How Twitter’s ‘live’ offering will provide value for PR

Twitter reported its financial results for the quarter ending on March 31 this week, highlighting its ‘live’ strategy for 2016, which will focus on creating more premium content, particularly in the sports sector. Gorkana speaks to sports agencies M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment and Calacus to find out what this means for PR.

Twitter has some way to go to catch up with peers such as Facebook when it comes to making profits and the size of its user base. Part of its strategy for growth involves delivering more premium live content, particularly video, for users to engage with. To put this in context, here are the areas Twitter is focusing on, in particular, as explained by key executives in its earnings statement for Q1 2016.

  • Twitter’s focus on live content

Although Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has noted it has had a focus on live content ‘for over 10 years’, the platform hopes to present more live opportunities by covering large-scale events in sports, politics and entertainment and opening up more video streaming opportunities.

During the platform’s earnings’ call, Dorsey addressed his plans on live content saying: “We believe we have a leadership position in it, but it’s not just about a live event, it’s also about hosting a conversation around a live event. Twitter has always been the best place to bring people around a particular shared experience.”

  • Twitter’s focus on video

The social platform primarily hopes to lead these ‘live’ conversations through the use of video with Twitter-owned products such as Vine and Periscope and also via auto-play ads on Amplify, its ad network.

Dorsey said: “Periscope is a great example of this, where we think we do have a significant leadership position in live streaming video and we want to make sure that is the best, not only for broadcasters, but for their fans and the fan base that watch those Periscopes.”

  • Twitter and sports partnerships

The company holds up its recent partnership with the NFL as an example of how it hopes to deliver its live strategy. As NFL’s streaming partner, Twitter will deliver live and premium content for logged in, logged out and syndicated users, during Thursday night American football games.

These are the types of partnerships Twitter hopes to promote to ensure more engagement. “As soon as we announced that deal, almost every league in the world contacted us, because they want to provide an even better experience for their fans,” Dorsey added.

Haran Ramachandran, head of digital at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, said there is PR value to be found with Twitter’s ‘live’ focus: “The PR opp for brands comes through partnering with them on facilitating these events. Twitter experimented with this sort of thing in 2012 – it created a product called Hashtag Pages which were designed to house all conversation around a given event. It was trialled with Nascar but never took off.

“A brand might be able to create something similar around an NFL broadcast on Twitter – owning a particular area like nomination of MVP or providing live reaction from a former player on Persicope. This sort of thing generates coverage as it’s a new form of engagement.”

David Alexander, Calacus’ managing director said these new developments don’t change the fundamentals of successful PR using Twitter. He added: “From a PR perspective, the rules remain the same, whatever the channel – the content has to be relevant, genuine and engaging without being a hard sell.”

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