“We’ve got to make the platform more approachable,” says Rory Capern, talking to 24 Hours in Twitter’s Toronto office. “We’re in touch with 40% of Canadians on the web. There’s 60% remaining. How do we become relevant to those folks? And then with all these people that have used Twitter before, how do we engage them to show them all the things that we’ve done since the last time we spoke to them, and make it ever more meaningful?” The 38-year-old Capern recently signed on as Twitter Canada’s new managing director, taking over the role once held by Kirstine Stewart, who became the company’s vice-president of North American media in 2014. The father of two spent five years with Google Canada as head of partnerships before his current gig.
Capern joins the company as it nears its 10th birthday and struggles to expand its user base – a problem that isn’t such a big deal in Canada, he says.
“Within Canada, we’re growing strong. The last several years have been great, and we’re happy with what we’re seeing in the market. Canadians, in general, over-index in terms of their engagement with social. We’re fortunate to be a part of that.”
“Kirstine Stewart is a Canadian icon. Those are some huge shoes to fill. Let’s not pull any punches on that. But I’m honoured to have the chance to work with her, in the transition. She’s been so helpful. She’s also just incredibly connected in Canada, and has been very accommodating – sharing her experiences and connections, and making a lot of introductions.”
“There’s been a huge growth in the amount of video that’s being consumed in our country. Canadian Twitter users consume five hours a month more, on average, than U.S. users. I think it’s because of the cold winters.”
“Moments, which features a curated list of the best tweets about certain subjects, is very exciting. It’s rolling out imminently, i n the next couple of months. Canada is very high on the list of roll-out markets, generally.”
“First View is an ad product, but it provides the ability for an advertiser to essentially get the placement of the first ad that somebody sees in their Twitter experience. It’s particularly hard-hitting when targeted really well. And it’s very valuable from an advertising point of view.”
PERISCOPE PACKS POTENTIAL
“We’ve already done some work in this space, but I think we’re just getting warm, in terms of what Periscope can do. It’s just the very beginning of what it means to put a live broadcast mechanism in somebody’s phone, in their hand, to shoot whatever they want. And now it’s fully integrated into the platform.”
TIME TO ASK QUESTIONS
“How do we make Twitter as a service more relevant, based on what you find interesting? What we think a lot about is, when you walk through the door of Twitter for the first time, you have to ask yourself some existential questions that are kind of uncomfortable sometimes: ‘What am I interested in? Who do I really want to follow?’ We want to help facilitate those introductions.”
FIGHTING ISIS AND HATE SPEECH
“This was a massive topic of discussion with (Twitter CEO) Jack Dorsey at a recent global leadership conference. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the importance of this problem and the solutions we have in place now. We haven’t disclosed a lot of the specifics around where we’re going in the year, but what I will tell you is that it’s a HUGE priority.”
CANADIANS ON TWITTER
BY THE NUMBERS
source: Global Web Index, Canada, Q1-Q4 2015 and Nielsen #deepdive 2015, Canada
40% of Canadians online are regular Twitter users, which roughly translates to 10 to 12 million people.
76% of Canadian users watch video on the platform, with 24% of them doing it every day.
MORE THAN 50% of Twitter’s Canadian audience is millennial (between the ages of 16 and 34)