Twitter’s Bain: Facebook May Have More Scale, We Have More Engagement

Adam Bain, Twitter’s global revenue president, took the stage at Federated Media’s Conversational Marketing Summit a few hours after Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) announced a deeper integration of its iOS with the microblog service. In a Q&A with FM founder John Battelle, Bain was asked if the deal was done since Apple doesn’t really have a social media strategy. “I don’t want to speak for Apple,” Bain said.

With the Apple news out of the way, Battelle and Bain then chatted about Twitter’s evolving advertising programs.

By way of an update, Promoted Tweets started a little over a year ago with six marketers — it now has 600. “Part of the thing that got me to the company, I had a Jerry Maguire moment” — John Battelle interjected with “Was that ‘Show me the money?’ or ‘You complete me?'” Bain, laughing, said “Neither!” He went on to explain that it was the relative absence of engagement throughout the digital advertising that made Twitter seem promising.

Battelle steered the conversation back to the notion of “scale” and how Facebook seems to have higher scale. “I feel bad for them because they’re going to be compared to the high engagement rates we have. Facebook has a ton of pageviews. What Twitter has is engagement and that’s what our ad products are geared around.”

Only a small amount of influencers can move the needle on Twitter and there are a mass of people who consume tweets but aren’t actually creating anything. “80 percent of engagement are people clicking on a tweet and the remaining 20 percent is a retweet or favoriting a tweet,” Bain said. “Those are powerful signals. Retweets are retweeting messages from marketers because they look at this as content, not ads. That means we have a very powerful marketing platform.” Bain went on to note that after Stephen Colbert tweeted about the oil spill and Barack Obama tweeted “Yes we did,” the two other most popular retweets were a McDonald’s message.