Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Carlos Cantu, who discusses marketing on Twitter and more:

Shaheen Samavati 0:13
Hi everyone, I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix and I’m excited to be here with Carlos Cantu. He worked as a creative director for advertising and marketing agencies in Mexico before joining a brand we all know, Twitter. He works at their European headquarters now in Dublin as Director of Business Marketing for the EMEA region. Thanks so much for joining us, Carlos.

Carlos Cantu 0:31
I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for the invitation, Shaheen.

Shaheen Samavati 0:35
So let’s just get right into it. Can you start out by telling us what a Director of Business Marketing does at Twitter?

Carlos Cantu 0:43
Yes, sure. I’ve tried to be an enabler for the marketing teams in EMEA, Europe and the Middle East, basically so that they have the resources, I would say sometimes the inspiration and the space, to create impactful and relevant plans to engage with our customers. Our customers, our brands and agencies want to engage with their audiences through Twitter. So we want to persuade them that Twitter is the best place for them to do that and more importantly, to help them have all the information to do that properly so that they can really take advantage of the platform. We know that if they take advantage of the platform and they have positive results, they will keep coming back to the platform, which is our goal, obviously.

Shaheen Samavati 1:44
How does content marketing play into what you do?

Carlos Cantu 1:47
Content marketing is really important for us because we truly believe that the best way we can approach our customers, or our audience is proving to them that we are a valuable partner to them. So through content, we try to prove that thought leadership data, insights that are relevant to them and that are helpful to them. So that’s the way we focus our content. We think that if they see that we can provide them with relevant information, relevant data, guidance, they will be open to work with us and to partner with us, which is very important. In the past 12 months, it has been more important than ever, because a lot of what we usually did, we’re not able to do right now. So digital content is an essential tool right now, more than ever.

Shaheen Samavati 2:54
Absolutely. So I’ll get a bit more into that a little bit later. But I wanted to ask you first about your own professional story. You’re from Mexico, you were working as a creative director. How did you make the jump to working for Twitter? How did you get in at Twitter in the first place because it’s a place a lot of people would love to work I think.

Carlos Cantu 3:16
I guess I was lucky. I’ve been working with Twitter for a little bit more than six years now. So when I started, I came from being a creative director, I was the creative VP at an advertising agency in Mexico. Most of my career, I built it being a copywriter and a creative director in traditional advertising. So I used to say that my career was built with TV ads, 30 seconds at a time, sometimes 20 seconds at a time. That’s how I built my career. At some point, I realized that what I was doing was not as exciting anymore. If I wanted to be an impactful creative, I needed to start exploring new areas like digital, experiential, shopper marketing even. So I started exploring other areas. Through that exploration, I got to an agency called Cheil, which is the global agency for Samsung. It’s a Korean agency, actually they are part of the Samsung family. This agency was built to work with Samsung, even though they work with other other clients. It’s the number one agency in Korea, I think it’s top two or top three in Asia. Now it’s a global agency. So I ended up working there in Mexico or for them in Mexico as a creative VP and that was my first approach to more digital advertising, mobile because obviously mobile is very important to them. Then someone called me and said, Hey, Carlos, we’re looking for someone in Mexico for Twitter. Twitter didn’t have an office in Mexico back then. So do you know someone with this profile? And I was like, sure. So I sent a couple of CVs to them just like, Hey, I think these people can help you. They came back saying, No, we’re looking for someone with a profile similar to yours. I was like, Oh, really like me? Well, I was a big fan of Twitter, it was my favorite platform back then. So I was like, well, I’ll give it a try. So I sent mine and I was like if you think I could do it, I would love to give it a try. I entered the process thinking I was not the right candidate. The whole process, I was like I’m not the right person for this. I know that they will find out but I want to meet people just to have interviews, I’ll give it a try. It took seven months actually because, as I was saying, there was no Twitter Mexico office back then. So it was a very long process. At the end, they told me that they wanted me to join the team. My reply was like, wow, I’m excited. You think I can do the job because being honest, I don’t think I can do it?

Shaheen Samavati 6:30
Because the job was very different than what you were doing at the time?

