Harnessing Complexity

Suited for real-time.
Twitter’s importance in Cannes continued on Wednesday as CEO Dick Costolo presented a seminar called, “Harnessing the Power of Real-time Connections.” During his talk, Mr. Costolo reportedly presented examples and advice on how to turn cultural events into real-time marketing opportunities.
“We live in a world where the conversation—if we pay attention to it—can lead to a campaign.”
Dick Costolo- Cannes Lions, 20 June 2012
The recent introduction of hashtag pages gives brands, marketers, and event organizers a consolidated presence within the Twitter framework to promote a real-time discussion. They also give Twitter a potentially huge new source of income. But is this the Holy Grail of revenue that Twitter critics have been looking for? Maybe. And here’s why.

The new Web product enables a lot. For Twitter, these new pages provide a way to create a community, within its own domain, to anyone with a marketing budget. For promoters, the pages offer another outlet to create and craft a consolidated conversation. And for users, this new endeavor offers the opportunity for a meaningful tête-à-tête with the accounts and interests they track.

Let’s take the highly-touted NASCAR partnership as an example. Searching for #NASCAR leads you to a branded, and presumably purchased, page of results which features updates from a select group of accounts. Twelve of these accounts are highlighted in a “Top people” section, but updates from all other accounts are quickly accessible through the “View all Tweets” link. 

This is a great way for Twitter to curate posts from some driver, track, and sanctioning body accounts. And even if you’re trying to find out what other people are saying about NASCAR, this is much less intrusive than most pop-up ads, and presents contextually relevant content based on the NASCAR search term. However, it does leave me asking a few questions:
  • Which accounts get included in the results?
  • How did they get selected?
  • Did they pay to get included?
  • How can I get my updates include in the search results?
  • What about the accounts I follow?

This effort could be the first, big step toward a fast, flexible advertising product. Marketers could customize which accounts and topics are included in ad buys as circumstances change. Real-time adjustments would allow conversations to emerge and evolve naturally while still supplying campaigns the ability to promote their ideas.

Now, making sure you have a team in place that can accurately and adequately monitor and react to an ongoing event can be tricky. Just ask McDonalds. Or Kenneth Cole. Or Netflix. But that is a larger topic for a longer day. Like tomorrow, the longest day of the year. Find out if I tackle it when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox