Friday’s Keynote at Webvisions: “Whither Twitter?” by @Pistachio

PORTLAND–Twitter launched over five years ago, which is eons in Internet time. Yet, Laura Fitton, Inbound Marketing Evangelist at HubSpot and this afternoon’s Keynote speaker at Webvisions is here to say that the disruptive force that is Twitter has only just begun.

Quoting Joel Lunenfeld, who works for Twitter, Fitton says, “Twitter is like an EKG for attention.” It’s a global sensing and signaling network, she says. “Twitter relays whatever is remarkable.”

Interestingly, Fitton notes that influencer modes are subverted on Twitter. “The message is the influencer. I love that about Twitter,” she says.

Facebook is busy converting promise into cash today, but Fitton claims Facebook doesn’t have the same message propagation properties as Twitter, partly because it’s browser driven. There’s a deeply democratic aspect to Twitter thanks to its mobile interface. There are five billion ‘dumb phones’ in the world and all of them are capable of publishing via SMS, without even joining Twitter, Fitton says.

Twitter has revolutionary qualities baked in, but can it also change the marketing communications game for the better? Fitton says we must learn to turn our messages inside out, because it’s not about us, it’s about the reader. She adds that best practices on Twitter can be summed up in two words: Be useful.

“At Hubspot, our marketing solves problems for people,” she says. She advises that marketers approach their marketing like they do their products. “Make your marketing into something people will pay for,” she suggests.

She closes her talk with a discussion of #hashtags, which remind her of starlings. “They flash, form, and disappear,” she says. Fitton started a weekly Twitter-based chat around the hashtag #beonfire. “I have a show now,” she says. “Twitter-based chats are the Rotary Clubs of the future.”

Following her talk, I ask Fitton — who follows 98,228 people at this time — how she uses Twitter (technically speaking). She says she employs a “read only” technique, where she follows about 1000 people on a private account created for this purpose only. She also reads her at replies and direct messages on her @pistachio account, and uses lists to parse the content.

I ask about keeping one’s follower account under control, to reduce the blast from the fire hose. Fitton says, “You want to keep it under control however you’re reading it, but especially if you’re a business on Twitter, whom you follow shouldn’t be how you read Twitter. If you’re a business on Twitter, whom you follow should be all about who you permit to DM you.”

I also ask Fitton which MarCom practice is best prepared to manage a brand’s social media marketing. “I think the talent is lost on a few different islands,” she says. “I think the best creative — ‘like, oh wow, I really want to consume that content’ — talent is still in the advertising industry. But I feel like that’s the last industry to understand social, whereas the publicists were on it right away because they understand relationships.”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.