What are some epic twitter debates

What the new Germany boss Jolanta Baboulidis plans to do with Twitter

Political manipulation has become normal, the harassment of women everyday and the spread of fake news and hate messages are the order of the day. In short: The state of social media in 2019 is unfortunately - it has to be said so clearly - catastrophic. In this country, the debate about the pros and cons of social networks has recently sparked off to a particularly high degree on one platform: Twitter.


It was not until the beginning of January that Greens boss Robert Habeck deleted his Twitter account with media coverage on the grounds that the platform had developed into an "instrument of division". A little later, Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner followed suit and explained in a dpa interview why he is not active on Twitter himself: "That costs too much time, produces too much negative energy and too little knowledge." He even urged journalists to "complete abstinence" in the social medium.

In an interview with HORIZONT, ​​the new Germany boss Jolanta Baboulidis now praises improvement. "We don't want to reach coverage at any price, we want to improve the quality of the conversations," says the 32-year-old, adopting a rueful tone: "Hate and spam are currently a challenge, also for Twitter. But we have recognized that and are now in the process of getting rid of the world. " Read the full interview below:Ms. Baboulidis, after a brief stint at Snap, you switched back to your old employer, Twitter. Why the change of heart?I feel a deep connection with Twitter because I've worked for the company for years. In 2010, when there was only one other office in Japan in addition to the headquarters in San Francisco, I started at Twitter, later helped to build the office in Dublin and opened up the German advertising market from London. Returning to my old employer was a natural step for me: Out of sales and into general management, where as Country Director I can now take on even more responsibility for the company. I am really looking forward to this.

With all due respect: Switching from Snap to Twitter sounds a bit like falling apart. Both companies are currently struggling with falling user numbers.Twitter is doing great. The company has written a comeback story that has never been seen before in the tech industry. We have been in the black for over a year. Advertising revenues increased by 29 percent from the 3rd to the 4th quarter of 2018 and the number of our daily active users is growing steadily. So we see a positive trend.

Twitter recently lost nine million users worldwide.We have made many changes in the past to improve the quality of the tweets and discourse on our service. In the summer of 2018 alone, 70 million bot accounts were deleted, which had also caused the number of users to decline. We don't want reach at any price, but rather improve the quality of the conversations. We are convinced that these measures will keep the Twitter product attractive to users.

Are the numbers for the German market also positive?We do not provide any information about the German profits and revenues. But I can tell you that we see a very good advertising business in Germany. We are very satisfied with the market in this country.

However, the German Twitter team, which is mainly responsible for sales, has shrunk significantly in recent years. One can hardly speak of a flourishing advertising business.On the contrary, the advertising business in Germany is doing very well. It's no secret that the German team was significantly bigger two years ago. The fact that it is now smaller is mainly due to the fact that the company restructured itself in 2016. Unfortunately, we had to part with some employees and centralize jobs from Hamburg in Dublin or London. That wasn't so nice, of course. But that ultimately also contributed to Twitter being in the black now. We owe that to our investors. At least as far as the German market is concerned, I want to bring in more dynamism again. That means: new employees, new customers, new partnerships.

The Hamburg headquarters in Germany shut down Twitter secretly, quietly and quietly a year ago. The Berlin office was closed at the end of 2016. How is Twitter positioned in Germany today?We have rented two offices in coworking spaces, one in Hamburg for sales and one in Berlin for public policy. We have a total of nine employees in Germany and we are growing continuously. We have welcomed new colleagues in the past few months and are in the process of filling new positions.

Let's talk about your new job on Twitter. What topics are now on your agenda?At the top of my list is the so-called health initiative. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had recently commented on this more often. That is the top priority in the company, and therefore also in Germany.

The manager
Jolanta Baboulidis started her marketing career eight years ago on Twitter in San Francisco - back then in the communications department. After a short stint at Nike, she then built up Twitter's advertising business in Germany as a salesperson. Two years ago, the now 32-year-old became the first German employee at Snap, built up the local advertising business for this company and finally switched back to Twitter - this time as head of Germany.
What does that mean in concrete terms?We want to make sure that the quality of the conversations that take place on Twitter improves. Hate and spam are currently a challenge, also for Twitter. But we have recognized that and are now in the process of getting rid of it. That is why we launched the Health Initiative.

What are the results of this initiative?We have made over 30 product and security changes in the past few months. For example the quality filter: If the Twitter user activates this tool and clicks on a hashtag, the tweets with lower quality are automatically displayed below - but not deleted at the same time. Also, as mentioned earlier, we removed millions of bot accounts around the world.

If you ask around at media agencies, hate speech and fake news are still a big problem for Twitter.In my new role as Country Director, I have not yet discussed this in detail with the media agencies; the focus in the discussions was more on the topic of brand strategies. But as I said: we have recognized the problem and are working flat out to minimize it. I think it is important to explain to clients and media agencies what we have already done and what improvements are still being planned. From that point of view, I'm in good spirits.

How do you intend to convince the advertising industry of your product?I think our service differs from all the others in one central point: In most social networks, the users are interested in the message “Look at me!”, In other words, to present themselves. Instead, Twitter is all about current affairs in the world and the opportunity to participate in public discourse. So our users say “Take a look at this!” In addition, Twitter users come to the platform with a discover mindset, so they want to discover new things and are open to messages from advertisers. 74 percent of users follow branded accounts.

This is how German Twitter users shop at Christmas time

A study commissioned by Twitter has just shown that users of the short message service - who would have thought it - are particularly communicative and also influential. But how do German Twitter users actually shop at Christmas?

However, the ad penetration on Twitter is significantly lower than on other platforms. According to experts, every second post on Instagram is of advertising origin, on Twitter only every eighth post. Don't you get the advertising space sold?No, that is by design. It is precisely because the ad penetration is not so high that our users are better at absorbing the advertising content on Twitter. Studies have clearly shown us that we were able to increase advertising effectiveness with this strategy.

