What the TV Commercials Tell Us About Twitter


Introduction

Twitter launched its first television commercials in conjunction with an event: The 2012 Pocono 400 NASCAR race. The commercials helped publicize the new hashtag pages from Twitter – they created a hashtag page for NASCAR that was promoted within the TV spots.

While I’m not a NASCAR fan, I had my TV tuned to TNT on Sunday afternoon, hoping to catch some of the commercials. Bad timing, combined with the shortness of the ads, prevented me from viewing them live. As a result, I went to YouTube to watch them there (the next day). Here’s one of the commercials:

So what do the commercials tell us about Twitter?

Core Value Proposition

Facebook and Google? They’re well understood by the average consumer. Twitter? Not so much. If you say “share what’s happening in 140 characters or less,” some people will “get it,” while others will get confused.

Judging by this first set of commercials, Twitter is defining its core value proposition around consumption, not sharing and publishing. In other words, you don’t have to tweet in order to find Twitter useful.

And it’s really a two-pronged value proposition:

  1. Consumption: for those who are inclined to “follow.”
  2. Sharing: for those who wish to stay connected with fans and followers.

On the consumption side, Twitter gives you behind the scenes access to your favorite celebrities, whether they’re athletes, actors, actresses, authors or politicians. Just look at the captions used in the six commercials – they’re all about receiving, rather than sharing:

  1. See what he sees.
  2. Follow them past the finish line.
  3. Where off the record is on the record.
  4. Get the POV from a VIP.
  5. What they see is what you get.
  6. See what else he writes.
  7. Put the pieces together.

Never before has the average consumer been able to connect (and even engage) so easily with celebrities. Now, you can journey inside a NASCAR racecar. And you can tweet to @justinbieber and get retweeted by him.

Striving for Mass Adoption, Part 1

Here was Google’s first foray into television commercials:

Notice the stark contrast? Google’s commercial was all about experiencing the product (Google searches), whereas Twitter’s commercials never showed the product (e.g. Twitter.com, Twitter desktop applications or Twitter mobile apps).

This relates directly to the core value proposition (above). The TV commercials show examples of how racing fans can become further engaged in following their sport. But it’s clearly a 50,000 foot view that doesn’t get into the mechanics of Twitter itself.

Twitter is clearly going after mass adoption – and that means our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. I expect subsequent ad campaigns that continue the story to demonstrate how users go about using the product.

Striving for Mass Adoption, Part 2

While this particular campaign targeted a precise audience (fans of NASCAR), it’s interesting that Twitter chose television advertising over online advertising. Television still works, it seems, in its ability to efficiently reach a broad audience at a moment in time (and of course, online afterwards, via YouTube).

I expect Twitter’s TV commercials to address a broader audience going forward. A Super Bowl ad in 2013, perhaps?

Twitter and Events: Perfect Together

Ever since Twitter launched, event professionals (and attendees) found a natural use of the service at events: quoting speakers, sharing insights, generating awareness and following the event’s hash tag. On the NASCAR hash tag page, you’ll see the following:

Next race: Quicken Loans 400, Sun 12pm ET on TNT

Twitter and NASCAR are clearly looking to the hash tag page as the online focal point to NASCAR’s ongoing events. In addition to NASCAR, Twitter has organized some activities around the NBA Finals. In a post titled “Courtside Tweets” on their blog, Twitter shares related hash tags and lists 13 athletes who will provide color commentary (via Twitter) during the Finals.

My expectation: Hash tag pages become available for all types of events, especially in B2B for trade shows, conferences, product launches and more. Before long, every B2B event may get its on hash tag page. And beyond that, I expect to see Twitter roll out additional products and services suited to events. After all, Twitter and events are perfect together.

Conclusion

So what to the TV commercials tell us about Twitter? They tell me that Twitter is focusing on mainstream adoption. On the one hand, they want the mainstream to understand what the service is all about. On the other hand, they’re sending a message to stars and celebrities to use Twitter to connect with fans (rather than a Facebook page, for instance).

And at the same time, they’re making it known to brands (including event brands) that these hashtag pages (with perhaps more products to come) are a great way to connect with your customers, fans and attendees.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

About these ads

2 Responses to What the TV Commercials Tell Us About Twitter

  1. Great insights, Dennis! Thanks for watching NASCAR (so I didn’t have to) and reporting back to us how Twitter is now being marketed. Greater consumption will be better for all of us who use Twitter on a regular basis now. :)

    • Dennis Shiao says:

      Jenise: thanks for the comment. I’m sure you’ve seen the TV spots by now, right? I’d love to know what you thought of them.

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