Twitter debuted its first TV ads and a high-profile partnership with NASCAR this past weekend, in an effort to bolster the advertising potential of hashtag pages, and to introduce the service to new consumers.
During six quarter-minute TV spots, Twitter pointed viewers to NASCAR’s hashtag page, a curated feed of tweets and photos by drivers, pit crews, commentators, and fans before, during, and after the Pocono 400 race.
“Throughout the weekend – but especially during the race – a combination of algorithms and curation will surface the most interesting Tweets to bring you closer to all of the action happening around the track, from the garage to the victory lane,” wrote Twitter’s Omid Ashtari, during the lead-up to the event.
In an effort, perhaps, not to overwhelm unfamiliar users, the page administrators chose to highlight only 13 tweets on the day of the race.
“Tough day for the 18 but proud of the 20 guys n @joeylogano,” reads a congratulatory tweet, by driver Kyle Busch, that was picked up by the page. “Heck of a race bud!”
Some analysts have suggested that Twitter’s push could be intended to fortify its position in social media advertising following Facebook‘s anticlimactic IPO earlier last month. Others have pointed out that Twitter breaks away from Facebook Pages and AOL’s once-popular keywords system by convincing fans to “do the hard work” for brands.
However, Reuters noted that in at least one high-profile incident, the attempt to promote a company hashtag backfired horribly when #McDstories was co-opted by users spreading horror stories about unpleasant experiences at the fast food chain.
Hashtag pages and an advertising push aren’t the only changes seen lately at Twitter. The company recently rolled out a new version of its bird logo and is currently moving from one physical location to another in San Francisco.
In a case of awkward timing, Twitter ended up in the news again the day after the race, when an Italian study purported to show that many followers of corporate entities’ accounts on the site were populated with fake followers.