Twitter’s Costolo Touts Real-Time Connections

Points to the immediacy and emotion of unfiltered media as new marketing model

CANNES, France—As social media and sharing continue to transform media, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo on Wednesday championed the revolutionary benefits that real-time planning can have on creative executions on- and offline.

Speaking during a Twitter seminar here titled "Harnessing the Power of Real-Time Connections," Costolo pointed to the immediacy, authenticity and emotion that platforms like Twitter can harness for marketers in their efforts to make deeper connections with consumers.

“The reality of the world we live in now is that friction between time and space has been obliterated,” said Costolo to the standing-room-only hall. “Though the immediacy comes emotion.…Twitter brings you closer.”

Costolo used real-world examples like the Arab Spring and the Olympics as well as specific uses of Twitter—which now features 400 million tweets every day—by brands to illustrate that the filtered, inside-out approach to communication is quickly being replaced by an unfiltered, outside-in mode that provides an emotionally charged front-row seat to global perspectives that had previously been remote or unknown.

That front-row seat is transforming brand messaging that Costolo said has historically been interruptive, loud, one-way and ultimately fleeting.

“What does it mean then when the conversation itself is the canvas?” asked Costolo, who came armed with examples. He pointed to Burberry, which during the recent London Fashion Week tweeted photos of the models before they came out on the runway and sparked a conversation that went well beyond the attendees of the shows.

H&M, too, created dialog with the David Beckham Super Bowl spot by simply adding #beckhamforhm to its ad and commenting on and sharing the ad well after the game was over.

Costolo also pointed to a nimble execution by Tide during the Daytona 500. The detergent was used to help clean up after a crash and fire, and the P&G brand tweeted out a shot of the mop-up and asked followers to tweet back captions.

Each of these examples of using Twitter “extended the runway of their investment in the campaign,” said Costolo, adding they made “earned media free to them.”

Costolo also took a swipe at existing digital ad models as purely interruptive that provide little in the way of value for consumers.

“When the content is embed in the conversation in incredibly simple ways, we have seen huge engagement,” he said, pointing to very simple text and photo tweets by Porsche that produced very high levels of engagement.

Supported with a backdrop of episodic slides of AMC’s Man Men to drive his point home, Costolo also said that legacy media planning has to adjust as well, pointing to Twitter outreach by both Cadbury and Audi that reacted quickly to feedback from fans and consumers and adjusted their branding virtually on the fly.

“Adapt the campaigns to the moment instead of planning our campaigns for the future,” he said.