Sponsored Aggregation: Impacts to Twitter, Federated Media, Microsoft, and the Community

My job is to dissect new and moving parts into ways that business decision makers can understand, I hope to do just that:

Web Strategy Summary
Twitter is finally monetizing. Working with social media marketing vendor Federated Media, Microsoft has sponsored an aggregation tool that collects all the voices and tweets of executives. While none of the executives were paid, and it’s not influencing their editorial, these public tweets are being monetized by the brands involved. (Added this previous sentence, thanks to Dom in the comments) It’s featured from the Twitter homepage (top right column) this program called ExecTweet gives exposure to the voices of executives and promotes Microsoft’s campaign.

Getting the Facts
I just got off the phone with Matthew DiPietro the Marketing Manager at Federated Media, to understand how brands are now working with Twitter and how the money is moving about. While I believe that Twitter could best monetize by becoming a CRM system, they’ve instead decided to do a variation of what we call sponsored conversations.

Sponsored Aggregation
This isn’t the same as other sponsored conversations programs where the bloggers (or Twitters in this case) are paid, but instead the voices and tweets of executives are aggregated. The executives (including my own CEO @gcolony) is aggregated on this site called ExecTweets, and there is no change in the editorial from the twitter users. In some cases, these execs may not even know they were added to this aggregation page. Individuals can submit other executives to be added to the aggregation page, which will soon be the untethered voices of this executive zeitgeist.

The exectweets site has some voting features that help to allow users to vote up the top discussions, and FM will help curate some of the discussions they think are most relevant. They didn’t say it, but I’ll bet they’ll put emphasis on conversations that best match the Microsoft campaign that’s sponsoring it called “Because it’s everybody’s business

I’d apologize for creating yet another buzzword, but it’s my job to help define new trends, and there’s constant changes in this space, so I’m trying to use terms that people can understand, use and be actionable with.

Breakdown of all the moving parts:

Twitter Community
First and foremost, focus should be on the Twitter community. This small advertisement was featured on the site displaying ‘house ads’ that would promote Twitter features, which is almost a warm up for this Microsoft Ad. Being on the fish theme, I remember that some web designs happen slowly as to not shock the users. The saying “change the fishbowl water a little at a time” comes to mind.

Executives:
Executives that were selected or nominated to be in exectweets aggregation can now benefit from getting additional exposure and provide thought leadership amongst the land of 140. The downside now is their personal conversation are now associated with this campaign, and their general brand. I’d doubt that John Schwartz CEO of Sun would not want to be associated with this program, although I’m told that execs can opt-out.

Federated Media:
FM continues to impress me over the years, lead by John Battelle, they continue to develop innovative ways to sponsor influence, sponsor conversations, and insert brands directly into the editorial flow or develop brand association. Of course, they’ve had a few blunders in deployment but have a strong framework they use in their playbook regardless of the toolset. Their biggest challenge will be that they need to be careful not ensure that all programs are transparent and authentic, in order not to burn any stakeholders.

Microsoft: Tying in it’s campaign to reach executives and those who want to listen to executives, Microsoft benefits from associated branding by sponsoring the development and launch of this program. In theory, this should segment higher qualified clicks to their site “business if for everybody” as the link is on the exectweet site –not twitter.com. Update: I also learned that McCaan, Microsoft’s agency was a large part of this project.

Twitter: This nearly accidental microblogging network benefits by, well monetizing. This small ad takes up very little real estate and gives them the opportunity to trial methods to advertise. I strongly encourage them not to disrupt the editorial flow, and instead focus on the data portion, and monetize the firehose or develop products that brands need to manage discussions.

Impacts
While it’s going to gain buzz from being new, don’t expect click through rates to the Microsoft campaign to be high, as it’s not in the editorial stream of tweets. However, it could generate more qualified CTR from those that are interested in what executives have to say, and secondary benefits from association with the top leaders. Expect this to be a rotating inventory for future campaigns, as Federated Media has done innovative conversational marketing during the height of blogging.