Carlos Cantu 6:35
Yeah, very different. They told me that they were looking someone who could be like a bridge between a tech company, the customers and the agencies. Even though I was not very good at the technical side, I was used to talking to marketers and pitching to them. That was something I did my whole career. So I could do that. They told me, you’re going to learn the technical side so that you can be this bridge between us and them. It was awesome because Twitter hired me to learn, which is something I really appreciate. So I was Twitter Mexico’s first employee and I started working from home and from Starbucks for a few months. It was a great experience, it was a huge learning curve, but at least I felt comfortable because I was not an imposter. I told them upfront, I don’t know much about this. It’s been quite a journey. My first four years there, I was doing a different thing to what I am doing right now. They were not looking for a marketer, the team was called back then back brand strategy. Now they call it next. It’s a consultant team for the brands and the agencies on strategy and creativity. So I was working with the agencies, just helping them to create better creativity and smarter strategies that could work at Twitter. So that was closer to what I was doing before, so I was working with a lot of my colleagues, a lot of friends that I already knew, brainstorming with them, coming up with ideas. With a lot of clients I already knew. A few clients, I was pitching to them as an agency one week and two or three weeks later, I was back just to talk about something totally different. Yeah it was a great experience.

Shaheen Samavati 8:52
Cool. So actually you were a fit for the role in the end because you had the contacts that they needed, right? So you were involved in this agency community there in Mexico.

Carlos Cantu 9:02
Exactly. That helped a lot and I knew how to talk to brands and how to talk to agencies. What I didn’t know was the Twitter side, again I was a big fan and I was a very avid user of the platform, but not as a marketing tool. But I had to learn that and it took me a few months, maybe more. I remember my manager back then told me “Hey, Carlos, you’ve been with Twitter two weeks”. It was my first meeting with a client. I was gonna pitch them for the first time and I was really nervous because again, I still felt I didn’t know anything about Twitter. My manager told me, “Hey, Carlos, you’ve been here two weeks. You spent one week in San Francisco. You already know more about Twitter than anyone here so don’t worry.”

Shaheen Samavati 9:59
And it went well, that first meeting?

Carlos Cantu 10:04
It was a weird one.

Shaheen Samavati 10:07
But you got better at it over time.

Carlos Cantu 10:10
Yeah. They didn’t like the ideas, being honest. But they liked me, which helped a lot. They trusted me. They were like, “Hey Carlos, this is not what we need,” but we started building a relationship. The relationship I was able to build with the brands working for Twitter was very different from the one I was able to build during 15 years as a creative director. They were more open to me, they saw us more as consultants and as partners than the way they usually see their agencies. It was very interesting to me because I was the same person, I just had a different hat and the reaction was so different. In many companies I never met the CMO before, because they were always busy. They were inviting me to have lunch and to have conversations and it was a very interesting experience.

Shaheen Samavati 11:13
Yeah, that’s really interesting. So can you tell us a bit about your current role? How did you end up going to Dublin? How does what you do now differ from what you were doing when you first started at Twitter?

Carlos Cantu 11:28
Yeah, very, very different. Again, when I started that process, my first process with Twitter, I would have never thought of me doing B2B marketing, which is something I’d never done before. Marketing, in general, being the client, as the creative directors usually say in this region where I had no experience, that’s how Twitter works. So after three years, I was asked if I was willing to come to Dublin for this role. I was like, Are you sure? Once again I was like are you sure? I’ve never worked in Europe. Actually, I’ve never been to Dublin. I’ve never been a marketer and I’ve never done B2B. So it didn’t make sense. So I went through the process again, they thought I was the right person for this, for two reasons, I would say. The first one is because the audience we serve in B2B marketing are the people I’ve been working with my whole career, once again, agencies and clients, marketers, brand managers. So I know how to pitch to them, I know what they think of Twitter, I’ve been pitching them Twitter for three years at this point. So I know what they like about Twitter, what they don’t like about Twitter, what are their concerns. So I had that and I’d been in the front line for three years. So that was interesting and even though I was not part of the sales team, I was pitching them ideas which helped the sales team. So I was very close to them too. The second one is because since I joined Twitter, for me, creativity is the magic key. I’ve used that as my weapon, let’s say and that’s what they were aiming that I was going to do here. To sparkle the creativity and to push for innovation and creativity. So again, long learning curve. My team, when I joined the team, they were like, hey, why is this person our manager? He comes from a different region, he is not into B2B and he is a creative director. So they helped me a lot. But it was a good process. It was a tough one but I think we’re in a very good place now after a few years.

Shaheen Samavati 14:16
Based on what you were doing before, that was also B2B because you were working with agencies the same as you are now, no?

