The Last Word on Twitter Ads

Twitter has to please a lot of constituencies with its new ads: Marketers, investors, third-party developers. And, of course, regular folks.

Fortunately The Onion has already talked to the man and woman on the street. Full report here.

Bonus video! The Onion explains why your parents might want to use Facebook and Twitter:

How Film Festivals Use Twitter to Boost Attendance, Engagement

Action. Animated. Documentary. Experimental. These are four of the categories that film festivals program in their schedules. But they're also apt descriptions of the Twitter narrative that film festival organizers are weaving into their filmgoer engagement and marketing initiatives.

Leslie Feibleman, director of special programs and senior programmer for the Newport Beach Film Festival, said Twitter is similar to the film industry in that it's "dynamic, continuously emerging, and is infused with new talent, technology and ideas -- a place to discover and be discovered."

I connected with organizers, programmers and social media strategists working for the Newport Beach Film Festival (April 22-29), Phoenix Film Festival (April 8-15) and Wisconsin Film Festival (April 14-18) to gather insight into how they engage filmgoers and drive them from Twitter to theater.

Action: Inspire Interest and Attendance

"We find that followers respond well to giveaways, promotions and visuals," according to Feibleman.

Robert Aldecoa, marketing director of the Phoenix Film Festival, has used Twitter in a variety of ways to reach and expand the festival's audience.

"The largest efforts were initially geared toward announcing film screenings and directing users to the appropriate ticket page," Aldecoa said. "We tried to include a useful hyperlink in as many tweets as possible in an attempt to engage our followers beyond 140 characters. You really do have to provide consistent, useful information. It also helps to give your followers a reason to participate in your efforts -- whether it's to win some movie passes or see their name and user pic on a big-screen in the party tent. If people have a great time and talk about it, their friends wonder what they're missing and we'll see even more of their happy faces next year."

PhoenixFilmFest tweet.jpg

But does all the content-sharing, contests and click-through opportunities result in a higher level of attendance? According to Gregg Schwenk, CEO and executive director of the Newport Beach Film Festival, the answer is yes. "The Festival has seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in pre-festival ticket sales between 2009 and 2010 due to social media, including Twitter," he said.

Animated: Have Fun and Show Personality

Most festivals screen more than 100 films over the course of a week, so they have a lot of content to talk about and share on Twitter. Equally important to some organizers is the ability to share a smile and showcase the festival's true essence.

wifilmfest tweet.jpg

"Bring your sense of humor. Make it personal, not corporate. Respond," said Meg Hamel, director of the Wisconsin Film Festival. "Don't make it seem like you're only doing this only to sell tickets. Don't make it seem like you're doing this because somewhere you read that social media was the next big thing. And here in Wisconsin, people really do care what you have for breakfast, as long as it involves bacon."

Documentary: Tell the Real Story

People want to hear the true story. Hamel strives to integrate an authentic, insider approach for her followers, giving "the people reading those messages a realistic and unfiltered view of what it's like behind the scenes."

She continued:

It's helped those people interested in the Festival understand that this is an event assembled by real people who are passionate about what they do, work crazy hours to make it work, encounter unexpected obstacles and invent ways to move around them, and care deeply and authentically about the audience experience. The Wisconsin Film Festival is not an event organized to capture the attention of film industry people far away, it's homegrown specifically for the people of our state and for our friends and neighbors who want to enjoy an April weekend watching cracking-good motion pictures.

Experimental: Create and Pursue Opportunities that Add Value

For film festival organizers to transcend the expected and reach avant-garde status in social media, they understand the need to experiment with what they offer.

Newport Beach film fest tweet.jpg

Kelly Strodl, a social media consultant for the Newport Beach Film Festival, provided an overview of how they plan to do this.

"We plan to utilize a number of tactics -- hyper-syndication, mainly -- on our several blogs, our Facebook fan pages, and other posts. [These include] geo-location tagging, promos, retweets of filmmaker posts, video posting to, which posts quick clips to Twitter, and posts from YouTube," she said. "We're also going to try and connect filmmakers already on Twitter in possibly a tweet-up or simply an impromptu sit-down discussion of how social media, namely Twitter and Facebook, have influenced their ways of filmmaking and promotion."

The Phoenix Film Festival recently showcased the filmgoer conversation in visually compelling ways that brought the conversation to life.

"We're doing something pretty cool right now," said Aldecoa. "There are two big screens in the festival tent and an LCD in the VIP area that display a social media feed along with our sponsor ads. Each time a user mentions @PhoenixFilmFest on Twitter or checks-in via Foursquare, it shows up for everyone in the tent to see. It's pretty neat for festival attendees to [be able to] provide instant feedback on the films they see, and the fun they have at the parties."

There's one additional film category that matches Twitter's communication style: Short. While film festival organizers and programmers are limited in characters on Twitter, they've used the service to reach reach moviegoers who may be new festival followers and attendees. For the Newport Beach Film Festival, Phoenix Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival and dozens more, Twitter has emerged as a valued "reel-time" communications and promotions platform.

Twitter is now playing at a festival near you. Do you have a favorite film festival on Twitter? Share it in the comments, and follow some of the festivals listed below.

