News & Views

The Future of Twitter / Event

by Contagious Team

Twitter's UK director Bruce Daisley on how to get the most from 140 characters and what's next for the social platform

The micro-blogging site Twitter has made some recent moves beyond its 140-characters. In a fireside chat with Albion's Glyn Britton this week, Bruce Daisley, the UK's director of Twitter, spoke about the company's vision for the future.

Founded in 2006, Twitter has over 200 million active users, and Daisley attributes its success to the power of constrained publishing. Quoting the BBH founder, Sir John Hegarty, he believes that the 'talk less, say more' philosophy has worked, giving Twitter's users access to a world of information in their pockets.

The ability to scan through tweets is key to this, and it's something that Twitter will continue to preserve. It's the expansion of tweets with additional media that Twitter is now playing with through multimedia investments. These include 6-second video-sharing app, Vine and Twitter Cards which allow users to view content directly within an app if they have it installed.

Expanding the Tweet

With six times more engagement for tweets containing a photo, compared to the standard 140 characters, expanded tweets are clearly fruitful ground. Vine and Twitter Cards are just the start: the company is also developing the space to enable transactions and voting to take place through the platform.

Daisley describes Twitter as an 'information network, rather than a social network,' connecting users in real-time to their news and interests. Instead of focusing on being a part of the conversation, Twitter is happier to act as enabler, offering space for content creators to apply their expertise. Daisley added: 'We want to get out of the way,' instead concentrating on finding ways to surface more material that is relevant to their users' interests.


Surfacing appropriate content extends to Twitter's advertising strategy. The platform profits from promoted tweets and trends that appear in relevant users' streams, with the advertiser charged when a promoted Tweet or piece of content is engaged with. Its 1-2% click-through rate beats Facebook ads (currently 0.041% according to SocialFresh's recent survey). And this approach, Daisley tells us, is inspired by Google's clean, uncluttered advertising, 'it's something that we're striving to replicate.'

However Twitter's focus on advertising has recently gone up a gear, with the unveiling of its advertising API, enabling marketers to sync tweets with TV ads using third party tools to create 'timely moments', continuing its hold on real-time chatter. 


Beyond advertising, what's the recipe for success for a brand on Twitter? The pattern, according to Daisley is that when the engagement comes from senior executives within a company, the better it works. A noteworthy example is Ronan Dunne, the CEO of UK mobile network O2. At the end of the day Dunne searches for tweets containing 'O2' to get an overview of the public's feelings towards the brand. At the mobile network, tweeting is handled across the company following a clear set of rules, instead of by a specific social media department. This approach works for a service brand like O2, but as a word of advice for all, Daisley reminds us that 'tone of voice is an extraordinarily differentiating factor'.