Dev lab news: Hunting or gathering an audience?

February 23, 2021 · 4 minutes reading time

Transcript of episode 10

Today, I’ll try an entirely new format: the development lab news! This is news directly from my desk where I develop GetTheAudience.

Recently, I thought a lot about how you audience explorers could find an arbitrary audience – not your own, not your competitor’s, but an arbitrary audience that is interesting to you.

I often tried to find audiences using Twitter search. And Twitter search has a disadvantage: it comes up with all kinds of irrelevant results that have nothing to do with what I’m searching for. So I thought: there must be a better way.

The situation reminded me of the old dichotomy between hunters and gatherers.

90% of our human history, we spent in a hunter-gatherer society, starting from about 1.8 million years ago until about 11,000 years ago. So that’s really most of our history.

We were hunters and gatherers:

  • Hunters prepared themselves and went after the prey they wanted to bring home as food for their families.
  • The gatherers, usually the women, spent time out in nature, gathering precious plants that they could eat as well.

The behaviour of the hunters differed from the behaviour of the gatherers: The hunters were very much focused on their target whereas the gatherers looked around: “What can I find here? Oh, this is interesting, yeah, I like that, I take this! And where was that? Yes, that was some hundred meters away from here… Yeah, there it is again…”, so they were much less focused on the target but they were more focused on serendipity and luck.

There is this quote, it is attributed to the Roman stoic philosopher Seneca (although it seems that he has never said it). It goes like this:

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.

This is a point, right? You will be lucky when you prepare and when the opportunity comes, at the same time!

So I thought: this must be something for Twitter search as well, right? I could prepare… and when I meet someone on Twitter, or I see an interesting tweet on Twitter, I could save that into an audience.

However, this would be a tedious manual process! What about automating this?

So I created a browser extension (at the moment for the Firefox browser) that automatically watches what I’m doing on Twitter.

Every time I click on a tweet and every time I click on a Twitter account, it records this event in GetTheAudience and puts it into a big history list.

What I’m trying to build now is: I can go into GetTheAudience, get that list again, (i.e. my Twitter history or “Twistory” as I would call it).

And from each entry in that history, (for example, from an interesting tweet or from an interesting account) I will be able to create another audience! And then, with this audience, I can go into the usual audience explorer function:

  • exploring the people
  • exploring the keywords
  • and exploring the tweet time.

So I think this would be the preparation component. And the luck and serendipity component would be when I find something interesting in Twitter!

So let’s see how that goes: The browser extension is already working, the backend is already storing the “Twistory”.

And now I’m going to build the UI (user interface) that can display this and the function that can create an audience from one entry in the Twitter history!

Stay tuned! And I hope you will be one of the first people who will test this. See you then!

Edit: Get The Audience companion is now officially available for install in the Chrome store and on Mozilla add-ons.

P.S.: After recording the podcast episode, I looked up what Seneca really wrote (in fact, he was citing Demetrius, the cynic):

The best wrestler, he would say, is not he who has learned thoroughly all the tricks and twists of the art, which are seldom met with in actual wrestling, but he who has well and carefully trained himself in one or two of them, and watches keenly for an opportunity of practising them. — Seneca, On Benefits, vii. 1

To me, this applies to audience development, too, doesn’t it? :-)


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