Twitter’s Biggest Value: The Big Now

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Though it hasn’t been officially announced, the web is buzzing this morning with word that Twitter has made its largest acquisition ever: the social TV analytics company Bluefin Labs. Time will prove the merits of this investment, but Twitter obviously realizes its largest value to marketers: the ability to instantly capitalize on moments in real time. The impending acquisition shows that Twitter is very much aware of its relation to TV viewership and plans to deepen it.

The “Big Now” vs. the “Long Here”
Much like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Twitter and Facebook are often compared to one another for almost no reason at all –as if someone is either a Stones/Twitter person or a Facebook/Beatles person. The fact of the matter is that there are a great deal of people who enjoy both based on the fact that they are inherently different from one another.

Just looking at the most recent data on mentions of Twitter in Super Bowl commercials shows that advertisers understand that conversations on Twitter take place in what Adam Greenfield calls the “Big Now,” or the heightened sense of any given moment by seeing it through the lens of others’ experiences. During the blackout last Sunday, Twitter quoted that they were receiving over 231,500 tweets per minute.  Another great example of the real time type of engagements happening on Twitter is Oreo’s show-stealing advertisement, which was re-tweeted over 14,500 times and should be inducted into the Real-Time Marketing Hall of Fame. (If there was such a thing.)

Facebook’s usage is much different and focuses more on the opposite of the Big Now, which Greenfield calls the “Long Here,” or the ability to aggregate experiences, thoughts and memories in one place over time. Facebook’s roll out of check-in capabilities, update of timeline formats, the acquisition of Instagram and addition of photo maps show that it is putting its focus on the Long Here. Even its most recent platform update, Graph Search, focuses on Facebook’s capability to gather a lot of data about people, places and things over time.

Which Is More Important?
In short, brands should focus on both the Big Now and the Long Here when approaching their social strategy. Just in the same way we listen to the Beatles and Rolling Stones for completely different reasons, consumers treasure the Big Now and Long Here equally and for different reasons. With that said, Twitter has the advantage over Facebook in allowing brands to connect with their content across multiple screens in real time and in huge volumes, which is likely why Twitter and hashtags were mentioned in half of all Super Bowl ads.

Facebook on the other hand only really gives brands and publishers two outlets to grow their audience and spread their content. Brands can either pump more content into the Facebook ecosystem more often in the hopes of engaging more people or pay Facebook for unattractive advertising solutions that often have very low engagement.

Image courtesy of Moto Message.

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4 Responses to “Twitter’s Biggest Value: The Big Now”

  1. Dustin Verburg
    February 5, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    I like the Twitter/Stones and Facebook/Beatles comparison, particularly because I’ve always been a Stones guy and a Twitter guy.

    Seriously though, the abundance of hashtags in those ads (and everyday TV ads) has even stodgy, anti-technology people I know saying ‘I need a Twitter account.’ Though they probably already have Facebook accounts, so what does that say?

    • Alec Painter
      February 5, 2013 at 11:45 am #

      Perhaps all the stodgy holdouts feel like they are missing out on the Big Now?

      But glad you get the Stones/Beatles reference (I’m a Stones guy as well). There’s very few valid reasons for comparing the two aside from the fact that they are trying to get a greater share of our attention.

      • Dustin Verburg
        February 5, 2013 at 11:53 am #

        Right, and I guess sometimes that’s all it takes.

        And I think you hit it on the head. They ARE afraid they’re missing out on the big now because those brands they value are actively creating short snippets of content for Twitter. They’re also interacting with fans/customers to some degree.

        The hold-outs are still intimidated though and might not ever sign up despite temptation. “I just don’t understand Twitter. What’s the point?” is the most common thing I hear from people who say “I need a Twitter account” but don’t pull the trigger.

        Interesting stuff, Alec! Thanks for writing it.

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