What the TV Commercials Tell Us About Twitter

June 14, 2012


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.


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 .

5 Reasons I’m Breaking Up With You, TweetDeck

February 27, 2012


We’ve had a great time together, TweetDeck. And believe me, it’s not you, it’s me. Breaking up is hard to do, so I’ve decided to compose this posting to let you know. Yes, yes, that was quite impersonal of me. Let me explain why I feel the way I do.

1) Curbing Application Proliferation.

Despite the emergence of SaaS, we have more and more applications running on our desktop or laptop. If I could accomplish all of my Twitter activity within my browser, then you, unfortunately, are one less application I need to have running (I’m so sorry).

And I’ll tell you a dirty little secret about social streams: they consume lots of memory! My browsers tend to consume 250-700+ MB and you, while consuming less, still needed 100-200+ MB of tender loving RAM. With one less application, my computer is already running faster. Like I said, it’s me, not you.

2) The New @Connect Tab.

Yes, yes, it seems I’m already seeing other services. This one happens to be called Twitter.com. The New Twitter (or is it the “New New New Twitter”?) has a nifty “@Connect” tab. Under “Interactions,” it lists everything I want to know:

  1. Mentions.
  3. When someone “Favorites” my tweet.
  4. New followers.
  5. When someone adds me to their Twitter List.

You, TweetDeck, had columns available for mentions and new followers, but I’d often miss seeing retweets. And, to have this all in a single place is useful to me. So in this case, TweetDeck, I’m afraid it’s you and not me.

3) Twitter “Home” Got Better.

Yes, the new love of my life, Twitter.com, improved the “Home” tab. I remember the day I first laid eyes on you, TweetDeck. When I entered a URL, you’d auto-shorten it for me. And oh, did I love that. But this is now a standard feature on most tweet services, including Twitter.com.

In addition, I like glancing at the “Who to follow” area of “Home” and always seeing someone I recognize. I don’t mind the fact that it really should be “Whom to follow,” as I’m not a stickler or anything like that.

And finally, when my tweet stream is flying off the edge, I like how Twitter.com shows, “372 new Tweets” (or whatever the number is) and forces a click (from me) to display them. I think we were moving too fast together, TweetDeck, as your tweet stream would constantly flow.

4) Nifty new #Discover tab.

I like the nifty new #Discover tab on New Twitter. It’s rendered like a newspaper site, with key topics as headlines. I can follow a link and see tweets on the selected topic. And there’s always a single content piece (article) beneath the headline. So I can browse interesting articles, if I’m so inclined. My oh my, TweetDeck, I wonder if Twitter has crossed over from technology provider to media company?

5) But Wait.

But here’s the one thing Twitter.com cannot provide me. Your columns, TweetDeck. I could set up a number of columns for topics and hash tags and be able to glance at the related streams. I used to monitor mentions of my employer, along with the #eventprofs hash tag. On Twitter.com, I need to manually check those “feeds” from time to time.


Well, TweetDeck, you were certainly my first love. But you know what? Twitter acquired you in May 2011, so while I’m leaving you, I’m certainly staying in the same neighborhood. And I bet that your parent doesn’t mind that I’m now exclusively using Twitter.com. Take care and perhaps we’ll see each other again.


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