Carlos Cantu 14:23
Correct, but I was helping them with their campaigns. So we were working on ideas, concepts, campaigns that were B2C because all my customers were B2C companies. So I was working on their campaigns. Now I’m creating campaigns for them. So now they are my audience. So the audience is different, back then they were my clients and we were together partnering to create a campaign. Now I need to create campaigns to them. Another way to say this is I was working with them on a one to one basis and I was pitching them Twitter on a one to one basis through ideas. Now I’m more doing marketing to them. So not one to one, but one to many. You’re right. It was not as different as I thought.

Shaheen Samavati 15:16
Yeah, but you really went from a sales consulting kind of role to a more marketing role.

Carlos Cantu 15:22
Correct and not even sales. Something that worked really well for us is like, Hey, we’re the consultants, we’re the brand strategy. Now, the team is called next and it’s an amazing team, they are much better now. But the approach is always we’re your consultants, so we’re not here to sell Twitter. We’re just here to help you do good work. So I was not doing any of the selling and I’m trying to keep that approach. I’m trying never to sell Twitter, it’s not about you buying Twitter, it’s just about making you understand what Twitter can do for your brand. Then if you want to buy it, great, we hope you do. But what are the jobs Twitter needs to do for your brand or can do well for your brand?

Shaheen Samavati 16:13
Yeah. So to help us understand more what you do now, can you give us an example of a campaign or a piece of content that’s worked really well for you?

Carlos Cantu 16:23
Yeah, the EMEA team, the business marketing EMEA team, we actually call ourselves the explorers of this kind of like internal branding. We say this because we try to explore new solutions, right? New solutions that are more impactful or more effective for the same challenges we have. So I say this because I can think of things that are very diverse, probably one of the latest ones we’ve done that worked really well. A few months ago, we launched something on Twitter that we call the conversation controls, which is a way for users to decide when they tweet who they want to be able to reply to their tweets. So you can choose that anyone can reply to your tweets. But sometimes people, particularly brands, prefer that no one replies to their tweets, and now you can control that or just decide that just your followers will reply to your tweet. So we want brands to be aware of these. So we had a good content strategy in place but that was not enough, because the brands were not aware of this tool. So to raise awareness, we worked with Robert Kelly, maybe you don’t remember him by his name, but he’s very famous because he was called the BBC dad. For the people that don’t remember him I’ll send you the link so that you can share it on the blog afterwards, so that people can see the video. This person got very famous because he was talking to the BBC, he lives in Seoul in Korea. He was talking to the BBC a few years ago, on a video call, which are so common nowadays but back then it was not as common. His kids just appear in the back and start jumping, then his wife tried to get the kids out of the room. It was very famous, right?

Shaheen Samavati 18:38
Yeah. I remember it and I think I’ve seen the campaign you’re talking about too but tell us about it.

Carlos Cantu 18:42
Yeh we worked with him, he’s a lovely guy and he was very open to work with us. Not only him, his family, we recreated the whole scene again. So the media started with him exactly how you saw it on that BBC video. Then he started to talk like, Hey, I don’t know if you remember me, I was famously called the BBC dad, then his family starts to appear. Obviously, his kids are, I think three or four years older, but they were using the same clothes, the setting was exactly the same. He was like I know a thing or two about interruptions. That’s why I’m here to talk to you about how you can avoid being interrupted when you’re talking to your audience on Twitter, Twitter now has these conversation settings. So that was one of the latest things we’ve done and it was a very successful one. It really helped us to raise awareness. That’s how we approached it. So we do these, sometimes we call them stunts, that just raise awareness for the topic. Then we drive them to our articles, our blog posts, more information and that also helps the sales team to start a conversation with their customers on a one to one basis. They send the video to them or sometimes just the customers send them a message saying, Hey, I saw that video. Well, here’s more information. So yeah, it worked really, really well.

Shaheen Samavati 20:19
Very cool. Yeah, I saw that campaign and it definitely got my attention. Could you tell us about the channels that you use? How do you distribute this content that you create?

Carlos Cantu 20:30
Sure. It’s pretty unique because Twitter is a channel itself. Not everybody knows this but actually, Twitter is a very good B2B channel. We have numbers that are surprising in terms of the B2B audience we can reach on the platform. So for us Twitter is the best channel. We can do account based marketing on Twitter, which is also great because our audience is very niche. We have a blog which is huge on Twitter, where we post a lot of case studies, research and insights, but also everything related to our products and our solutions. Newsletter is obviously one basic one. Then we work with media partners, like publishers, we do a lot of editorial content with them. Paid and organic or both, sometimes we have content that is relevant to them and they are willing to share organically, sometimes we pay for something more specific. We do a little bit of paid media, but not that much being honest, on some other platforms that are helpful, but that’s not a main channel. Then our sales teams, our sales force, is our number one channel. So one pagers, narratives, we do a lot of that. Back in the days, we did a lot of events experiences, so in person experiences, installations sometimes in the agencies, sometimes we created our own experiences. Now we’re trying to do that virtually, which is a big challenge. But after a year of working on that, we’ve found very, very good ways of doing that in unique, engaging ways. So we’re experimenting a lot there, too.

