Media firms are excelling at social: Reach grows by 236%

social-media-reach

Getting any engagement from social media is a tough game, with only 1 percent of messages having any kind of real impact.

But, according to a new study released by SocialFlow, media and entertainment companies are doing better than ever with their social media marketing.

The study — which takes its findings from over eight million organic posts — shows that the average reach per post for media companies publishing to Facebook increased 67 percent from March 2014 through March 2015.

“It’s clear that media companies are producing more, and better, content than most marketers,” Jim Anderson, CEO at SocialFlow, told me. “Just look at your own News Feed and you will probably see that.”

In that same period, total reach for media companies grew by 236 percent, and SocialFlow saw a jump in engagement too. Across the year, average engagement per post on Facebook for media companies was up 44 percent.

socialflow-media-entertainment-socialMedia and entertainment companies, it seems, are not only embracing Facebook, they are excelling at it.

“The top-performing 10 percent of posts on social media drive about 80 percent of the total reach,” Anderson said. “And nine out of 10 of those top-performing posts come from media and entertainment companies.”

Media companies that use Twitter saw a more moderate increase in engagement over the year — just 3 percent — but that is in the face of a much higher volume of tweets from media publishers: up 98 percent on last year. Increased engagement of any kind in a space that has twice as much noise is still an impressive gain.

But there could be more to those findings that meets the eye.

“Good content deserves to be seen again,” Anderson said. “Too much content is competing for a fixed amount of consumer attention, and the reality is that most people don’t see your posts the first time.”

How are companies dealing with this issue? Content recycling.


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While publishing similar tweets at various times per day is a fairly common practice, SocialFlow’s study details the results of recycling posts on Facebook, and the results are interesting.

Content that is posted twice gains 1.7 times the reach and 1.5 times the engagement than a single post. And posting the same content three times increases that to 2.1 times reach and 1.7 times engagement respectively.

socialflow-facebook-post-recycling

“Television networks learned many decades ago the value of reruns,” Anderson said. “Savvy social media managers are starting to embrace the recycling of content as well.”

But the report errs on the side of caution.

Recycling posts can be seen as “spammy,” and marketers need to be aware of the effect that a poor reuse strategy can have on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm — the “secret sauce” that determines whether your content will be seen in people’s feeds or not.

“Facebook’s EdgeRank doesn’t punish recycled posts, it punishes bad posts,” Anderson said. “You can double your reach by taking a high-quality post and publishing it three times.”

The study — the second in SocialFlow’s series on Organic Publishing to Social Networks — is available now.

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Silicon Valley invades and transforms Cannes Lions, advertising’s biggest dealmaking party

Facebook on the beach at Cannes Lions. Suck it, Menlo Park.
If you’re not reaching, engaging, and monetizing customers on mobile, you’re likely losing them to someone else. Register now for the 8th annual MobileBeat, July 13-14, where the best and brightest will be exploring the latest strategies and tactics in the mobile space.

Every year, the biggest names in advertising and marketing gather along the French Riviera for a confab called the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

A few years ago, Silicon Valley’s ad-driven Internet giants discovered Cannes. And in the same way tech is transforming the ad and marketing game, Silicon Valley changed the look and feel of Cannes Lions.

Now, the rows of private beaches are rented out by tech’s biggest names whose logos are plastered just about everywhere you turn during this 7-day conference. The day of broadcasting giants hashing out deals over martini-fueled lunches have been replaced by non-stop swilling of Corona at the Google Beach Hut where you can hang with YouTube star DJ BBQ.

Its tough work. But fortunately, thousands of tech employees are willing to fall on their swords each year and brave the wilds of Cannes in pursuit of the partnerships and deals that will keep the cookie jar back at the home office stuffed with wads of cash.

Here are a few pictures from my brief visit this week, just to give you idea of how thoroughly the tech world dominates the Cannes Lions landscape.