That's an interesting point. In Germany in particular, Twitter has published an unusually large number of studies on advertising effectiveness and user characteristics in the trade press in recent months. Is there still a lot of information needed about Twitter and its target groups?I guess so. When it comes to education, we've actually been a little negligent in the past. Therefore we are now in the process of catching up on this work. We want to better communicate to the advertising companies what works on our service and how our target groups can be addressed.
“Hate and spam are currently a challenge, also for Twitter. But we have recognized that and are now in the process of getting rid of it. "
Jolanta Baboulidis, Twitter
How should companies advertise on Twitter?I'd rather ask another question: When should companies advertise on Twitter? And there are mainly two relevant options: On the one hand, with launch campaigns, such as a product launch. If you want to reach the key opinion leaders, you give the campaign a very good platform on Twitter. On the other hand, you can document topics and environments that interest the advertiser's customers. That can be something from the cultural area like the hashtag #IBES for the TV show “I'm a star - get me out of here!” Or events like the soccer world championship. And then preferably via moving images - that works very well for us. Here we see a great advertising effect. Twitter generates half of our advertising revenue worldwide from video.

But one could also counter that product advertising on Twitter - unlike on Facebook or Instagram - is not quite as effective because the platform stands for very short and often factual, political text content. Is Twitter lacking emotionality?I do not think so. It's not just politicians and journalists on Twitter, the service is more diverse than you might think. Numerous opinion makers cavort on Twitter - i.e. people who have an influence on their family, friends and acquaintances - from a wide variety of areas such as beauty, gaming or art, who can create an emotional environment for brand messages. However, tweets from politicians and journalists are often shown in online media and on television. This picture is deceptive and does not show the whole Twitter universe.

You said half of the revenue on Twitter comes from video advertising. Does that mean TV is the biggest competitor for the budget?Not necessarily. Sure, Twitter should be part of the media mix of every company. But I wouldn't say we're in direct competition with TV. I see Twitter more as a complement to large campaigns.

But at least for the attention of the user, Twitter competes with TV. I can see this in my own usage behavior: When the advertising break begins at the RTL jungle camp, I am busy with my smartphone and tweet about the program.Here, too, I would rather speak of a complement and not of competition. I use the service in exactly the same way, namely as a second screen. At big events like the World Cup and the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, we noticed that Twitter usage increased sharply during TV broadcasts. We are therefore convinced that campaigns on TV can be very well supported by additional activities on Twitter.
© RTL / Stefan Menne

These topics and trends have moved Twitter users this year

The year is drawing to a close - in just under three and a half weeks, 2018 will be history. The social network Twitter is already looking back and, under # DasWar2018, summarizes the topics, people and trends that have preoccupied users this year.

A completely different topic: what do you think of Donald Trump's Twitter activities?He is one of around 150 heads of state who are active on Twitter. What I personally think of his use of Twitter is secondary. But I think it's important. that users or the population have the opportunity to be informed directly by heads of state - and one of them is Donald Trump. This unfiltered dialogue is what makes Twitter special.

Trump often spreads - to put it mildly - controversial content over the network. You can't like that, can you?What's the solution - mute it? It doesn't change the person's opinion. We need to make sure that statements are consistent with our rules and guidelines. We also believe that it is important that heads of state speak directly. And the public can also be held responsible for their statements.

Twitter is often criticized for not blocking accounts that spread hate or propaganda at all or for blocking them too late. What does the blocking policy look like in concrete terms?We have rules and guidelines that are publicly available. It records exactly when a user behaves according to our guidelines and when not. It also informs about the consequences, for example whether the tweet is removed or the account is completely blocked. Our focus is increasingly on proactively identifying problematic accounts and behaviors rather than waiting for us to get a report. We focus on developing machine learning tools that will automatically detect and respond to networks with spam or automated accounts.
The enterprise
Twitter is one of the most popular social networks - and is particularly popular with politicians, journalists and celebrities. The short message service, which is listed on the US stock exchange, recently deleted numerous fake accounts as part of its offensive against hate speech and spam. Result: Compared to the previous quarter, the number of monthly active users fell by nine million to 326 million in the third quarter of 2018. Nevertheless, or perhaps precisely because of this, business is going well: advertising sales recently climbed 29 percent.
Facebook has installed a large deletion team in Germany that deals with the removal of illegal content around the clock. Would that also be something for Twitter?We have that too, even if not in Germany. We have German-speaking teams whose job it is to look at reported tweets and decide whether or not they violate our guidelines. For the German market, the first step is to check the extent to which the tweets violate the NetzDG. We then have 24 hours or seven days, depending on how complex the case, to delete tweets.

In the advertising industry, middle-aged men hold the majority of important management positions. How difficult is it for young women to make a career in marketing?It's not easy, so a lot has to change. I stand for the new, young generation of women who are able to pursue a career that in the past was almost exclusively reserved for men. Twitter itself is setting a good example. There are numerous successful women in management positions in the company from whom I can learn a great deal. And men are also beginning to change their behavior. For example, as a matter of principle, my boss Bruce Daisley no longer goes to a panel with only men. I hope that in the future we will see many more women in important management positions and of course I am happy if I can also be a role model for those who are just starting out in the working world.

In fact, if you ask around from your former Twitter colleagues, all they will get is praise for you. Then let me take a more critical tone: at 32, are you perhaps too inexperienced for a leadership position on Twitter?I look back on a long and international career. I've been working in the industry for more than ten years, I'm well connected and have opened up the German advertising market for two companies - Twitter and Snapchat. In that sense, I'm almost something of an old hand.

Interview: Giuseppe Rondinella