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Biz Stone: Twitter Drives "Let's Watch It When It's On" Viewing

Twitter doesn’t claim to have caused the biggest Super Bowl viewing audience in history, but maybe it helped, says Twitter cofounder Biz Stone. Stone sees Twitter as helping drive live viewing by creating a shared experience. Stone also had a further rebuttal to Malcolm Gladwell’s dissing of the value of social media in political movements.

Stone’s comments came during an on stage interview with Julia Boorstin of CNBC at FM’s Signal LA event. My live blogging of the interview is below.

Twitter & Marketing

Has Twitter changed the marketing conversation? Biz, sure, it’s a two way street, people can complain. Virgin America during big storms was also able to tune into what people were saying, help them get reschedule?

Is everything on Twitter content marketing? Biz says early on, noticed how companies were listening, a hybrid between customer service and marketing. They realized companies were getting value out of the basic services Twitter was offering in a way it didn’t expect.

What’s Twitter offering marketers? Biz: promoted tweets, promoted trends, a way for natural things on Twitter happening already can be accelerated.

What’s your vision on how Twitter helps marketers? Biz, thinks ultimate goal for any company is how do you make a better experience for your users, and that’s Twitter’s goal — to help them in that.

Empowered Consumers & Users

Has Twitter changed power dynamic, ceded control to consumers. Biz, with shout out to John Battelle, says there’s a change with conversational marketing. Now consumers can make an impact on how people do business. Gap logo being changed is an example of that.

What’s best way for companies to harness conversations that are already happening? Biz, best way to get started especially for companies wary of social media and Twitter is to just listen in by searching for their name. Good example early on with Twitter was JetBlue, which jumped on Twitter, did these mini-press releases that just kind of sucked. One guy there basically gave up and said “what do you want?” and people responded that’s it — that you’re engaging with us.

Biz said even happened to him when he tweeted boarding a flight, and JetBlue tweeted try our new smoked almonds. I was like woah, the plane’s tweeting at me.

Twitter, TV & Movies

Surprises? One, that companies took to Twitter so quickly, since after first 9 months, people just kept saying how stupid it was. Other, how TV and movie studios caught on so fast. Discovering they can monitor Twitter to see how well something might do, or how it can cause a rise in viewershiop.

Twitter has changed Hollywood? Biz, “Yes.’ Studios that have suffered from Twitter? Biz says the Bruno movie, how quickly people said it was bad. Marketing trick to keep a film going over a weekend don’t work so well now. But on positive, Inglorious Bastards, Weinstein said Twitter was a huge help. Ultimately, how do we get people to say our movies are better on Twitter? Simple — make better movies. So it’s a positive thing for the industry.

Is Twitter making it hard to keep secrets from fans, spoiling surprises. Yes, could be bad if it spoils illustion with too much information, actors on set eating, but it can also give you so much more of a shared experience, too.

Restoring Shared Experiences

Super Bowl had record ratings … “All do to Twitter” Biz says, interrupting with a laugh. Julie goes on with other examples of things Twitter may boost. Biz says hey, if you want to give us credit for all that, sure. But seriously, everyone talks about how TV was fragmented, but there is something humanizing when you can come together. We look at our charts and spikes after TV shows and that people are experiencing things together.

With Super Bowl, partnered in a way that if you weren’t at a Super Bowl party, you could be at one … all this is driving more people to think “Let’s watch it when it’s on.”

Twitter, Egypt & Gladwell

Giving more voice to those without voice, Biz says when asked about Egypt. Trying to make a network that lets anyone in the world have a voice even when there are the weakest of signals.

How about Gladwell poking down at social connections as being kind of weak, in the wake of Egypt?

“The strenght of weak ties shouldn’t be overlooked,” Biz says. Gladwell said, he explains, that sending out a tweet isn’t the same as the Civil Rights movement of the 1960. “Yeah, no shit .. no one ever said that.”

What we’re saying is no matter what situtation you’re in, you’re going to need to communication, whether that was telephones during the fall of the Berlin Wall or what people gravitate to now. To say Twitter has no role in that is absurd. But we’d never argue sending out a single tweet is the same as life threatening civil disobedience.

Watching Mobile

Where’s Twitter going? A lot in mobile. Twitter needs to “push push push” on mobile.

And content marketing? Things like promoted tweets and promoted trends are the epitome of that, not to shill but inform. Fundamentally content marketing.

Question from audience on authenticity of conversation on Twitter. Do you think it’s mostly consumers using it or people being taken advantage of? Biz, about 200 million accounts on Twitter, don’t think they’re mostly content marketers but rather “folks.” On Twitter, what keeps things real is people can unfollow you as easily as follow you. So if not relevant, puts onus on content marketer to be authentic and helpful.

Billions of tweets, and we’re pretty sure for any person on the planet, there’s a tweet somewhere that’s relevant to them.

And that’s it.

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