Toto, we're not in Mountain View anymore. Periscope had a real periscope that people could use to Periscope. Ha. Tinder sponsored one of the main networking events. Google's beach cabana. Suck it, Mountain View. Back in Mountain View, thousands of Googlers are hard at work coding. Tech, tech, tech, tech. Wine. Spotify in the house. LinkedIn was looking for love in Cannes. Twitter's porch hangout thing. Tech, tech, tech, tech. Box sponsored the press stuff. Microsoft was showing off the HoloLens, which one day will help sell more soap. SoftBank's Pepper robot wants you to buy more Frosted Flakes. Back in Oakland, many Pandora employees are hard at work. Tumblr yacht, just because they can. Pinterest was keeping a lower profile. TubeMogul, so you didn't have to walk to get more champagne. Evan Spiegel talked Snapchat and jet lag. Salesforce's tent on the beach.

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DialogTech now tells companies how many dollars an inbound call is worth

DialogTech-mobile-marketing
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Despite what you may think, most purchases are not made on a mobile phone. Well — not in the way you might expect in the age of the smartphone.

Three quarters of us use mobile devices to research what we want to buy before moving to a desktop device to make the purchase. The most recent research into mobile advertising backs this up, with 73 percent of people choosing to “look at” or “investigate” products based on a mobile ad, but not actually to engage with the advertisement or move to purchase.

But that’s not all, as infomercials are often proud of saying.

Many of us like to actually talk to a person before making our purchase, especially when it comes to restaurant bookings, hotels, travel, automotive, and other local services.

That’s right. Talk.

The problem this causes for marketers? Being able to track revenue attribution to that phone call.

Today, DialogTech has launched its Mobile Marketing solution to provide complete inbound phone call attribution, and real-time control, for mobile advertising sources. It also provides marketers with accurate keyword-level data for Google call extensions, helping businesses to really understand if their investment in advertising is paying off.

I asked Irv Shapiro, CEO and CTO of DialogTech, why the smartphone is better at helping consumers at the “top of the funnel.”

“Some mobile purchase use cases are simple and pose little risk to the buyer,” Shapiro said. “Ordering a taxi. Purchasing music. Buying airline tickets. But there are a host of considered purchases — things that are complex, infrequent, or expensive in nature — where buyers want more detailed information; life insurance, a new car, an online degree, or senior care services to name a few.”

These considered purchases create a more complex buying process.

“The path to purchase for these goods and services has more stops along the way across mobile, desktop and offline touch points,” Shapiro said. “Today, mobile can be a good way to create awareness at the top of the funnel, but when consumers get serious and dig in to do their homework, the desktop is a more efficient device.”

It isn’t simply the case that the buying process requires more complexity. Shapiro believes that there is another underlying issue.

“Many purchase transactions are still complex on mobile devices,” Shapiro said. “There are outliers — Amazon’s ‘buy with one click’ button comes to mind. However, the act of filling out a registration form with address information, credit card information, working through a multi-step checkout line … it’s just too cumbersome on a mobile device for many scenarios. For this reason people hop on a desktop or make a phone call.”

That phone call is simply a click away for most people, thanks to “click-to-call” features in mobile advertisements.


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When Google first added the ability to allow consumers to call directly from an advertisement using their smartphones, the early results were impressive: 42 percent of people had clicked to call, and the average conversation length was an impressive six minutes.

Despite this native capability within Google, tracking revenue attribution across that and other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and display ads continues to be an issue for marketers. And there are other issues too, such as allowing local offices to deal with nearby customers without losing the ability to track those interactions nationally.

In other words, it is tough marketing to a mobile audience, and especially tough when they want to talk to you.

DialogTech for Mobile Marketing is a comprehensive solution for tracking, controlling, and optimizing inbound phone calls generated from any mobile source, including popular mobile advertising channels such as Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, display, mobile games/apps, email, and more.

DialogTech-screenshot

It allows marketers to pinpoint exactly what mobile marketing source (including channel, campaign, advertisement, keyword search, website, app, email, video, etc.) drove each caller. It also optimizes the user’s mobile advertising strategy, focusing on what is actually driving revenue.

Importantly, it provides call analytics for Google paid search call extensions, including accurate keyword-level attribution data — information that can make the difference for any marketer that needs deep analytics into every caller and conversation.

