Live Blog: Twitter’s Del Harvey At SMX Social Media Marketing

Day one of our SMX Social Media Marketing conference is wrapping up here in Las Vegas, and we’re concluding things via a keynote conversation with Twitter’s Director of Trust & Safety, Del Harvey (@delbius). Marketing Land’s Editor-in-Chief Danny Sullivan will be leading the conversation, and we’ll be reporting as it goes with our live blog […]

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smxlogo-200Day one of our SMX Social Media Marketing conference is wrapping up here in Las Vegas, and we’re concluding things via a keynote conversation with Twitter’s Director of Trust & Safety, Del Harvey (@delbius). Marketing Land’s Editor-in-Chief Danny Sullivan will be leading the conversation, and we’ll be reporting as it goes with our live blog coverage below.

The conversation should begin in a few moments, so feel free to refresh the page to follow along.

Danny introduces Del as someone with “ultimate policing powers,” someone like the head of the FBI or CIA. Del has a presentation to give, so that’s how we’ll start.

Del has been at Twitter since 2008, AKA “the dawn of time.” She started the Trust & Safety department and jokes that the department’s mission statement is 134 characters … though it’s not required that it be less than 140 characters.

She begins by telling the story of Aaron Durand (@everydaydude), who famously tweeted a request to his friends in Portland to help his mom’s independent bookstore by buying a book or three there. (This is one of the “Twitter stories” that Twitter has promoted in its marketing in the past.) They did, and her store was saved from going out of business (or some similar fate) and had its best holiday ever, all thanks to his tweet.

Your ability to connect effectively with your audience determines your success on Twitter. If you’re connecting in this way, chances are good that you’re doing anything that will get your account banned or suspended.

Four things you want to do on Twitter:

  • tell your brand’s story
  • expand your audience
  • strengthen loyalty
  • increase brand exposure

Not all tweets are created equal. Things that tend to not work:

Multiple Unsolicited @Replies — imagine if @everydaydude had sent his message individually to several people one after the other. It would look spammy on @everydaydude’s profile. This kind of individual targeting = not a good thing.

Duplicate Posts and #Random #Hashtags — imagine if @everydaydude had sent out his tweet multiple times with different popular hashtags trying to get noticed. That would also look spammy.

Twitter Best Practices

Host a Chat – create a real-time forum to drive meaningful, brand-relevant conversation; establish rules and guidelines, but expect the unexpected — how will you react if chatters criticize your company?

She uses the example of Tide (the detergent company) doing a #tideflag chat surrounding July 4th.

Run a Contest – Harvey says 88 percent of Twitter users follow a brand because they want free stuff. But it can be other things, too, beyond freebies — Photoshop contests, etc. Mercedes Benz UK did a contest that allowed users to steer the conclusion of an episodic TV ad.

Announce a Sale – people like saving money. This is tailor-made for getting people to engage with you. Uses @whippedbakeshop as an example of small business that tweets discount codes.

Now we’re on to the Q&A.

First Q: Are there guidelines for contests?

Del says they have a help page listing some guidelines. Easier to read that than to try to explain it all here.

DS: What about the recent Facebook case where someone posted a fake winning lottery ticket. What would Twitter do in a situation like that?

DH: We don’t normally comment on theoreticals. We’ve found that our users are usually pretty good at correcting those kinds of things.

DS: What about ending up in “Twitter jail” during Twitter chats.

DH: We’re working on that on the product side. You shouldn’t run into limits when you’re doing something good. That rule is in place to prevent spam, but we’re working on resolving it for other situations. I don’t have a timeframe for when that might be fixed.


She goes on to say that the Twitter jail problems doesn’t target people individually. There are a billion tweets every three days; they don’t have time to target people like that.

DS: What about the Guy Adams situation in the Olympics when he was censored?

DH: It was a case of two independent teams that happened to overlap. Trust and Safety processes reports blind to what else is going on in other departments. It wasn’t an ideal situation. Trust and Safety is completely separate from the rest of the organization. I report to our general counsel.

DS: Follower counts are gamed by spammers. Why do you let users create perceived importance this way?

DH: It’s actually really hard to fight spam. It’s an arms race. We’ve dealt with things like explicit avatars and the old @ reply spam issue. Which is worse — tons of spammy @ replies, or the possibility that someone looks more important than they are? She’s basically saying that Twitter has to prioritize the battles it fights. She says this problem isn’t all that important, but also seems to hint that something is in the works.

You cannot buy followers. (You can, but she’s saying it’s against Twitter policies.) They’ll get discovered and suspended, and then you’ll be out the money and the followers.

DS: How does the suggested followers feature work?

DH: It’s an incredibly complex algorithm. She compares to Willy Wonka – you end up with an amazing gobstopper at the end. She uses an example of a user who visits CNN might be suggested to follow an account that many other CNN visitors also follow.

(Note: Harvey is referring to Twitter’s tailored suggestions, which was launched back in May. The company explained how that works (bold emphasis is mine):

These tailored suggestions are based on accounts followed by other Twitter users and visits to websites in the Twitter ecosystem. We receive visit information when sites have integrated Twitter buttons or widgets, similar to what many other web companies — including LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube — do when they’re integrated into websites. By recognizing which accounts are frequently followed by people who visit popular sites, we can recommend those accounts to others who have visited those sites within the last ten days.)

Danny asks about how to become verified, but Del explains that’s not something Trust and Safety is involved in. There’s a help page with more info on that topic.

DS: Asks my question, which is “what happens after I click the Report Spam button?”

DH: It’s not reviewed by a human. It goes into the backend, into a system. There are automated thresholds and reviews, i.e. – one report could be the one that pushes an account beyond the limit to get suspended.

That’s the end of the Q&A, and now Del is going to get up and finish her presentation with an “epic shortlist” — an acronym:

  • Events
  • Participation
  • Interests
  • Content

That’s the starter set for becoming effective on Twitter, for connecting with your audience.

And with that, we’re finished. Thanks for reading along!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Matt McGee
Matt McGee joined Third Door Media as a writer/reporter/editor in September 2008. He served as Editor-In-Chief from January 2013 until his departure in July 2017. He can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee.

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