Twitter’s Profile Changes Were a Surprise to Brands, Too
Matt Lauer and Ryan Seacrest weren’t the only ones catching wind of Twitter’s new profile pages this morning. Corporate America was also getting the news for the first time.
In the interest of preventing leaks, Twitter, whose business is almost wholly dependent on advertising, apparently didn’t clue in potential advertisers or their agencies. “They told us they’d be changing something and wouldn’t say what,” said one social media marketer who, like others interviewed for this story, requested anonymity. “It wasn’t their finest moment in agency relations, something they’ve had trouble with at times.”
Other agencies echoed the complaint. “They told us a little, but not enough,” said another exec at a social media marketing firm. “Agency relationships are not their strong suit, but I know they’re looking to change that.” Added another, “It would have been nice to have some stuff rolled out in advance.” Despite having a big-name client, the latter exec added, “We still got nothing.”
Twitter reps could not be reached for comment.
The lack of advance notice explains why there were so few updated brand profile pages on Tuesday, when Twitter announced the change. By Tuesday afternoon, the top brand page on Twitter — YouTube’s — was still sporting the old design, as were other top brands including CNN Breaking News, The New York Times, the NBA, CNN, MTV, Google and ESPN, to name a few. Though it’s fairly easy to add a header image, updating a brand’s site usually requires several sign-offs that slow down the process.
Though agencies are an integral element of the communication between social media networks and advertisers, some are just getting around to making an effort to court them. Facebook created Facebook Studio last year to do so and has included agency reps in recent marketing-related announcements. Google for the past four years has run a program under the Creative Sandbox banner that also woos agencies, and launched a program called “Project Re: Brief” in March that celebrated and updated classic ads from the 1960s and 1970s for the digital age.
When asked whether Facebook was any better at keeping agencies apprised of updates that will affect clients, one social media exec replied that the company does “if you’re spending a lot of money with them.” Oftentimes Facebook execs are left unaware of major impending announcements. Such secrecy is endemic in an industry in which every small bit of news can be blown up on the Internet. Said another social media marketer, “It’s hard to announce these changes to brands in advance because often times that’s how it can leak.”
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