Importantly, the solution allows for local call routing, an option that could be paramount for national organizations.

“Our customers use geo-location technology to determine a customer’s precise location using cell tower triangulation (callers must opt in to share their location),” Shapiro said. “The results of that lookup can then be used to route the caller to the closest store, dealer or location.”

That capability could be used to drive different campaigns to the call center dealing with that particular marketing effort.

“In essence, we provide our customers with the ability to create custom routing definitions and workflows to make sure the call gets to the best person in the organization to close the sale or service the customer,” Shapiro said.

DialogTech-phone-call-dataDialogTech has a few other tricks up its sleeve too.

It includes Conversation Insight, a platform that records, transcribes, and analyzes every voice conversation, allowing marketers to run searches to pinpoint precise keywords and phrases that indicate caller intent and lead quality.

And it integrates caller analytics data with third-party applications such as bid management, CRM, and web analytics solutions.

As I discovered in my study of how people complain on social media to brands, there are entire generations of consumers that would rather continue the conversation in person or by talking with someone on the phone. Surprisingly, younger generations want this level of personal interaction more than most.

“Many big names in tech are embracing the call channel,” Shapiro said. “Facebook and Twitter — social platforms with user bases that skew younger — have both introduced call buttons to allow businesses to engage via voice with their fans and followers. Google’s total estimated conversions platform allows advertisers to incorporate conversion data from calls and in store visits, two channels where people can talk to someone.”

Google themselves are clear that if you include a click-to-call option, it will improve your chances of being found by a consumer.

As it says on the associated Google Adwords help page, ad extensions (such as the call extension) are factored into how Ad Rank is calculated. If two competing ads have the same bid and quality, the ad with the more relevant extensions will likely appear above the one without them.

“In terms of Google call extensions, it’s interesting to look at how Google’s ad formats have evolved over time,” Shapiro said. “What started as three-line text ads now in some cases can include call buttons, directions, maps, hours of operation, social media metrics, and customer reviews. The ad has essentially become the landing page in many cases.”

Mobile searches in the U.S. generated over 38 billion calls in 2014, and are expected to nearly double to 73 billion by 2018, according to leading research firm BIA/Kelsey.

“We believe the act of talking to someone is basic human nature. It’s what sets us apart as a species,” Shapiro said.

DialogTech for Mobile Marketing is available today.

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Fueled by outrage: Why social media ultimately drives us apart

I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!
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You don’t hear it said too often anymore, but there was once a time not long ago when advocates of social media talked about how it would bring us all together. They told us to “engage in the conversation” and explained how powerful it was that anyone could “talk” with anyone else across the world. This new global discussion was supposed to foster dialogue that would educate us all and help us see each other as humans.

Clearly it didn’t turn out that way.

If anything, social media has driven us further apart. On top of the filter bubbles that push us toward more extreme and entrenched beliefs, social media has become an environment fueled by outrage.

Outrage is viral, outrage is easy, and with anonymity — or at least distance — screaming your outrage on social media or even launching personal attacks carries no consequences. Expressing outrage makes people feel good, allowing them to believe they are doing something to bring attention to things they think are problems. Outrage often masquerades as strength and action, and requires no admission of vulnerability or weakness. Outrage sells pageviews. And outrage is the easiest emotion to elicit.

Think about how social media platforms are designed. They are often anonymous, allowing people to yell, scream, and name call, all while remaining safe in hiding. Even when anonymity is not allowed, the physical distance between participants means nobody has to ever face one another.

The short message nature of many of the platforms also serve to discourage in-depth conversations while being perfectly designed for expressing outrage. Consider Twitter’s 140 character limit. It’s virtually impossible to have an intelligent debate in 140 characters, but the format works just fine for name calling, ad hominem attacks, and expressing outrage. Add in the fact that it is largely anonymous, and allows anyone to address anyone else, and you have a nearly perfect platform for outrage and bullying.

Compare social media conversations to real life conversations. What percentage of the people who tweet nasty things at celebrities, or even at other regular people with whom they disagree, would say these things to their face? Maybe one percent?

