Five things we can learn from how Twitter runs its business

03 April 2018 -

Twitter workTwitter has grown rapidly into a leading social network platform, but not without a few hiccups. Insights reveals key lessons SMEs can learn from Twitter’s journey

Jermaine Haughton

1. Focus on inclusion and diversity

The appointment of well-regarded Candi Castleberry Singleton last year to lead Twitter’s equality efforts, replacing Jeffrey Siminoff as VP of diversity and inclusion, signals a renewed commitment to integrating more women, BAME and disabled employees into the heart of the workforce.

According to the organisation’s latest diversity report, one third (32.5%) of its leadership positions are filled by women, whilst ethnic minorities account for 10.1% of employees at the management level. This includes the hires of Debra L. Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks, and Jayanta Jenkins, the company’s global group creative director.

“We’re focused on powering positive change by fostering respectful conversations, creating deeper human connections, and encouraging diverse interactions across the company,” Singleton explained.

2. Get the C-suite to drive employee engagement

Since co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the helm at Twitter in 2015, the chief executive has taken a lead in engaging with the organisations 4,000+ employees to find out their primary motivations, outlook and concerns through regular internal surveys and encouraging staff feedback.

Every week employees have an opportunity to ask questions of the executive leadership team, allowing them to develop a deeper relationship and establish some trust in their bosses.

Examples of the survey’s questions includes staff feedback on whether the CEO was driving the right vision for the company, as well as assessing other factors such as team managers and work environment. Interestingly, the results of semi-annual surveys of employee engagement found Dorsey directly influences how employees feel about their jobs, even more so than their respective line managers.

3. Acknowledge mistakes and show commitment to solving issues

The past five years has seen Twitter’s systems criticised for online harassment, bots and misinformation, which has chased many users away from the platform.

Rather than ignore the platform’s faults, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has, as recently as this month, sought to take accountability and pledged to fix these issues.

“We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough,” Dorsey tweeted. “We’ve focused most of our efforts on removing content against our terms, instead of building a systemic framework to help encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking. This is the approach we need now.”

One reported move could be to use a media analytics firm such as Cortico to monitor the quality and health of conversations to determine its suitability to the social network. Twitter is also asking for ideas and help from its 330 million users, allowing consumers to submit proposals on how the site can encourage civil conversation, and offering funding for successful suggestions.

In October 2017, the company also introduced new guidelines and rules to prevent online abuse including the prohibitions on offensive usernames, hate groups and hateful images.

4. Make new recruits feel at home

From the moment individuals accept the job offer at Twitter, the San Francisco-based firm seeks to integrate the new hire as quickly as possible into the organisation’s culture.

Twitter’s 75-step “Yes to Desk” process sees various internal departments ensure all the essential tools are ready for the individual to get started straight away, including setting up desks, email addresses and providing documents explaining job expectations and the code of ethics.

The company’s onboarding scheme also seeks to evaporate the typical ‘new-kid-at-school’ nerves that affects all new employees by offering new hires a ‘happy hour’ with senior team having a manager join him/her at breakfast on the first day and ensuring the person has lunch with the colleagues from the outset.

Also, the regular Friday afternoon presentations by managers and colleagues allow new employees a valuable opportunity to get up to speed quickly with all the project managers and leads.

5. Embrace new growth opportunities: live streaming

No longer just a messaging platform, Twitter has invested in live streaming services to impress users, businesses and investors globally.

This month, Twitter announced sports deals that will see it stream football, golf, Formula 1 and tennis in the Asia Pacific region from major broadcasters such as Fox Sports Asia, Eleven Sports and Astro Malaysia.

This follows streaming agreements the company already has with the National Basketball Association (NBA), NASCAR, Major League Soccer (MLS), martial arts and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) to show clips and live matches. Furthermore, Twitter has linked up with TicToc, a live-streaming channel by Bloomberg Media, to showcase international daily news. Other collaborators include BuzzFeed and Viacom.

In-stream sponsorships support the monetisation of video content and short ads from content sponsors are also included in premium sports clips on Twitter. “This presents new opportunities for brands to reach passionate and engaged audiences by sponsoring premium video content at scale,” said Matt Derella, vice-president of global client solutions.

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