Shaheen Samavati 22:43
So you’ve worked with a lot of brands over your career, what are the most common mistakes you see brands make when it comes to content marketing?

Carlos Cantu 22:54
That’s a great question. That role I was talking about, that led me to see a lot of these mistakes. There are a few but I would say that the first one is or the two that are fundamental, is brands not listening to the audience, going out there with their message without even asking their audience what they care for, what they’re talking about right now. So I always say, for brands that are wanting to join Twitter specifically, like, hey imagine that Twitter is this huge conversation, but it’s already happening. So when you get to a restaurant and your friends are sitting in a table, and they’re having a conversation and you get there late, the first thing you need to do is sit down and after saying hello, you get quiet, you wait to see what they’re talking about. When you understand and you have something to say, then you start talking. The same is with these platforms nowadays. Conversations are already happening about anything you would like to talk about. Maybe even about your brand, for sure about your category. So first, sit down and listen. See what they are talking about, what they care about, what they want to know about and then start your content strategy. So for me it’s a very basic one, but it’s important. The second one is that most of the brands don’t realize that people don’t care about the brands, normal people, usual people, they don’t care about brands. They might care about a few, two or three, and that’s it. So they don’t care about your brand. So you need to do something around something they care about. They are not interested in listening to you just because you are a brand. They will be interested if you have something to say that is relevant to them. So I know that you have a three page brief with relevant information you want to give them but that’s too ambitious, just first talk about something they care about, make them be interested in your brand, then give them one message. So it’s just one message. So you have to be very strategic on choosing what message you want to give them.

Shaheen Samavati 25:39
Yeah and then simplifying that message as well it sounds like.

Carlos Cantu 25:46
Telling them is not enough. Because, yeah I told them that already once and two months ago, you need to send them the same message several times if you want them to really remember it. If you want the message to stick you need to find different ways to send that same message so that they don’t get bored and they still are interested in hearing that message.

Shaheen Samavati 26:18
Another thing I was curious to ask you is if there’s any big difference working in the EMEA market versus in Latin America?

Carlos Cantu 26:24
Yeah it’s different. Maybe the biggest difference is language. Not just language itself, but because I think the language you use also defines a lot of what you think, the way you approach problems, the way you approach conversations is different depending on the language. So in Latin America, my role in Twitter in that time was a regional role. It was very interesting, because I was the head of my team for Spanish speaking LATAM because we felt that language was so important that Brazil had a separate team. We were two teams, we worked a lot together, but Spanish speaking had one team and then Brazil, which is Portuguese, had a different team, because we thought these two languages define a lot of differences. So it’s better to treat them this way. Here, I take care of, or work with, many markets, many languages. So that makes it tough because I think Europe or European countries, they focus a lot on the differences. Maybe LATAM strive to focus more on the similarities which makes it easier. It’s easier to focus on the similarities there so it’s easier, for instance, to have a regional campaign there because you find a common theme or a common interest. Here I think that the countries try to always focus on the differences. So that makes it interesting but also challenging. I would also say that, especially regarding strategy, the strategic level is higher in Europe, than in LATAM.

Shaheen Samavati 28:42
Cool. So we’re getting towards the end of the interview, but I wanted to make sure to ask you for some of your recommendations of resources for other marketers. I’ll ask you all in one, can you share any resources you use to keep up to date on trends, any tools or software and any other communities, publications, podcasts, things like that, that you think other marketers should know about?

Carlos Cantu 29:09
Yes. My recommendations are not going to be marketing focused, because maybe that’s my main recommendation. As marketers we need to be out there looking at what’s going on in the world, what are the new trends and the innovations in other areas. I think we spent too much time just viewing or focusing on marketing and that’s a mistake. To be a good marketer you need to be aware of what’s going on in the world. Maybe this is not proper, but I think that’s why Twitter is such a great tool for me, because Twitter is a tool that allows me to be aware of what’s happening in the world right now. More importantly what people are talking about right now. Through Twitter, if I’m going to be creating a campaign that’s in football, I can see what people are talking about around football in a specific country right now. What’s the biggest topic in the football world right now and that’s cool. That’s just an example. So for me, that would be the first advice, don’t focus on marketing, seek for innovation and creativity in art, science, technology and entertainment. That’s why maybe one of my favorite apps right now is Podcast Addict because I think podcasts are amazing. I would say that probably my favorite podcast right now is You Are Not So Smart, which is an American podcast, every time I go through a new episode, this guy introduces very smart people from different areas, a lot related to science, psychology, technology. Every time I listen to a new episode, I get inspiration. I come up with ideas that I can use in my campaigns. So Podcast Addict is one of my best, then there are 1000s of other amazing podcasts. Yeah, I think that those would be the first ones that come to my mind right now.

