In an attempt to upskill young talents in media and advertising agencies to use its platform and solutions for clients, Twitter has launched the #TweetToTheTop programme, where the best in class will be rewarded with a trip to Cannes 2018.
The year-long programme, unique to Asia Pacific, will see the young talents from 11 agencies from GroupM, Omnicom, Interpublic, and Dentsu in Australia, India, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore, showcase their best work using Twitter platform and solutions.
The top 25 will then compete to have their work entered into the Cannes Festival of Creativity in 2018.
Speaking to The Drum on the sidelines of the Singapore leg of the launch at Twitter APAC office, Simon Brockman, head of agencies in APAC, explained that the programme launched in Cannes this year with all the regional chief executives in attendance because Twitter wanted their support as programmes like this are not only just an investment for the company, but also time investment for agencies.
As the main idea of the programme was to build up Twitter's partnership with agencies, the company gathered all the local marketing leads across the region after Cannes, to contact local marketing heads to ensure that their rising stars stay within the business and use Twitter in compelling and innovative ways.
According to Brockman, who has spent 22 years working across PHD, OMD and Carat, the good response to the programme is a sign that Twitter and the agencies are working closely together, in line with co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey's announcement at Cannes that the company is moving towards forging partnerships with third parties rather than acquiring or building its own offerings.
Brockman also added that for now, the programme will only consist of the bigger shops and the priority for Twitter is to expand the programme to other markets in the region.
“It is incredibly important because agencies are very busy as it is a highly competitive environment and obviously from a Twitter perspective as well, we exist in a competitive space,” said Brockman.
“It is really up to us to educate them to use our platform in the best possible way and ensure that we are doing the best possible work with the agencies as well. We are an innovation platform, so it is very important that the innovation can come to life.
“We have most of the agencies from the top six holding companies across every single market in the program, so I think a bigger question is if we are expanding to other markets and the answer is if we get the right feedback, we would absolutely love to.”
While the main aim of the programme is to develop the digital knowledge and skills of the young talents, industry issues like transparency and advertising fraud will also be touched on in lessons.
“Those things are implicit in a lot of conversations when we talk about our products and we cover that at different stages with #TweetToTheTop,” said Brockman.
“One of the products in particular that was talked a lot about today was live streaming on the platform in brand safe environments.
“So absolutely, I think those elements are of enormous importance to us and we believe our platform is a solution for agencies in order to address these issues.”
New industry trends like advertising technologies and teaching the young talents on how to advise clients to spend their advertising dollars on platforms other than Facebook and Google will also be included in the programme, said Brockman.
“It [adtech] will come as part of program, again, its implicit in all the training that we are doing with them. The nuts and bolts of brief response, we will cover that. But for the first session, its more about using Twitter to enhance personal brands, using the network and tips to do that,” he explained.
“Many people are incredibly hardworking and they don't really have the time to resurrect and build their own personal careers. The second component is about using Twitter from a business and brand perspective, so it is all about innovation. So in the social brief response, we are not looking for a call to action or various different KPIs.
“We expect that the response will be a broad idea on how to answer those different briefs we talked about.
“[Walled gardens] are implicit in our teachings, so what we are doing is educating the rising stars, so they know how to use the platform in the best possible way. So as rising stars, they will be influencers within an agency.
“As a result of that, we expect people to use our platform in a better way for their clients. These guys are the best of the best, so if we have them using the platform then they become people in the agency that others will look to as best practice.”
Even as Twitter’s competitors like Facebook, Instagram and Snap are gaining more popularity with their live and stories features respectively, Brockman believes that programmes like #TweetToTheTop can remind agencies of the benefits of using Twitter.
He also pointed out that Twitter was the first to experiment with live streaming with Periscope and expressed his confidence that the company will continue to be at forefront of emerging technologies.
“We are an incredibly unique platform in terms of what we offer, so we are about breaking news and what's happening now. Everything breaks first on Twitter. From the context of 'live' and all those other products, including video, we offer something unique compared to our competitors because it is immediate,” explained Brockman.
“When I think of Singapore, it is a good example because of this guy who tweeted to KFC for nearly eight months because he wanted spicy chicken drumlets and as a result of his tweeting, they reintroduced it to the menu. No other platform can do that in real-time and have that connection between users and brands.
“We are also already using virtual reality and Twitter will always be at the forefront of innovation. We were one of the first platforms to introduce live streaming in the first place, so Periscope has been around for quite some time.
“From a platform perspective, video is the most important thing that we are talking about and there are many different ways to bring video to the platform.”
Facebook and Snap have also stepped up efforts to become broadcasters with tie ups with television networks and new initiatives, but Brockman is unfazed by the competition, saying: “We are not a social media channel anymore, we are a broadcaster as our deals with the global brands like the NFL, broadcast partnerships with ABS-CBN in Philippines and Seven West Media group in Australia demonstrates our movement into that broadcast arena.
“If we can put broadcast and conversations into the same device, we have a really powerful tool that makes us unique.”