Twitter is looking for a good, old-fashion PR firm to help it connect better with the public. I’m sure many of you thought that Twitter was already well connected to the masses. Well, according to their CEO, Dick Costolo, Twitter still has a ways to go in becoming mainstream. Twitter is still looking for a mainstream voice (read: Brand). They don’t have one. It’s still seen as a cool social media play that appeals to the young and hip as well as those who want to be seen as young and hip. The problem is, Twitter still isn’t mainstream. Competition from the likes of Google+ and Facebook has also put Twitter under pressure to define a real brand voice and proactively reach out to the public.
Why the concern? Twitter is still losing cash and has only been technically profitable for 1 year because of a deal with Microsoft and Google. It made $25mil. in 2009. (of course, that is if you don’t take into account it still owed investor money of $155mil at the time). Twitter is still trying to prove it has a brand voice that mainstream will pay attention to in order to gain the confidence of advertisers and big brands that they are a relevant vehicle for advertising. (Funny how many of the internet elite shun the advertising industry and put them down for “interrupting” their customer’s experience with advertising, but they still look to them to be their knight in shinning armor when it comes to generating revenue. Very hypocritical to me, but that’s another point for another time.) Thus far, without mainstream credibility, Twitter will continue to bleed cash as many of the popular social networks and online sites. Eventually, all of these “free” platforms will have to figure a way to make money or otherwise, their pool of VC money will dry up. No one can keep funding a business that loses money forever, no matter how cool.
This factor is the driving force for Twitter to seek “traditional” marketing’s help. Believe it or not, traditional marketing is still very effective when it comes to reaching and communicating to the masses. Even Amazon needed old-fashioned billboards to help make it the powerhouse it is today. Twitter, like all of the other free platforms, are beginning to realize they have to start making money like a real business, and soon. Otherwise, their free ride will come to a close as investors can not keep pumping cash in without getting any return. Unlike the internet, there are limits to how much capital is available.
So, if the social media darling Twitter realizes they need to truly market to become profitable, it stands to reason, most other traditional businesses need to market even more aggressively. Without it, you eventually end up becoming irrelevant. Just ask MySpace.