The Kraft Peanut Butter Bears encourage visitors to Toronto's Eaton Centre to send #KraftBearHugs on Nov. 18. Courtesy Twitter Canada.

Published: November 28th, 2017

A Toronto-based startup is helping Twitter Canada and its partners bring their messages to greater heights – literally.

Founded in 2013, Dive Networks advertises itself as a creator of real-time news networks for businesses and organizations, for broadcasting over a customer’s intranet or during conferences – but since February, it’s helped Twitter Canada and its partners broadcast user-generated messages over a slightly larger canvas: digital billboards.

With Dive’s help, for example, the company broadcast live tweets on Remembrance Day honouring veterans or discussing what the holiday means to users during Nov. 11’s 11 o’clock moment of silence at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square.

On Feb. 21 – the launch of McDonald’s all-day breakfast menu across Canada – the fast food giant and Twitter marked the occasion by broadcasting grateful tweets with the #AllDayBreakfast hashtag once Canadians were finally allowed to purchase Egg McMuffins after 11 AM.

Twitter Canada head of consumer marketing Laura Pearce says the company’s campaigns with Dive Networks – in which tweets are broadcast on billboards – help amplify the platform’s real-time messages.

“From a marketing perspective, we describe Twitter as what’s happening – it’s a place you go to find out what’s happening in the world in real-time,” Laura Pearce, Twitter Canada’s head of consumer marketing, tells ITBusiness.ca. “[Our campaigns with Dive] are a way for us to amplify things that are trending on Twitter, and bring that real live conversation to life in a public space.”

Most recently, the companies collaborated with food giant Kraft Heinz Canada ULC. on Bear Hug Day (see header image), a campaign aimed at encouraging users to reach out to loved ones, whether 30 minutes or 3000 kilometres away, by sending a virtual hug using the Kraft peanut butter bears through Twitter.

Similar to the McDonald’s campaign, tweets using the #KraftBearHugs hashtag were broadcast at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square.

Dive Networks CEO and co-founder Deborah Hall believes the campaigns’ success lies in their ability to create a bridge between consumers and what she calls the “out-of-home space,” by connecting users to public media campaigns via their mobile devices.

Dive Networks CEO and co-founder Deborah Hall says the campaigns create a bridge between consumers and the public realm.

“When you think about how many digital boards now cover our major cities, there’s such a large canvas now for this type of opportunity – turning those places into dynamic content zones – and the possibilities are limitless,” Hall says. “Remembrance Day is a great example: When you’re standing in the square watching this content that people like you are posting from their devices across Canada, it really gives you an emotional feeling that’s impossible for companies to produce any other way.”

More importantly, Twitter’s Pearce says, users love seeing themselves at the centre of national campaigns.

“We’ve observed – and, frankly, me and Deb do it all the time… people taking a picture, posting it, and seeing how long it takes to come onto the board,” she says. “We often say a tweet is the new autograph – the new way to say ‘I was here’ – and the ability to say that on your mobile phone, and then see it appear as you wrote it, likely with a picture of you in it, on a big screen is really exciting.”

“For us, it really reminds people about Twitter’s value in bringing information to people versus other social networks, by being live and open and real-time,” Pearce continues. “It’s a big differentiator for us.”

And in case you’re wondering, though Dive is still experimenting with new methods of engagement on many of its campaigns, CEO Hall says the current approach uses a combination of machine learning and human curation: That is, humans vet all content that is published on billboards, lest McDonald’s find itself at the centre of another controversy similar to its most famous tweet of 2017.

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