21 Film Festivals to Follow:

Atlanta Film Festival
Boston Film Festival

Chicago International Film Festival

Dallas International Film Festival

Florida Film Festival

Hawaii International Film Festival

London Film Festival (British Film Institute)

Los Angeles Film Festival

New Zealand Film Festival

Newport Beach Film Festival

Philadelphia Film Festival

Phoenix Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival

Sydney Film Festival

Toronto International Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival

Vail Film Festival

Vancouver International Film Festival

Wisconsin Film Festival

Nick Mendoza is the director of digital communications at Zeno Group. He advises consumer, entertainment and web companies on digital and social media engagement. He dreamstreams and is the film correspondent for MediaShift. Follow him on Twitter @NickMendoza.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

The Details Of Twitter’s Ad Model

Dick Costolo and John Battelle

Twitter COO Dick Costolo laid out the details of Twitter’s new ad platform at the company’s Chirp conference this afternoon. What we didn’t know before: Once the ad platform—which gives extra play to a Tweet of an advertiser’s choice—expands beyond Twitter’s own site, Twitter partners—like a third-party Twitter client—will be able to choose whether or not to distribute the “promoted Tweets” to their own users. If they do choose to participate, Twitter will split the resulting ad revenue 50-50.

(Twitter, by the way, refuses to call the messages ads, in part because users can re-Tweet and star them just like normal Tweets. Like our friends at SAI, however, we will not fall for their spin).

For now, the ads only show up when a user searches for a specific keyword. Ultimately, however, the ads will show up in a user’s stream and be targeted based on something Twitter is calling a user’s “public interest graph.” Costolo was vague—but said this could take into account where a user is located and also what accounts they follow.

Advertisers will eventually set maximum budgets for their Twitter campaigns, Costolo said. How much they end up spending, however, will be based on the ad’s “resonance”—a measure of how users engage with the Tweets. The frequency that the ads show up will also be based on this “resonance.” So, for instance, if two advertisers want their ads to show up when someone searches for a specific term on Twitter, the ad that shows up most frequently will be the one with the most “resonance” and if an ad doesn’t surpass a certain “resonance” score it will stop showing up.

Eventually, Twitter will have two primary sources of revenue: Advertising and paid commercial accounts. The commercial accounts, Costolo said, are already in beta testing with a “couple hundred companies.” No word on when they will roll out. Costolo said the company is “still working” on them.

As for when the ads will move beyond, Costolo would only say that it would happen before “next year.”


The Twitter Stats We’ve Always Wanted To Know


Twitter has always been mum on some key stats about its service—like how many people have actually signed up to use it. But at its Chirp conference Wednesday, co-founder Biz Stone finally made public some numbers. He says the site now has 105,779,710 registered users—and is adding 300,000 new users a day. About 60 percent of them are coming from outside the U.S.

Possibly most significantly, Stone says that only a quarter of Twitter’s users access the site via, as opposed to a third-party Twitter client. That matters because so many of the traffic stats that have been released by measurement services have not taken into account outside usage. Stone said Twitter’s own stats come from its internal system (called Bird Brain) as well as Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Analytics.

Watch live video from Twitter Chirp Conference on

How Did Twitter Pass Yahoo in Search? With Robots, of Course!

If you’re a regular person, you probably rarely search for something on Twitter. Because search on Twitter is a lousy experience.

So how can Twitter generate more search queries than Yahoo (YHOO) and one fifth of Google’s (GOOG) total each month, as the company announced during its Chirp conference today?

Because Twitter’s definition of “search” is different from a regular person’s.

You probably think of a search as something you do when you enter a term into a search box and hit return. But Twitter’s network allows power users on clients like TweetDeck and Seesmic to create a standing search field for a particular term, which then automatically updates itself. Each one of those updates counts as a new search.

And those kinds of searches–made by a minority of Twitter users, with the aid of machines–are what account for most of Twitter’s search volume, Danny Sullivan explains quite well today, following a conversation with Twitter CEO Ev Williams.

As Danny notes, it’s certainly an important technical accomplishment for Twitter to be able to respond to all those queries. But it also illustrates why Twitter needs to and will move its ad platform beyond search queries.

[Image credit: a voir etc]

Google Takes a (Small) Stab at Fixing Twitter Search

Twitter has a lot going for it. But search isn’t one of those things.

Even the service’s biggest fans concede that looking for something on Twitter, which can only return results in chronological order, is frustrating at best.

Twitter knows it, too. COO Dick Costolo told me yesterday that his company has a dedicated team working to improve search and that we should expect to see improvements throughout the year.

Meanwhile, other people are taking a crack at it. TweetUp, for instance, intends to lure eyeballs to its ads by promising search results that favor particularly “great” tweets and tweeters.

And here’s a tweak today from Google: A feature that lets searchers comb through the Twitter archives and pull results from a particular time period.

Google (GOOG), which has a short-term contract to syndicate Twitter’s stream, is only offering the feature for tweets going back to February 11 this year, but the company says it will eventually offer the service for all the tweets generated in Twitter’s four-year history (see image below; click to enlarge).

That’s not nearly enough to fix Twitter search, but it is cool. And probably useful in some situations.

The feature is rolling out now, but it may take a while to show up on your laptop. To see if it’s available, go to “options” on your search results page and pick “updates.” If you still don’t see anything, you can see a sample version here, though I was only able to get it to work with the Safari browser, for some reason. Go figure.