Social Engagements: Not all Twitter ads are created equal

The platform's head of business marketing on what kind of content best engages its users.


You’re reading Social Engagements, a series examining how social media and tech companies work with brands to engage audiences on their platforms. Last time, we talked with Snap’s global head of creative strategy. This week, we’re talking with Michelle Slater, head of business marketing at Twitter Canada.

We’ve all been there – yelling at the TV, when a character turns down a dark hallway, or our team loses in overtime or when a chef is making a dish not quite the way we would make it.

Corus Entertainment understands this tendency to speak to the television set even though it can’t speak back. But through a partnership with CIBC, the Canadian media company is giving fans of Food Network Canada a chance to engage with the brand and influence the content shown.


The #DestinationDishes campaign on Twitter Canada launched a few weeks ago and has already garnered 4-million views. The promotion on the popular social-media platform lets Canadians vote every week for what meal from around the world viewers want a Food Network personality to make. Once the Twitter poll results are in, the TV chef makes the dish in a short segment posted to Food Network’s Twitter account. A recent 55-second #DestinationDishes video of Dustin Gallagher making Tacos Al Pastor based on a Twitter Poll snagged more than 230,000 views on Twitter. Near the end of the fun cooking video viewers were served up a short ad by the sponsor, CIBC’s Aventura credit card, dubbed “The Traveller’s Travel Card.”

Michelle Slater“Eighty percent of Canadians who are on Twitter interact with brands on a regular basis,”  says Michelle Slater, head of business marketing at Twitter Canada.

These days, while racking up millions of views is still important, the real gold is in mining social media platforms for engagement. And Slater argues Twitter offers strong engagement to a bevy of Canadian brands, via tools such as its polls and videos.

While the company did not provide specific engagement metrics, it pointed to study it commissioned in 2017 by neuromarketing firm Neuro-Insight that read and analyzed second-by-second brain responses to content/advertising via its patented technology. The tests measured engagement and memory and found that both engagement (+72%) and memorability (+80%) were significantly higher on Twitter versus on TV alone. It also found that adding Twitter to the TV experience made TV event content more engaging (+28%) and memorable (+30%). And responses to TV ads were higher in terms of both engagement (+40%) and memorability (+28%) when Twitter was included in the experience.

“The most successful campaigns are driven by three specific factors, by having a brand that’s really engaged, having a creative agency that’s excited about using Twitter and also having a media agency that is expert on optimizing on Twitter,” Slater says.

Expanding, growing with the times

Twitter started out in 2006 as a platform where people could express their opinions on everything from then-U.S. President George W. Bush to Justin Timberlake bringing sexy back in 140 characters or less. It now allows users to write up to 280 characters and offers advertisers sponsored posts, videos and polls, as well as pre-roll ads for content providers on the platform, such as the NHL.

A promoted video featuring Tessa Virtue’s striking ad for Nivea Canada, for example, garnered more than 800,000 views and hundreds of likes on Twitter since April 1. But it’s not all likes on Twitter as the platform continues to heavily invest in fighting abusive trolls, and ensuring the platform is safe for brands to advertise on, says Slater.