Twitter looks like it is ramping up its staffing and operations in the UK: today it was announced that the company will be making a new hire, Lewis Wiltshire, who oversees social media for BBC Sport. The loss is a keen one for the BBC: among Wiltshire’s responsibilities, he was playing a big role in how the broadcaster would be covering the Olympics — taking place this year in London — across different platforms.
The announcement was made today by Twitter’s UK head, Tony Wang — fittingly enough, on Twitter — who described it as part of a team-building strategy at the social networking site.
Wiltshire will be starting his new job in March and, according to him (via Twitter), will “certainly be focusing on sport in the UK.”
Other details have yet to be made public, but the hire is coming just in time for London’s hosting of the Olympics this year. That is something that Wiltshire has already been focusing on from a social media standpoint for the BBC, so if any kind of Olympics strategy falls into his remit, he will have a head start on that.
We will be speaking with Tony Wang later today, to ask more questions. We will hopefully have more to add after that on the details of what Twitter plans to do around the Olympics and sports; and how/if this represents a new chapter in how the company plans to do more curation of information that passes through its network every day. That, at least, is certainly where an opportunity lies in hiring someone like this.
Meanwhile it is unclear right now who will be replacing Wiltshire at the BBC in his double-role of sports social media and Olympics platform coverage. We have reached out to the company and will update the post as we learn more.
Update: Wang had no comment on the 2012 Olympics but did tell me that Wiltshire’s hire is the first in an expansion of the company’s partner program in the UK; up to now hiring, he said, was focused not on this division but on ramping up sales and marketing people working in the company’s Sponsored Tweet service.
While Sponsored Tweets work more like ads, the partner group gets Twitter people to work with external businesses to get more out of Twitter — and for Twitter to subsequently have a stronger and more committed user base. “It’s all about helping partners in areas where we see a lot of twitter engagement already,” he said. Broadcastis one of those — when a popular show is on TV it trends on the social network. “So we work with our broadcast partners with creative integration and using twitter to drive viewership.”
Hiring someone with sports expertise is an obvious move for Twitter; sports is one of the most popular categories on the site, with several sporting events ranking among some of the most-trafficked of all events. Last week’s milestone effort from Tim Tebow for the Denver Broncos set a record for the most tweets per second: 9,420.