Twitter Inc is looking to grow, in both user numbers and sales, in any way it can, and the firm senses a major opportunity in the upcoming 2016 US elections. The firm’s head of news, government and elections Adam Sharp is preparing for another major Democratic debate, due to take place in Des Moines Iowa on Saturday, and he has some insights into the way the social network can build off of the process.
According to the executive, who spoke with CBS News about the preparations, Twitter can help build a sense of massive community during the debate. In his view the firm’s platform will be able to make viewers feel as if they’#re watching the debate while seated “on the world’s largest couch.”
Twitter makes moves in politics
Twitter reckons it has a major opportunity as the world’s most important second screen. As viewers watch the debate live, the firm wants them to be active in a debate that will take place on its platform. The kind of dual engagement the firm is looking for could have major ramifications on the value of ads on its platform.
The Des Moines debate will be the first time that the firm has had an official presence in the 2016 US Presidential race. The debate will see front runner Hillary Clinton step up to the plate against other hopefuls, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.
During the debate the CBS moderators will choose certain tweets and broadcast them to add to the debate. Those in charge of running the process will also be able to use the real time data flowing in off of Twitter in order to ask questions based on what people on the social network really want to know.
The broadcast will also include charts on graphics tracking the real time feelings and reactions of those watching the debate on Twitter. Mr. Sharp reckons that “These charts will paint out live how the conversation is twisting and turning.” He says that “It really brings the process back to participatory democracy, rather than the debate just being a TV interview.”
Twitter looks for second screen engagement
If Twitter can keep the eyes of US viewers on both the debate and its social platform on Saturday, November 14, the firm will have put together a key example of its second screen strategy.
As far back as 2012 Twitter has been selling that strategy as a key part of its future. Back then CEO Dick Costolo said that Twitter is “complementary to news and media in a way that maybe other technologies haven’t been in the past.”
With user growth slowing, and money still hard to come by, Twitter needs a boost in order to show Wall Street that it’s still worth betting on. On Wednesday shares in the firm sunk 1.4 percent to $26.13. That’s just a shade above the price the firm went public for in 2013.