Learning about content marketing from Teddy Roosevelt

by Carl Natale on January 10, 2011

Becoming Teddy RooseveltI’m reading Becoming Teddy Roosevelt by Baxter State Park Ranger by Andrew Vietze. It’s a pretty good story about how Roosevelt became friends with Bill Sewall, a Maine woodsman and guide.

It’s an extremely well documented book. Roosevelt and Sewall were prolific letter writers and journal keepers. Thus there is a lot of content.

What I found really interesting was this image of Sewall’s journal. Holy Cow! No wonder he and so many other people of his day wrote journals. They only wrote a couple sentences a day.

Bill Sewall's journal

Bill Sewall's journal

Actually, he didn’t come anywhere close to 140 characters. Each day’s entry could have been a tweet or Facebook update.

Apparently Twitter wasn’t created for narcisistic teens. It was built for the rugged outdoorsmen of Maine’s frontier.

What does this mean? Two things come to mind.

Storytelling is hardwired in our brains

Human beings are natural storytellers. Facebook and Twitter – like the pre-formatted journal pages – are just tools that make it easier for us to do that.

Even blogging isn’t new. A blog is just a tool to publish our stories.

Since storytelling isn’t new, neither is listening. There always has been an audience looking for stories.

Sometimes 140 characters is all you need

Your stories don’t have to be epics. Sometimes you can make your point and advance your brand with just a handful of words.

Plus when you read about Sewall’s life, you have to wonder how he found time to write anything. (He ran a sporting camp, cut timber, managed a hotel, enforced customs law and read books.) Here’s something that hasn’t changed. You don’t have a lot of time either.

Of course sometimes you will need longer formats (Such as Sewall needed when he wrote letters). Writing long will be easier if you get into the habit of writing every day.

Establish the habit of writing short pieces and writing longer comes easier.

Bonus Takeaway: What would Teddy Roosevelt Blog?

I am convinced that Roosevelt would have loved blogging. Here’s why:

  • He was a prolific writer
  • He loved to pontificate
  • He was proud of his achievements
  • He wasn’t shy

Roosevelt was very media savvy. He would have recognized social media and blogging as great tools to tell his story.

His posts would have advanced his ideas on patriotism, government reform and conservation. Yes, conservation. Roosevelt loved shooting animals, but he understood the value of protecting our natural resources.

Last word

Don’t be afraid of writing. Take it 140 characters at a time. You don’t have to publish it. Just start with one private tweet each day. Then see where it takes you.

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