty sound for a 17 year old, even though I was that weird kid who only seemed to have 5 shirts (and one pair of beat-up Chuck Taylors with a =W= drawn on the toes). I eventually met the three other people in my school who had good taste in music, and even ended up dating one of them. But that wasn’t enough of an outlet for me. So I turned to the internet.

This was before Facebook, Myspace, and most other social media. We had Livejournal. We had AIM.  And we had forums. I wanted to meet more =W= army members like me, so I found the official Weezer forums. And they were fun. I made anonymous online friends in a way that’s comparable to what happens on Twitter today. We talked about the band, analyzed cryptic lyrics, and compared setlists from shows. But there was another board as part of this forum – AllThingsNotWeezer. Here, people talked about everything. And it proved my theory was right: these people were cool, and I wanted to be friends with them.

Then, the band’s label (or Karl. I don’t know…) changed the format of their forums on their site. In recent years, we’ve all seen how people react when any popular site makes a change that affects usability (hint: they don’t like it). This amazing online place had become something different, something unwanted. There wasn’t a place to talk about what we wanted to talk about. There were new moderators who kept trying to bring the conversation back to the band. The old forums had been hosted by a certain company (I don’t remember which one. It’s not important). We didn’t have anywhere else online to unite against this. We couldn’t complain about it on a Facebook group or with a Twitter hashtag – they didn’t exist.

So something incredible happened. One of the (original) moderators did some digging online and found out the company that had hosted our old forums. Then they found out some other sites that used that same company. With one post on the old (newly-awful) forums, we were given our marching orders, and we were forceful.

We invaded the Vanessa Carlton forums.

(Remember her? She sang that “A Thousand Miles” song that had a lot of piano in it in 2001. Incidentally, her forums were less active than ours, despite her constant radio airplay from 2001-2002.) None of us really liked or disliked Vanessa Carlton. We just wanted her forums. So we all just started and continued our Weezer (and not Weezer) conversations in their space. Her fans didn’t know what hit them. They were (rightfully) totally confused about this sudden massive influx of hundreds of new members, and they didn’t want us there. But there were more of us, and we held our ground. Even though our own social network had failed us, we persevered, and we got what we wanted. There was a fuzzy time for a few years (I don’t remember what we did, but we didn’t stay on the Vanessa boards for more than a year or so). Eventually, a moderator created new boards for us, and that’s where the REAL fans existed. I was involved with Weezer Nation forums well throughout college (yes, even after Facebook started). That was the first time I experienced the true power of online community, of people taking a stand against changes a site made so that they could interact with each other in the way they wanted to.

Today, I went to an email conference. I didn’t have a computer with me, so I was on my phone all day. Tweeting tidbits from speakers (as marketers do…) all day long. I spent a lot of time switching between my personal Twitter handle and @EmailSnarketing handle. On my phone, that meant logging out of the app and then logging back in. A lot. All day long. And if you’ve done this in the past day, I bet you know what I’m about to complain about: Twitter seems to keep forgetting who I am. It’s asking me if I want “More World Cup Excitement?!?!” (nope.)  The “no” option says “No, just get me started on Twitter.”


Then it asked me to write my profile (which, you know, is already written). THEN they have the audacity to try to make me automatically follow 20 people who will be tweeting about the World Cup.


(Whew, there’s a skip  button here. Okay, Click.)

Then it tries to import my contacts from my email/phone. NO. (But oh, hey, my stepsister’s on Twitter now…And so are a bunch of people I already unfollowed 4 years ago because they never tweeted.) SKIP.

THEN it finally gets me into the normal app. I could almost understand it if this happened once for everyone while Twitter tries out a new marketing technique (you know, annoying and confusing people into doing what you want them to do.). But I have a feeling it’ll continue through the entire World Cup. And I have absolutely no idea how long that is. Is it a weekend? A month? Couldn’t tell you. I’m not following the World Cup on Twitter, after all. And if it goes well for Twitter, I’m sure they’ll do this for other things.

And as much as I love Twitter, it makes me want to gather my tribe of followers and people I follow, and find a social network that is the Vanessa Carlton to Twitter’s Weezer.

….See you on Google Plus.

(Also – Happy Birthday, Rivers).