How many people would start real life conversations the same way they start online conversations? Imagine meeting someone at a party, “Hi, I’m Francisco, and I’M OUTRAGED MONSANTO IS POISONING US WITH GMOs!!! THE GOVERNMENT IS OPPRESSING US!!! PEOPLE USE WORDS I FIND INSENSITIVE!!! AND IF YOU DISAGREE YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE!!!” and then having five people standing nearby repeat, “YES!!! I’M ALSO OUTRAGED MONSANTO IS POISONING US WITH GMOs!!! THE GOVERNMENT IS OPPRESSING US!!! PEOPLE USE WORDS I FIND INSENSITIVE!!! AND IF YOU DISAGREE YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE!!!” Sane people don’t talk this way in real life but this is exactly how people communicate on social media when they post and repost links about the latest thing that has them outraged, and then follow it up by shouting down anyone who dares to disagree.

The end result of all of this outrage is that valuable, well reasoned conversations disappear from social media. As Sam Altman of Y-Combinator said recently, “Most smart people I know have decided to just not discuss anything sensitive because of the Internet lynch mob looking for any slight mistake.” Fittingly, in reply to his tweet, some people attacked Altman for what they viewed as his insensitive use of the word “lynch mob” while others accused those leaving the public conversation of being cowards — essentially they were outraged that outrage is driving the reasonable people away.

As outrage has come to be the dominant culture of social media, what started as a way to connect people has largely become a way to attack people or simply express anger. Like a giant dysfunctional family consumed with animosity and who thinks yelling is the appropriate way to communicate, social media interactions are far more likely to consist of expressions of outrage, accusations, and name calling instead of conversations. Ultimately, what was supposed to bring us together is serving to drive us apart.

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Twitter tests dedicated pages and curated collections for products and places

Two_collection_screens
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Twitter is testing new features to make its social feed more shoppable.

Today the company announced two new beta features, Product and Place Pages and Collections. Both functions will enable users to surface and share more branded content.

In tandem with the announcement, Twitter is showing off a host of launch partners including Elle Magazine, Tech Crunch, DJ Steve Aoki, YouTube star Michelle Phan, and actress Reese Witherspoon.

Product and Place Pages will give certain products or places a dedicated page featuring information related to the product like its pricing, website, images, video, and tweets. Consumers will also be able to buy, and book appointments for services, directly from the product page, though some products will redirect consumers to the product’s website.

Product and place pages will be accompanied by Collections, a way for users to create and share collections of products. To give you a sense of what this Collections is about, here is the Game of Thrones collection:

Twitter Product Collections

The Game of Thrones Product Collection is just a feed of Game of Thrones related paraphernalia with links to their product page. Anyone can create product and place collections, because of course this is all about generating buzz among users for products.

Twitter’s two new products seem like variations on features that other Internet companies have messed around with. Product Pages feels quite reminiscent of Facebook’s Business Page, while the Product Collections features feels a bit Pinterest-y — a place to collect stuff you love.

Both Pinterest and Facebook are currently testing buy-buttons of their own.

Twitter doesn’t say whether this new service will come at a cost to businesses, but it’s easy to see how this could generate a nice little bit of revenue for the company if it did decide to take a cut of sales.

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What Twitter is trying (but failing) to tell Wall Street, according to investor Chris Sacca

Chris Sacca
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Twitter shareholder and Lowercase Capital investor Chris Sacca loves to see the social media company hustling to roll out product enhancements. But after all of the hubbub about chief executive Dick Costolo stepping down and being temporarily replaced by cofounder Jack Dorsey, Sacca thinks Twitter can do a better job communicating to Wall Street.

Sacca took a break from tweeting today to write a blog post communicating what he thinks Dick and Jack have been trying to say — about why Jack is staying on as a board member, and why Twitter isn’t planning any major strategy changes.

More broadly, Sacca suggested, Twitter can do a better job of communicating. To use his words, “there is an absence of storytelling at Twitter.”

