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The Downfall of Twitter

Many well-read Twitter users and marketing experts alike are confused about why Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo made the decision to put the social media giant’s Chief Financial Officer, Anthony Noto, in charge of the company’s marketing strategy. Most who ponder the topic conclude that this is a very poor decision on the CEO’s part, and that the decision comes at an especially poor time.

Even those with very little marketing experience are baffled by this decision in online conversations. This period of time is one where Twitter needs to think on its feet and really make good decisions, since it has been faced with a serious lag in user growth that is a threat to the company’s status as one of the leading social media platforms.

Investors in the company are not feeling very secure with Twitter’s user growth statistics at this point, so the CEO is being watched with anticipation to see what the solution will be to this obstacle. Twitter’s stock took a dive of about 20% on April 28, 2015, after it reported it had had the lowest quarterly growth since the site went live.

Now, more than ever, Twitter needs a talented marketing expert to bring it back from the precipice. An experienced marketer would help Twitter enormously by potentially convincing more people to join, urging people to tweet more and view more ads and feeds, and convincing brands to advertise on the social media platform instead of on other social media platforms like Facebook.

Chief Financial Officer vs. Chief Marketing Officer

Marketing is not a typical job requirement for a CFO. It is not something that they are typically trained in, which is why companies have Chief Marketing Officers, who are well-trained and extremely proficient in all things marketing.

It is important to have a person who is specifically trained in every aspect of marketing to fill this position, and typically, a Chief Financial Officer just is not the perfect fit. A company needs someone specifically to lead more people to join the site and entice more business to market using the platform.

Some marketing experts view this decision by Twitter’s Chief Executive Officer as a red flag, indicative of worse things to come. They lean towards the idea that putting the CFO in charge of marketing is something a business does only when it is really in trouble. Some believe that this is Twitter’s way of desperately trying to keep the bottom-line intact, while sacrificing more creative endeavors.

However, others believe that this decision is not so unusual. Another marketing chief at a successful online company thinks that there may be some wisdom in putting Noto in charge of marketing at this point in time. Another marketing executive gave an important insight, which is that marketing departments are being given more and more responsibility over revenue, rather than just brand-building strategies.

Since both positions are directly responsible for increasing profitability, putting a Chief Financial Officer in charge of marketing may not be the worst idea. He does, after all, know how to drive profits and increase sales, while maybe not having the creativity of a true marketing expert.

Twitter was unable to find a Chief Marketing Officer to fill the position after months of searching, and had been working with executives taking over the role for short periods of time, rotating in and out. These individuals looked over the small marketing department at Twitter, and included the VP-product, Kevin Weil.

About the Chief Financial Officer: Mr. Noto

The Chief Commanding Officer at Twitter is definitely a well-respected expert in his field, and has worked for major corporations, such as Goldman Sachs, Lehman brothers, and as the CFO of the NFL. He was also the brand manager for Kraft for a few years.However, due to an unfortunate Twitter incident, Mr. Noto is most well-known, by most Twitter followers, for a direct message that he mistakenly tweeted about a Twitter acquisition.

Because of his strong presence at the company, however, many feel that giving Mr. Noto the additional role of marketing officer is about putting a trusted figure in the position while they decide what to do next with the marketing department during this time of transition. However, others feel this is indicative of the marketing world as a whole moving away from brand-building and moving more toward product-promoting.

The companies that have the most proven and most successful Chief Marketing Officers on their teams are the companies that focus on the customers first, while corporations who put the product first tend to put less effort into the marketing department and focus less on building a brand that is relatable and sellable to customers.

In addition to acting as the Chief Financial Officer (and now head of marketing) at Twitter, Noto also controls several other key areas at the company: real estate, corporate strategy, and corporate development.

Twitter has not had a very solid marketing department in its history, and the company has a long history of executives leaving the company, often over very public disputes. Kate Jhaveri, who is the Senior Director of Consumer Marketing at Twitter, was passed up for the job of CMO.

This came as a shock for many, since Twitter “poached” her from Facebook. Jhaveri is rumored to be planning to resign, but is currently still with the company. She is among at least 4 other high-power female executives to leave Twitter within less than a year.

Conclusion

Time will tell whether Twitter intends to keep Noto in place as CMO for a long period of time, or whether he is simply being used as a reliable placeholder until Twitter can find a great CMO to lead the department. But whatever ends up happening, Noto first has a difficult job at hand of marketing himself to the company and to Twitter users, who doubt his ability in the position and even disapprove of his appointment.

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...

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