Yesterday, shortly before 10 pm, I opened Twitter on my smartphone, as I have on innumerable occasions during the day.
On the screen, aside from the usual sections, was a discrete banner across the top calling attention to a soccer match underway at that moment during the World Cup in Brazil, between France and Switzerland, with both countries’ flags clearly visible. With a click I was taken to the screen shown on the left with the result of the game in real time, and a selection of tweets about the game, along with photos.
I am used to following events as they unfold on Twitter, but this level of sophistication surprised even me. The World Cup in Brazil is becoming an important testing ground for social media of all kinds, and Twitter had already said that it intended to undertake a number of experiments, that would include special hashtags with the flags of participating teams, popularity rankings, official accounts, etc. But adapting a search to supply a result in real time is a step further: it means appointing an editor to follow an even and to provide information to be able to follow it, something that until this moment I had never seen Twitter do in such a direct manner.
Few people would now dispute that Twitter has become the planet’s heartbeat: on April 23 of last year, a simple tweet by the Syrian Electronic Army through a hacked Associated Press Account sent the Dow Jones plummeting by 145 points for two very long minutes.
Twitter works hard in marketing related to events that are watched by millions of people. The Billboard Music Awards, the NBA final, the Roland Garros, the Stanley Cup… These types of events are a way for Twitter to supply advertisers with huge audiences in a market that has traditionally been divided on the basis of broadcasting rights within geographic areas, but that Twitter is now able to offer in a single timeline for the entire planet, aware of everything that is being said and that is happening at the event or whatever is garnering the world’s attention at a given moment.
Brands are increasingly organizing themselves in war rooms, centers filled with screens, that on the one hand are looking at Twitter analytics, tweets, and trends that are generating the most attention at any given moment, while at the same time, groups of copywriters and legal advisers are huddled together working out messages and sponsorship deals to connect these vast audiences with their brand. As Twitter comes up with editorial and analytics tools, the opportunities to associate content with specialist advertising formats increases, and are associated with an advertising format that is not particularly intrusive, to messages that are an inseparable part of the context around them. The right kind of tweet linking a brand with something specific that is happening or with one of the people taking part in that event can reach millions of people and connect millions of followers, as well as making the brand seem fresh and vital.
Moving into editorial content is an intelligent way for Twitter to take advantage of its position and become the place people go to find out what is happening in the world: knowing what is going on is no longer solely about following the right accounts, but simply about being signed up to Twitter, without even having to check trending topics that in many cases no longer reflect any real popularity, but are simply a measure of the organizing ability of groups interested in a specific issue.
If Twitter is able to become a one-stop-shop for brands interested in marketing specific events, it will have conquered a very interesting niche market. And for many of its users, who are beginning to see that following an event without having Twitter open isn’t the same, it will provide an interesting value addition to the service and a change in the service it provides.
(En español, aquí)