Brands See Twitter As The Second Screen To TV…Or Is It The Other Way Around?

Twitter and TV go together like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Or to use a more recent reference, Jay Z and Beyoncé. In many ways, Twitter is an organic digital counterpart to television programming, as today’s consumers will almost always have a second screen in hand while watching the first screen. Twitter, the lively information network powered by serendipity, connects people and real-time experiences. It serves as a communal chamber filled with people who are not necessarily bound by relationship, but by the interests they share in the moment.

What people watch and the reactions they have ricochet from the big screen to the little screen in real-time, creating a rich network of information and conversation. Something as simple as an onscreen #hashtag can spark a convergence of reactions that bring people together. As mentioned in my previous post on the subject of social TV, Twitter refers to these spontaneous moments as the convergence of discovery and engagement.

What if they weren’t spontaneous, but were designed to play out as stories of their own?

In Twitter’s recently published report out of its UK branch, “Tune in with Twitter,” we learn that discovery and engagement aren’t just isolated to on screen programming; advertising is also part of the conversation. And smart advertisers are using Twitter to make the ad, program, and online conversations one.


Every advertisement has a Twitter presence just like every program triggers Tweets. Essentially, they happen with or without your direction. Whether celebrated, lambasted or indifferent, Tweets fly — and what those Tweets communicate are yours to define.

By integrating Twitter into advertising, the report found that brand recall scores and other intentional marketing goals increase. The deeper the integration, the deeper the engagement. As advertisers integrate brand and story together with the Twitter ecosystem, they realize greater success in both reach and engagement.

To help advertisers see the potential of Twitter integration, the report provides a simple and convincing display of mentions based on depth.

1. All ads have a presence. Even ads without integration enjoy a limited conversational presence.

2. Hashtags are the new brand tagline. Brands that include a hashtag in ads will hear conversations soar, while also organizing conversations around a desired axis.

3. Promoted Trends drive discovery and engagement. Twitter sells a variety of Promoted products, one of which is a Promoted Trend. Add that to the mix, and Twitter guarantees top spot visibility on the second screen while the campaign runs on the first screen.

4. Deeper engagement involves even more users and viewers. Consider the future of product placement, where brands become a native part of the story. The unification of brand, ad, story, and Promoted products amplify conversations to unfathomable volumes.


Hashtags are more than the new brand tagline. Hashtags are a vocalized expression that conveys an afterthought or the underlying meaning or notion of the Tweet. For example, “Have to visit family today for brunch #betterthingstodo.” Hashtags are creating a unique culture in Twitter and they have become part of not only the Twitterverse but also real life. Hashtags can play a big role in advertising.

In the report, Twitter observed three main ways brands use hashtags successfully.

1. Brand tagline. Adidas used the hashtag as a master brand theme. #takethestage or #stagetaken was used in ads online and offline.

2) Hashtag jacking. Leverage existing conversations to draw new, desirable, or extended audiences.

3) Activate the community. Use Hashtags to drive engagement, action, and outcomes.


On the surface, Promoted Trends seem to be just another ad vehicle. Brands, however, are encouraged to think of them as a gavel striking a table in a large and noisy room. Once you silence the clamor and draw attention to you, what are you going to do about it? Clever use of Promoted Trends is found to have an incredible effect on the proverbial social conversation.

Deep integration implies more than syndication across multiple screens. Integration is enveloped by story and an interactive ecosystem that provokes and channels conversations and engagement.

As Twitter notes, Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets drive discovery and engagement. Promoted Products gain visibility by helping brands target interest groups that reach beyond existing followers.


Twitter tells the story of Coca Cola. The company seeded its Christmas ad on Twitter using a Promoted Trend before it aired on TV – #holidaysarecoming. The Promoted Trend boosted discovery instantaneously, triggering almost 100k Tweets and 7.6m in unique reach on Twitter before it aired.



We’ve already established that every ad is the beneficiary or victim of conversations on Twitter. If a conductor can assemble a myriad of instruments in an orchestra to create something harmonious and beautiful, why not orchestrate conversations in a similar manner?

Aligning Twitter and TV is the keystone. Twitter plus TV opens up new and creative possibilities for brands to include viewers in a new genre of dynamic storytelling where brands become heroes.

For example, Mercedes aired a pioneering TV campaign that invited viewers to Tweet “#hide” or “#evade” to have a say about the next stage of the story.


The key to remember is not to judge the success of the ad by the number of Tweets, as that frequently represents only a small subset of those who are exposed to the message. That’s a ratio that you can change. Nonetheless, those exposed and those who tweet demonstrate value to brands. Doing so increases lift and overall brand metrics. In this example, 1 in 4 sought to learn more about the Mercedes A Class.

Overview of Twitter’s Promoted Products


As the relationship between television and Twitter evolve, first and second screens become portals to relevant conversations and connections. People are going to talk, so give them something to talk about. How content plays out on television shapes the Tweets that unfold in each moment. This happens whether content creators and advertisers know it or not. Why wouldn’t producers and creatives then reconsider storytelling and desirable actions and outcomes?

Tweetable moments require architecture. Second screen behavior, what’s said and what happens next, also requires architecture. The intentional design and integration of branded value and story turn the wheel of discovery and engagement to the benefit of everyone from viewers to marketers. At some point the role of the first and second screen blurs in the background, creating one living and Tweeting ecosystem of story and experience.

How could aligning Twitter and TV advertising open up new opportunities for your business? Are you ready to take advantage of the second screen by giving your audience something to talk about? Please share your approach in the comments.


Brian Solis is the author of the book, What’s The Future of Business. He is also a principal analyst at Altimeter Group. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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