Shaheen Samavati 31:57
Yeah. Any book or publication?

Carlos Cantu 32:02
Yeah, well, Wired. I love The Wired, I love Contagious, they’re a few great ones. Actually, The Wired has an amazing podcast, especially the UK podcast of The Wired is really good, too. The Cannes Lion webpage is great. They always have new content, you can see the best work in the world around advertising but now they have much more than advertising. More specific around around marketing, I always take a look at Effie because I think that also shows not only what’s interesting in terms of creativity, but also in terms of effectiveness, which is very useful. Around books, I’m not reading a lot on on marketing lately but one that I try to recommend always is Grit a book by Angela Duckworth which is very, very inspiring. It convinced me that character and perseverance are maybe as or more important than your capability and your intelligence, which is very, very interesting to always keep in mind.

Shaheen Samavati 33:40
Yeah, interesting. I’ll definitely have to check that one out. I also wanted to ask about if you have any productivity tip or hack to share?

Carlos Cantu 33:50
Yeah, well something I’ve spent a lot of time working on is the creative process. When I joined Twitter, I realized maybe by working closer to engineers, and just seeing how the engineers go through their creative process, I realiszed how terrible the creative process I was following was. So my suggestion is if you’re going to be brainstorming, there are a few things that help a lot. The first one is keep your brainstorming short, when I say short, when we do brainstorming it’s 10 minute brainstorms, not more than 10 minutes. If you do it correctly that’s a lot. That gives you a lot of ideas and to make that correctly when you’re brainstorming, never judge the ideas. You’re not evaluating, if you try to evaluate the idea while you’re brainstorming, you won’t get anywhere. You need to spend 10 minutes just throwing ideas out there and just trying to get as many ideas as possible, if the idea is doable or not, if the idea sounds smart or someone else has done it, you don’t care about that, you’re trying to get as many ideas as possible. The reason for that is because the whole goal is that any idea that you can think of and you can share with the people you’re brainstorming with, will be the starting point for a new idea. So getting more ideas gives you more starting points. So keep 10 minutes throwing as many ideas as possible and then you will go through this evaluation process, which is a different thing, but never try to do both at the same time. The last recommendation is for you to be able to have a successful brainstorm in 10 minutes, and that all these ideas you’re gonna throw up there are useful at the end, you need to have a very clear brief. A very clear brief for me is one question you want to answer. If you can put your brief into one question, with all the right context, people know what’s the right context and what’s the audience. Try to answer just one question then the brain will be successful. I hope that helps.

Shaheen Samavati 36:23
Definitely, yeah, that’s a super interesting topic. Actually, I could ask you a million more questions about it but unfortunately, we’ve run out of time so I need to wrap up the interview. So I just wanted to ask you one final question about your parting advice or final takeaways for other marketers in Europe?

Carlos Cantu 36:42
Yeah. What I would say is when I started my career, the company I worked for didn’t exist. The service we offered didn’t exist, therefore my position didn’t exist. So maybe my suggestion is to always stay open. It’s always good to know where you want to head, but never stick to that role just for the sake of it. Be open to exploring other routes that might not feel obvious or might not feel it was the idea once if the step you take is positioning you in a better direction. So maybe that’s the other suggestion. It’s not so important the position you are in, it’s more important the direction you’re heading. So when you take a decision on the next step in your career, my suggestion is never decided based on the position you’re taking, but more on the direction you’re heading towards with that decision. Always prioritize the future, not the present and I think that has worked for me.

Shaheen Samavati 38:18
That’s a great note to end on. Thank you so much, Carlos, for sharing your insights with us today.

Carlos Cantu 38:25
Thank you very much, Shaheen. It’s been a pleasure, a pleasure.

Shaheen Samavati 38:29
Thank you. Thanks, everyone for listening in, for more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out and keep tuning into the podcast for more interviews with content experts. See you next time. Bye.

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