Exclusive: Twitter execs fly in to lay groundwork for Aussie office

Twitter is finalising preparations for its Australian office with a team of senior executives in Australia this week for a second round of high-level “meet and greets”.

Twitter Australia tweet

The Twitter executive team, includes some of the company’s leading executives, are not only meeting with top-level industry figures from media and sporting organisations but is also rumoured to be interviewing for key Australian appointments ahead of its opening later this year.

The trip is the second visit by members of the social media giant to Australia in just three months and comes only a week after Prime Minister Julia Gillard called on the company to be more active against cyber bullying in Australia.

Mumbrella can reveal the executives who are visiting Australia on a two week visit are: Twitter’s head of international strategy Katie Stanton, Omid Ashtari the company’s head of sport, Karen Wickre editorial director of Twitter and Mike Brown head of international development, who led a previous delegation to Australia in November.

Twitter spokesperson Rachel Bremer confirmed there were executives in the country but said: “We have nothing to announce about our plans for Australia at this time.”

It is understood members of the team have already held confidential briefings with senior executives at a variety of media outlets and sporting codes and will have more this week.

Among the senior media figures to have had meetings are: ABC Managing Director Mark Scott, Fairfax Group Editorial Director Garry Linnell, editor of The Australian newspaper Clive Mathieson and editor-in-chief Ninemsn Hal Crawford.

Mumbrella understands Twitter has been briefing the senior executive teams of these major media organisations and also the major television networks. Many of those who have met with the Twitter executives have declined to comment on discussions.

Managing Director of the ABC Mark Scott confirmed he had meetings with representatives from Twitter currently visiting Australia.

“There is extraordinary research around the power of Twitter as a news distribution tool,” said Scott. “The ABC wants to get its news and content wherever the audience is. Twitter understands that strategy and acknowledges the ABC as a leader in the social space.”

As Mumbrella reported yesterday, the ABC’s stories are among the most shared Australian news content on Twitter.

Editor-in-chief Ninemsn Hal Crawford also confirmed he had had meetings but would not be drawn on the content of discussions.

“We had great meeting with them, really great meetings,” said Crawford.

“Social media is very important for us at Ninemsn and we want to get under the hood and understand what makes people share things and to have a close association with Twitter is great for that.”

Others who have met the team say the company is finalizing its Australian appointments and unlike its counterpart, Facebook is rumoured to be focusing on growth rather than sales at the outset.

One senior media executive who declined to be named told Mumbrella: “they are definitely here on a recruiting drive”.

As a key part of its strategy Twitter is understood to be building partnerships with leading media outlets and a sports partnership coordinator who will focus on expanding the social media network through the NRL, AFL, Cricket and other sporting codes.

AFL spokesperson Patrick Keane said there had been meetings between the code and social media platform.

“Yes, I can confirm we’ve had meetings and no I can’t comment on what was discussed,” said Keane.

Mumbrella understands the executives have also being taken to see the one day international cricket match in Sydney and the Australian Open, in Melbourne, as the social media network seeks to mirror the success of its overseas strategy of using sport to expand its estimated 2.5 million strong Australian user base.

QUT Associate Professor Axel Bruns said it would be natural for the company to pursue a strategy of driving growth through sport.

“Just growing organically doesn’t work that well, it makes more sense to tap into existing communities around sporting codes and to work with the fans and the sporting codes”, said Bruns, who has recently written a paper on Twitter success in expanding its membership through engaging German professional soccer clubs.

“In Germany, in the Bundesliga clubs, there was a considerable increase in the number of people following official accounts after Twitter engaged with the sport.”

Nic Christensen

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