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Twitter is one of the most famous and commonly used social platforms on the Earth, it has millions of monthly active users. In the meantime, most of the social platforms we are using has advertising options for businesses to advertise for their products and services through their platforms, and this method has proven its credibility in returning high-interest rate “ROI” and excellent results for businesses to grow and enlarge.
Twitter, as a famous social platform, also has the same option for advertising through it, but it’s a little bit different.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has said that advertising is the centrepiece of the company’s business model. But Twitter doesn’t want to run boring display advertising with big banners. It wants ads to feel unobtrusive and part of the system. So what are Twitter Ads exactly? And how well do they work? Let’s find out.
What are Twitter Ads?
Twitter Ads come in three flavours:
Promoted Trends: Promoted Trends put a sponsored topic at the top of Twitter’s “trending topics” box, which reflects the most-discussed topics on Twitter at any given time.
Promoted Tweets: This one is big, promoted Tweets are tweets that are Ads. they show up at the top of searches on related topics, at the top of a user’s timeline when the user follows the account and, soon, everywhere.
Promoted Accounts: Twitter suggests users for people to follow; promoted accounts puts these accounts at the top of the queue and are a way for brands to gain more followers.
Here are the details
Brands buy placement at the top of the trending topics section. Twitter promotes its trending topics heavily, on its website and in its mobile apps.
Companies can buy “Promoted Trends” by the day, per geography. Twitter was recently selling them for 120,000 Pounds per day, per geography.
The appeal of promoted trends is that they spark discussion among consumers to enhance the brand’s image. They also allow advertisers to drive Twitter users to their website via links and amass new Twitter followers. The latter will give the advertiser a direct communication channel with Twitter unless/until the Twitter user “un-follows” the brand.
So for example, During Hurricane Irene, MyWeather.com used a promoted trend to promote itself next to tweets on Hurricane Irene. This is smart because the two services are related, and people are going to be naturally searching twitter for updates on live news like a hurricane.
Okay so, how well do “promoted trends” work?
The Bad: Social media can be hit and miss and ROI can be hard to track. In one case study of a campaign by Lexus promoting its CT Hybrid, two things went awry. First, because promoted trends show tweets from regular users alongside the brand’s tweet, they can show spam or derogatory tweets. Second, in the Lexus campaign, few people clicked on the link in the promoted trend, although Twitter would argue clicks matter less than overall engagement “retweets and replies”
The Good: some companies have had success with promoted trends. An early case was coca-cola, which was the second buyer of a promoted trend. The ad generated 86 million impressions and a 6% engagement rate “retweets, replies or clicks”, both of which the company said it was happy with.
Another successful case study is Al-Jazeera, which promoted its English-language Twitter account during the Arab spring, social-fresh writes. Al-Jazeera, which wasn’t carried by US cable networks then, used social media marketing to get its online streams in the form of American viewers at a time when they wanted al Jazeera’s coverage.
Mentions of al Jazeera skyrocketed after the promoted trend. Importantly, they also stayed high for a long time, suggesting that the trend worked in putting al Jazeera at the top of Twitter users’ minds.
To be sure, al Jazeera’s success wouldn’t have happened without the Arab spring and the global excitement happening at the same time, but on a real-time media channel like Twitter, it is up to brands and marketers to take advantage of what’s happening. Al Jazeera’s metrics after its promoted trend are still impressive.
The promise of promoted trends is a holy grail of social media marketing: the capacity for a brand to generate “mostly” organic social media conversations at will. It seems that the promoted trends product doesn’t provide this every time, but that when it does, it’s very effective. If Twitter can refine the product, they will probably have something that’s like crack to marketers.
Last we heard, promoted trends were sold for 120,000 pounds a day.
This one is pretty straight forward. Twitter already recommends people for users to follow. The recommendation is based on a simple algorithm; Twitter suggests that users follow people whom the people they follow are following.
With promoted accounts, brands can buy their way into the suggestion box and gain followers.
Twitter prices the ad per new follower. The price is set at auction.
Promoted accounts make perfect sense. Brands are on twitter to broadcast their message, and getting new followers is how they do that. A lot of ad spending on Facebook is driven by brands getting more fans for their pages; the same logic works here. And brand follows have already been commercialized with things like sweepstakes “retweets this and follow us for a chance to win an IPad!”. It’s an organic extension of the Twitter product that makes sense for everyone – Twitter, brands and users.
Twitter promotes its “Who to follow” feature heavily, with a tab at the top of every page. So “promoted accounts” are always in front of users. In the screenshot below, see the account at the bottom, with the small “promoted” icon underneath it.
They’re what Twitter expects to be its big moneymaker. Here’s how they work.
Promoted tweets are tweets that are also ads. They appear in three places:
1- on top of search results for certain terms.
2- on top of the user’s Twitter timeline if they follow the account that the tweet originated from,, and starting very recently.
3- in the timelines of users who are not following the brand’s account.
Twitter has just begun rolling out the last kind of promoted tweets – those that appear in the timelines of users who aren’t following the advertiser’s account. According to industry observer John Battelle, Twitter believes putting promoted Tweets in user’s timelines will be its big money maker.
Targeting here will be key, both in terms of advertisers ROI and user acceptance.
Right now, Twitter targets these tweets based on “lookalike” users who behave similarly to users who also follow the account. The company is going to have more targeting options in the future. Based on the kind of Twitter accounts a user follows and other data like keywords in tweets, Twitter will be allowing advertisers to target ads based on:
Interests like movies, consumer electronics .. etc
Audiences like influencers, conversationalists
Other obvious options include geotargeting and device targeting. The broad rollout of promoted tweets suggests that Twitter is moving in the same direction as TV, newspapers, and other ad-supported media: people tune in to be entertained and informed. And like the other media, this content is presented with commercial interruption.
As with TV, people like to complain about ads, but the still watch them and are influenced by them. Whenever an online service does something, especially related to advertising, some people get up in arms but we doubt twitter usage will be seriously affected by the impending broad advertising rollout. Both the history of other services and surveys of Twitter users suggest that when a service rolls out advertising, a vocal minority complains but usage is ultimately unaffected.
And as with TV, newspapers and other media, impressions work. Twitter’s ad products are still at an early stage, but broader promoted tweets or something like them is clearly the paths of the future. If Twitter can get targeting and ROI measurement right, promoted tweets should be successful for advertisers and therefore the company as well.