If Twitter’s new CMO is Leslie Berland from Amex, that bodes well for Twitter lovers (Update: confirmed)

Posted by Marshall Kirkpatrick on Jan 25, 2016 7:44:50 AM

Helping make Twitter more mainstream, without killing what makes it such a cultural phenomenon, is a marketing challenge, in part.  What is Twitter and why would everyday people want to use it?Twitter is reportedly about to hire a Chief Marketing Officer to help tell that story.

The leading candidate is good at using Twitter; she's active, engaged, and has built the kind of network that studies say is very supportive of innovative thinking.

Four prominent Twitter leaders are departing the company and a Chief Marketing Officer will be announced soon, it was revealed in news from prominent Valley reporter Kara Swisher last night. Swisher believes that American Express EVP Leslie Berland is the top candidate. (Update:  The day after this analysis was published, Berland has been confirmed by Twitter as its CMO.)

Analysis of Berland’s social graph on Twitter, using Little Bird, supports that conclusion and suggests that she could be a very innovative thinker aimed to tackle the challenge of balancing the need to bring Twitter to the mainstream with preserving the qualities that have made the communication platform so exciting.

Good at Twitter

Berland is following Twitter marketing leaders and they're following her back. Swisher notes in her coverage that among the people Berland has followed most recently on Twitter are a number of marketing and other leaders at the company.  We note that they are following her back.  6 of the last 8 reciprocal connections Berland has formed have been with important members of Twitter’s staff, a strong indication she’s at least having conversations recently and that the respect is mutual.

Berland is good at using Twitter, which is a relief.  She posts fairly consistently, for an executive, and two thirds of her posts over the last three months have been replies to other people.   

An Innovative Network

LeslieBerland.pngAn analysis of the nearly 500 people Berland has chosen to follow suggests that she is likely to be an innovative thinker with an open mind. A recent five year study performed by scientists at Babson College, the National University of Ireland and the VP of Innovation at EMC, published in the MIT/Sloan Management Review, found a strong correlation between a person having a diverse, loosely connected network of people they follow on Twitter and that person being a strong innovator at work.   (Those broad-networked innovators tend to fall in two categories, which the study calls “idea scouts” and “idea connectors.”)

Berland’s 500 friends fall into three general clusters and have an average of 39 connections between them.  That means she’s got a more diverse network of people that she follows than Marrisa Meyer, Esther Dyson, Uber’s Travis Kalanick and a number of other prominent innovators.   Incidentally, the trailblazing veteran star of journalism Kara Swisher, who broke this among so many other stories, has a much tighter network of friends on Twitter, with 135 in-group connections between the people she follows.

Who are the three types of accounts Berland follows? The red cluster is media organizations, from the New York Times to Jezebel to the New Yorker.  The purple cluster are Amex related accounts, from former Amex BD teammate and now Uber experiencial marketer Michael Berner to Amex partner Foursquare.  The green cluster, which is the largest of the three, is made up of a host of tech innovators, from Elon Musk to Tristan Walker to prominent Twitter leaders to Kara Swisher.

As CMO of Twitter, Berland would likely have important relations with marketing and advertising agencies.  An analysis of her social graph finds that she currently follows almost no company accounts for agencies herself, but agencies that are unusually influential among her friends include Digitas LBI, Huge Inc. and Big Spaceship.

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