Surprising Twitter Stories Emerge At Conferences


twitter-new-logo-blueThe season of marketing conferences is upon us, which provides opportunities to discuss Twitter marketing with brand-side and agency marketers from near and far. It was at one such conference, the famous SxSW, that Twitter debuted back in 2007. Now that six years has gone by, was Twitter still the talk of the show in 2013?

Gemma Craven (@gemsie), the New York Group Director at Social@Ogilvy, suggested that with the recent launch of Twitter’s new advertising dashboard, advertising API, the collaboration with AMEX, direct marketing tools for brands, and its prominence as a topic of many panels, Twitter might just be the belle of the ball yet again.

After the show, Craven was asked if indeed Twitter had lived up to the anticipation.

“No. But I do think that it was the communications tool we all used throughout the event that trumped all others including text and calls. It was often much faster to tweet and get a response than text.”

Twitter Dominates Super Bowl & SXSW

In Superbowl ads, Twitter was mentioned in 50% of the ads while Facebook was mentioned in only 8%. Facebook may be the leading social platform, but  there is a certain something to Twitter that has caused it to pull ahead as the leading social platform cited in advertising.

Apparently, the same thing was true at SxSW where many had adopted Twitter as the go-to communications tool. As Craven said, “every single panel had to be submitted with a hashtag, and everyone was using it to amplify and engage with their audiences.”

It seems that even non-Twitter-users understand what hashtags are all about – so it’s no surprise rumors have been flying that even Facebook is looking to integrate them into their own platform.  Given the widespread use of hashtags in advertising, it makes a lot of sense.

Twitter is no longer the enfant terrible of social platforms – instead, it’s the teenager who has gone off to college, and now, visiting back home, demands respect with its well-earned status.

Shipping Containers That Tweet

I’m often asked if I think there are some businesses that shouldn’t use Twitter. I might once have answered, “Well, a global conglomerate of shipping companies might find little value there.”

But then, at the Digital Boost event in Copenhagen, I met Jonathan Wichmann, the social media manager for Maersk.  If you’ve ever visited a major cargo port, you’ll have seen the Maersk label on shipping containers, trucks, and even ships. They’re big – a global Fortune 500 company – and distinctly business-to-business.


Maersk has over one million fans on Facebook, and a healthy 46,000+ followers on Twitter. It turns out that there is a whole world of people who like to follow container ships and see photos of deep-port off-loadings. Wichmann said that Maersk’s ROI on social media is over the top, and that they have been able to assign a value of over a million dollars to their Twitter account.

From Wichmann, I heard a similar refrain to what other brand managers and marketers profess: it’s about the brand’s underlying passions and telling stories.

Maersk has followed sound social media marketing practices: they’ve clearly defined their voice and brand persona; they have recognized various micro-segments of audiences; and they communicate accordingly to each of the major social platforms.  They are a company worth watching in this space.

Would Henry Ford Have Used Twitter?

At the ReThink Conference in Oslo, I met up with Scott Monty (@ScottMonty), global head of social media for Ford Motor Company.  Ford has long been a model user of Twitter with its many user accounts such as @Ford and @FordMustang.

Of course, the marketers at Ford don’t expect their social media work to be a direct driver of sales, but that doesn’t mean it never happens.  While this example is a few years old, it’s still a nice illustration that sometimes that magic can happen.


Drawing For Twitter

While attending the Social Media Marketing World conference session this week in San Diego, I noticed that the person sitting next to me was fervently drawing away on an iPad.  Anne McColl (@annemccoll) told me that she frequently draws her notes and then tweets the drawings.


While at the conference session, other attendees were sharing their thoughts and quotes on Twitter as text.  Anne’s drawings stand out, and deservedly garner extra attention.  If you’re a visual person, you might consider trying this kind of note taking.

Anne McColl drawing used with permission of Anne McColl.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Ric Dragon is the author of the DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual and Social Marketology (McGraw Hill 2012) and the ceo/co-founder of DragonSearch. He is a regular speaker for Google at their Get Your Business Online seminars. Dragon frequently speaks about the convergence of social media, process, information architecture, and sociology.



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