Nicole Buckler, Editor of Mediastreet.ie, speaks to Stephen McIntyre, MD of Twitter Ireland, about why Irish businesses – more than ever before – need a presence on the social media platform. How did you end up in your current role for Twitter? I’ve been at Twitter for four years and there are two parts to my job: VP of EMEA sales (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and MD of Twitter Ireland. The first part is focused on helping advertisers around the region, from Norway to the U.K. to South Africa, make better use of Twitter.
How did you end up in your current role for Twitter?
I’ve been at Twitter for four years and there are two parts to my job: VP of EMEA sales (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and MD of Twitter Ireland. The first part is focused on helping advertisers around the region, from Norway to the U.K. to South Africa, make better use of Twitter. The second is focused on Ireland, where I run our EMEA Headquarters and represent Twitter in the Irish market.
Before Twitter, I worked at Google from 2005 – when the office only had 200 employees – till 2012. I spent almost a decade abroad before that, studying in the U.S., and working as an engineer in the mobile industry in the U.K., Portugal, and Mexico.
What does your usual day look like?
I have three kids under five, including a newborn baby, so my days start early. I often cycle to work, which is good for me but bad for my co-workers, who get to see me in Lycra leggings.
One of the things I like most about my job is the variety. I might work on a partner deal in Poland, a U.K. business review, and architectural designs for our new office building, all in the same day.
How does the Irish Twitter market differ to other markets?
Ireland is one of the highest usage markets in the world per capita. Twitter is great for connecting you to your interests, so whether that interest is news or sport or fashion or music or economics, there’s a large Irish Twitter community out there for you. The recent Leaders’ Debates during the General Election trended globally on Twitter and more than 90% of sitting TDs are active on Twitter. We see conversations about every possible topic on Twitter in Ireland, from global news stories like the terrorist attacks in Belgium to distinctly Irish events like the GAA Club Championships. When events happen in the world, they also happen on Twitter. The #latelateshow hashtag lights up every Friday night because it enables people who are physically separated to share a common experience. #HomeToVote became a global phenomenon for the same reason.
Is the Irish business plan different to the rest of the world?
Everyone in our Irish office, including myself, works on other markets as well. We’re the EMEA headquarters and our scope is broad. We’re the largest office outside the US, with more than twenty functions (sales, finance, engineering, etc.), and we’re home to many of our most senior international leaders. One notable recent hire was the former RTE journalist and Storyful CEO Mark Little. And we’re still hiring!
How important is Twitter to the Irish ecommerce landscape?
From the very early days of Twitter, businesses – from local cafes to global airlines – have used it to have a voice online and to engage with their customers. That was before we even had ads on the platform. And thousands of Irish companies use Twitter for free today to communicate with their customers. For companies that want to drive specific marketing objectives, such as website clicks, leads, or app installs, we have a comprehensive suite of creative, targeting, and measurement products. You can find out more on http://business.twitter.com.
I have noticed in the U.S. that Twitter offers a “buy” button from tweets. Are business owners using it?
This was a test we ran in the US to shorten the distance between people talking about a product and being able to buy it. We’ve learned a lot about people’s buying behaviour on Twitter but we aren’t announcing any expansion beyond the US.
What would you change about the Irish business landscape?
While there are always things to improve, it’s important to remember what we’ve achieved too. The tech part of the Irish economy has grown dramatically in size and scope over the past decade. And it’s not just multinationals, it’s local startups too. In fact, I think they’re two sides of the same coin and they benefit each other. I moved back to Ireland in 2005 because of the opportunities in this sector. I know hundreds of people who either moved to Ireland or returned to Ireland because of the tech sector.
Are Irish markets a tougher sell than anywhere else (or easier?)
Ireland suffered a more prolonged and deeper recession than most countries around the world. Export-focused businesses which embraced the online world fared better. We share a language and have deep cultural ties with two of the most advanced internet economies in the world, the U.S. and U.K. This gives us a huge advantage. While there are many pockets of excellence here, the typical Irish business has been slower to embrace new technologies over the past decade than its U.S. or U.K. peers.
Are you a workaholic? Multitasker? Slacker? What’s your working style?
Most people in senior tech jobs work reasonably long hours and I’m no exception. But I have a wife and three young kids. To be effective and happy in the long-term, you have to pace yourself at work, get some sleep, get some exercise. I rarely work at weekends, for example. It’s almost impossible to get that balance right in any given week. But over the course of a year there should be some balance or something important in your life – work, family, health – is likely to suffer.
I try not to be a multi-tasker. The most productive people are rarely multi-taskers. Hard work doesn’t guarantee success but being lazy guarantees failure. The best people I’ve worked with aren’t necessarily those with the highest IQs or those that work the longest hours, they’re the ones who do things without being asked and who make good use of their time.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
I like the autonomy and variety. Twitter is the most powerful communications tool of our time and it’s increasingly relevant to global and Irish culture. Yet it’s also small enough for any individual person to make a big personal contribution. That combination is rare.
What do business owners and marketers need to know about how Twitter can help them sell their stuff?
Twitter is big in Ireland so it is very likely that your customers and prospects are there, talking about you or your competitors. Every business should be on Twitter. It’s free to get started.
For businesses that want to drive sales directly, we have many tools that help. For example, our measurement integration with DoubleClick will include a new attribution model that shows how Twitter ads drive conversions. We continue to roll out more cost-per-action pricing improvements, so you’re only paying for the actions you care about (e.g. downloads, video views, website clicks, etc.).
Video on Twitter is hot. Video views rose 220x from December 2014 to December 2015. The Promoted Video ad format is an increasingly popular choice for advertisers. Many businesses are also using Periscope to integrate live video into their campaigns.
Where is Twitter headed in the future?
Twitter is an iconic product and we have a special place in global culture. Kanye West asked Mark Zuckerberg for $1 billion on Twitter! Much of the drama of the current U.S. election season is happening on Twitter. But we can refine that iconic product and make it easier to use. For example, the terminology (@ symbols, hashtags, etc.) can be intimidating for new users and we will address such obstacles and make it easier for people to get value from Twitter on day one. Our live-streaming app, Periscope, has been a big success and you’ll see more investments from us in live video. We’ve grown from 0 to $2.2 billion in revenue in 5 years and we now have more than 130,000 paying advertisers. Our core business is strong.
The essence of Twitter is, and will remain, live: live commentary, live connections, live conversations.
You can find out more on http://business.twitter.com.