Specifically, Twitter needs to think of what investors think about the company:

While I don’t think Wall Street should be steering the ship,” Sacca wrote, “their feedback is immensely valuable. Every time an analyst asks a question, Twitter executives should be asking themselves, “Which cell on her Excel spreadsheet does she have in mind and how can I help her empirically understand the promise of Twitter?” To date, Wall Street has considered Twitter management to be tone-deaf to their questions. So this can easily get better.

But Sacca finds news about announcements about new features and experiments with updates — like using a heart instead of a star as the “favorite” symbol — heartening.

And that makes it easy to understand why Sacca remains a Twitter fan. Sacca:

Will the new stuff impact results in Q3 and Q4? If the company is able to get all of this launched broadly soon, I have no doubt we will start to see the user count and the revenue picture improve. (*Personal opinion, I am not your stock broker, nor your doctor, lawyer, etc.) This is why I remain very bullish on the stock and hope that the company remains independent.

Twitter stock today closed at $34.66, down just 3 cents from yesterday.


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Ad dollars seek out native mobile apps to capture users where they live

ad-dollars-apps-mobile
If you’re not reaching, engaging, and monetizing customers on mobile, you’re likely losing them to someone else. Register now for the 8th annual MobileBeat, July 13-14, where the best and brightest will be exploring the latest strategies and tactics in the mobile space.

Advertising dollars have always followed consumers to the platforms they spend the most time on. As users flock to mobile, where exactly will ad spend fall? Signs point to native apps rather than mobile web. But not all apps are created equal, and questions remain about which ones are poised to harvest the estimated $28 billion that will be spent on mobile ads in 2015.

According to Comscore’s U.S. Mobile App Report, users now spend more time on native mobile apps than the entire web, mobile, and desktop web combined. Ad spend is following suit; eMarketer projects that mobile will absorb about half of digital ad spend in 2015, and overtake web in 2016. Ad dollars on social networks are slightly ahead of this trend, with mobile platforms having absorbed about 55 percent of social media advertising revenue and will take a projected two-thirds by 2018, creating a $9.1 billion dollar social-mobile market (BusinessInsider).

time-spent-online

Above: Image source: Exicon Global; data source: Comscore U.S. Mobile App Report

Image Credit: Exicon

emarketer

These ad dollars will undoubtedly flow to Facebook and Google, which, according to eMarketer, currently account for over two-thirds of mobile ad spend (with Google at about 50 percent of the total) and are still growing. However, people actually spend much more time on non-Google and non-Facebook properties, so advertising spend is currently proportionally low on these platforms.

flurry

We see an opportunity for ad spend and monetization to shift to apps that users spend more time on, particularly messaging and gaming, which together consume 41.5 percent of a user’s attention on mobile compared to the 35 percent of time spent on Google and Facebook (Flurry). Ideally, a marketer could create an official app for their brand to engage the attention of its fans (instead of on Facebook or other leased social networks) and attract a proportional amount of ad spend to monetize the app.

Brands looking to advertise on mobile, as well as app developers who want to host ads and monetize their apps, should know about two key ways that native apps enable high-return advertising.


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First, native apps give users a smooth experience, great functionality, and integration with device hardware like the camera, GPS location, and more. Apps get unique retention tools as well, getting a permanent home on the user’s phone and access to the all-important push notification. Over the past four years, we’ve seen big players switch from mobile HTML5 to native apps for this reason. Facebook and LinkedIn cited better app performance and speed, while Twitter explained that “Our most engaged users are generally those who access Twitter via our mobile applications … we plan to continue to develop and improve our mobile applications to further drive user adoption.

Second, native supports rich ads. Banners on mobile sites were previously the reigning form factor, but those days are over. Rich native platforms let publishers break out of the rigid ad unit and create content-based advertising that is more user-friendly and integrated with its context. Facebook recently announced that native ads served on its mobile ad network, Audience Network, get seven times higher CPMs than standard banner ads. As an industry, we’re still watching for new experiences to emerge and waiting to see which ones will be most effective. Video is the new golden child of advertising, highly effective in part because the ad is the experience itself.  Social platforms have led the way by embedding ads directly into content, leading to higher engagement with the paid content.

