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Twitter kicks off marketing campaign to help you get a grip on what it is

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Twitter is about “what’s happening” states the company in a new marketing campaign aimed at clarifying what the social network is primarily used for.

In fact, that term “social network” may be the cause of confusion among those of us who simply cant get our heads around the platform. In its blog post announcing the elaborate digital ad campaign, Twitter claims that the people who don’t use it think of it as a place akin to Facebook, where you “find and connect with friends.” Additionally, those same people believe that to use Twitter you need to tweet every day.

If you’re still unsure of the difference between a tweetstorm and subtweet, Twitter isn’t offering anything by way of a tutorial. Instead, the new promotional venture recalls its iTunes App Store reinvention earlier this year — which saw Twitter change its category from “social networking” to “news” — once again framing the platform as a source of live information.

In the accompanying videos, Twitter depicts itself as a place to find out what’s going on in the world. A resulting slideshow of clips shows real-life footage from a series of major events including the NBA Finals, a Donald Trump speech, and a Black Lives Matter protest. A voiceover asks, “what’s trending?” as we are shown footage from the Broadway musical Hamilton, and Game of Thrones, emphasizing Twitter’s pop-culture factor. Clips from sporting events, which Twitter is increasingly live-streaming on its service, can also be seen in the short visual. A second ad illustrates Twitter’s political aspect, and is composed of relevant breaking news clips.

See what's happening:

— Twitter (@twitter) July 25, 2016

Portraying itself as a hub of live interactions surrounding major real-time events could work in Twitter’s favor, particularly with the approaching U.S. presidential election, and upcoming Olympics in Rio. These are exactly the types of breaking news events that millions of people will be tuning in to, and seeking additional information about. If Twitter can successfully promote the diverse range of voices, and opinions, on its platform — as it claims it will in the coming months — then the ad campaign may well turn out to be a success.

“Twitter is where you go to see what’s happening everywhere in the world right now,” states Leslie Berland, chief marketing officer at Twitter. “From breaking news and entertainment to sports and politics — from big events to everyday interests with all the live commentary that makes Twitter unique.”

Despite having been around for over a decade, the fact that Twitter now feels compelled to define itself is a troubling sign. The platform claims that 90 percent of the people it spoke to as part of its marketing research recognized the Twitter brand. It did not, however, reveal how many of those same people actually use its service. And stagnant user numbers are currently its biggest obstacle to growth. With its second-quarter earnings results around the corner, and investors bracing themselves for disappointment, the new ad campaign could also be a case of too little, too late.

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