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Viral content is king for marketers says Twitter's Bain

Posted on 4.01.2013

:: by Lindsay Whitehurst, Website Magazine Special Contributor ::

One way to think of Twitter is as a digital watercooler, a gathering place for people to talk about their favorite TV shows, latest news or make a political statement.

Though it is one heck of a watercooler.

“About 400 million tweets are sent through the platform every day,” said Adam Bain, Twitter’s president of global revenue, at the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in March. The platform now has 200 million active users, up from 100 million a year ago.

“We’re growing quite nicely,” Bain said — something of an understatement. Hired away from News Corp. almost three years ago as part of an effort to ramp up the company’s monetization efforts, according the blog TechCrunch, Bain is focused on mobile ads. They are expected to account for about half of Twitter’s $582.8 million in advertising revenue this year, and the company is expected to make nearly $1 billion next year on the strength of mobile, according to the research firm eMarketer, reported by Reuters.

“We have to get past this mobile first … It’s not just mobile first, it’s mobile only,” Bain said. Despite its relative youth, Bain said he doesn’t need to convince companies of the power of the platform.

“In my journey to go see [companies] I thought I would need to tell the story of ‘Why Twitter?’” Bain said. “Everyone knew why. The biggest question was, ‘How?’”

Twitter’s answer to that question, at least in part, is content. Create something fascinating, something that people want to pass on and share, and users do marketers’ work for them. Think word of mouth on steroids.

“When you touch our platform, you come ... with a key question — What’s hot, what’s new, what’s happening in the world,” Bain said. “Our core thesis is that, in order to measure the wallet, you have to first start by measuring the mind and heart.”

On Twitter, users don’t create in-depth profiles. Instead, they constantly create, and re-create, online personas. “You are what you tweet, you are who you follow, you are who you re-tweet,” said Bain.

Marketers need to be “so good, so interesting, so thought provoking that … people want to spread it out at their own personal risk,” Bain said. Do that, and users can be “moving the message on the marketer’s behalf.”

That take also recognizes the medium’s organic, grassroots streak, something Bain says Twitter took into account when designing their strategy for brand enhancement.

“It’s not enough to just be loud,” he said.

But Twitter still has more in prove to show online watercooler buzz can translate into dollars.

“What you’re really going to see from us is deep investigation on the analytics side,” Bain said, referencing the company’s recent acquisition of Bluefin Labs, a social TV analytics company. “The product works when we’re sending you to someplace that’s interesting.”

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