Not all native mobile apps have users repeatedly returning to their app for conversation, sharing, or human connection in the same way that social platforms do. If they lack this rich contextual foundation, they may struggle to support engaging content-based ads. Developers who are in this boat but want to participate in the mobile advertising boom of the next few years should consider adding mobile messaging features to their apps.

Mobile messaging boasts even higher engagement and retention than other native apps. According to Flurry, chat apps have almost five times the daily session frequency compared to the average of all other apps. Similarly, one-year retention rates for messaging apps are in the 60 percent range, while other apps on average have just an 11 percent retention rate.

flurry2


steve-chungSteve Chung is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Frankly Inc. (TSXV: TLK). After holding an analyst role at Goldman Sachs in NY, he has held senior leadership roles in the technology sector, including Chief Strategy Officer of CDNetworks (sold to KDDI), Executive Vice President of KIT Digital, Inc., Investment Director of BlueRun Ventures and Chief Operating Officer of We Heart It. His experience with both startup and large enterprises has led to his expertise in helping companies grow globally. He has a passion for connecting U.S. and Asian markets through mobile, media, and Internet technology. Mr. Chung holds an AB from Harvard University and an MBA from Stanford University.


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Twitter acquires machine learning startup Whetlab, will kill the service on July 15

twitter learning moment

Twitter today announced it has acquired machine learning startup Whetlab. As a result of the deal, the startup’s closed beta will be shut down on July 15, 2015.

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Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is stepping down this month, but he only found out last week

Outgoing Twitter CEO Dick Costolo speaks to Bloomberg's Brad Stone.
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SAN FRANCISCO — Dick Costolo didn’t know he would be replaced as Twitter chief executive until the three-hour meeting with the Twitter board in June at which his fate was decided.

“We went into the meeting open to having a discussion about what the timing would be,” Costolo said.

Costolo made the revelation today onstage at the Bloomberg Technology Conference here.

Costolo and the board started succession planning at the end of 2014, he said, and discussions got more serious at the June meeting of the company’s board. At that meeting, the board decided they would rather make an announcement and do the search out in the open, rather than try to do a stealth search and then try to manage the rumors as they leaked out.

Twitter announced on June 11 that Costolo would be stepping down as CEO, to be replaced by Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey. While his role as chief executive looks a little lackluster now — especially to Wall Street — he actually accomplished a lot in five years at Twitter’s helm. He may not be getting a fat severance package, but he should have a nice chunk of stock to cushion his fall.

What’s next for Twitter? Costolo, who will remain on the board, remained optimistic and upbeat.

“We have the blessing of working at a company that everybody cares about … I’d much rather work there than at a place where people don’t care.”

Yes, there are critics, but he didn’t engage with them when prompted by his onstage interviewer, Bloomberg’s Brad Stone.

“It’s all a rich tapestry,” Costolo said, when asked about Chris Sacca’s lengthy manifesto on how Twitter could do better.

Costolo says he has an excellent relationship with Dorsey, and that they have dinner every Tuesday night.

“I’m just delighted he’s stepping into this role,” Costolo said. “He has this clarity of thinking about the product that doesn’t bring the conceptual baggage other people bring to it.”

Is the board’s search for a new CEO just a cover story to allow Dorsey to become the permanent CEO?

“The board is legitimately doing a search,” Costolo said.

“The pace of execution this year has been more than satisfying to me,” he said, regarding Twitter’s product development. That’s an improvement over last year, when Costolo said in a quarterly earnings call that he was not pleased with how fast Twitter was able to roll out new products.

“We have things rolling out this fall that I’m over the moon about,” he said, and added that he and Dorsey are in alignment on the company’s future direction.

“We like the strategy that’s in place, and we like the team that’s in place.”

Other than serving on Twitter’s board, Costolo has no specific plans for what he’s going to do next. He is ruling one thing out, however.

“I don’t think it would be a smart move for me to return to standup comedy,” he said. “I get heckled for free now.”

 

 

 

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