What opportunities do you think Twitter and other social networks offer to brand owners?
One of the misconceptions of Twitter that we’ve been working to correct is the idea that we’re a “social” as opposed to “information” network. There’s beginning to be some research confirming that view, but the basic difference is that Twitter is and has always been predominantly a place to reach as many people as possible with a message, as opposed to a place to connect with family and friends. Brands such as CNN or Starbucks can interact with customers directly on Twitter without the user having to figure out whether Starbucks is their “friend.”
What advice would you give to brand owners looking to capitalize on social media such as Twitter?
Real-time search is very different from intentions-based search. As we’ve seen with global events, product launches, customer-relationship services, movie premiers and local elections, people use Twitter search to discover real-time updates they can’t get anywhere else.
Twitter’s Promoted Tweets service attracted much recent attention. What response have you seen so far? Do you think this will be popular among brand owners/advertisers?
We’ve launched the first phase of our Promoted Tweets platform with a handful of innovative advertising partners that include Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks and Virgin America—with more to come.
So far, we’ve received positive feedback not only from our partner advertisers, but also from users. Since all Promoted Tweets are also organic Tweets, there is not a single “ad” in our Promoted Tweets platform that isn’t already an organic part of Twitter. This is distinct from both traditional search advertising and more recent social advertising.
Promoted Tweets are also timely. Like any other Tweet, the connection between a user and a Promoted Tweet in real time provides a powerful means of delivering information that is relevant at the moment.
There is also one big difference between a Promoted Tweet and a regular Tweet. Promoted Tweets must meet a higher bar—they must resonate with users. That means if users don’t interact with a Promoted Tweet to allow us to know that the Promoted Tweet is resonating with them, such as replying to it, favoriting it, or Retweeting it, the Promoted Tweet will disappear.
Have brand owners anything to fear from Promoted Tweets?
Even before we announced our Promoted Tweets program, we have enforced a trademark policy to protect brands, many of whom have already been using Twitter as a way to engage with their customers.
As we launch Promoted Tweets, we are enforcing rules that prohibit the misuse of trademarks by our advertisers and provide a process to resolve complaints by brand owners regardless of whether they are Twitter users. We will be closely following best practices as we develop robust policies to protect brands and the interests of our users.
Twitter is quite a big brand now. What concerns does the company have about protecting its own brand? What strategies does it use?
We’ve been very fortunate in the development of our brand and various marks. As with all brand owners, we have to balance “yes” with “no.” Also, like many brand owners, we encourage a wide range of brand usage by our users, third party developers and other partners and need to ensure that our licensing scales. If readers have licensing questions, they should check our Guidelines page. They also may be interested in our blog post on the subject.
What will be the challenges for brand owners in the future?
As companies become more conversational, so will brands. That’s not much of a challenge, but it is a huge opportunity.
Alexander MacGillivray joined Twitter in September 2009 after six and a half years years with Google. He attended the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, but before that he worked in technology as a “help desk jockey,” telecom and then web consultant. He then briefly worked as Chief Technology Officer at a start-up, before joining the law firm Wilson Sonsini.
On life at the company he says: “I love the people at Twitter, our culture, and the variety of work I get to do.” He advises Twitter on acquisitions, legal issues and public policy. He opened his own Twitter account (@macgill) in 2007.