Ever since its IPO in November, Twitter has been soaring, not only as a stock (TWTR), but also as an enhanced social network for advertisers and content marketers alike.  Feeling Wall Street pressure to monetize the value of its 230 million+ active users, Twitter is launching new advertising and promotion offerings while enhancing those that have generated an estimated $582 million in ad revenue in 2013.  These efforts are keeping it well on track to an estimated $950 million in ad revenue in 2014 according to eMarketer.  Let’s take a look at the advertising and promotion opportunities on Twitter.

Promotion

First, let’s look at the free ways to make Twitter work for you as a promotional tool.

Images and Videos – Research shows that Tweets sent out with an image or video have triple the engagement rates of a simple text-based tweet.  Clearly we are in an era where visual assets are important in the marketing mix. Twitter has facilitated this technique not only with the launch of Vine, their short-form video tool, but also by placing tweets with visuals “front and center in user’s timelines”.  Here’s a Vine explaining this enhancement.

Call-to-Action – In addition, tweets with a request to re-tweet or some other call-to-action have a higher level of engagement as demonstrated because users take action and respond to the request.

Hashtags – Twitter uses hashtags as a way for users to aggregate and curate content around a topic of interest to them.  Some marketers are experimenting with attaching their tweets to trending hashtags like #BlackFriday or #SmallBizSat according to MarketingLand.  This results in their tweets showing up in timelines of those tracking a particular hashtag and also positions the organization as being on top of relevant trends.  Watch out that you don’t “hijack” a hashtag like Kenneth Cole did with their #Cairo tweet at the height of the unrest in Egypt in 2011, when they tweeted:

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo.  Rumor is they heard our new Spring Collection is now available online”

Needless to say, the tweet generated lots of negative press for the company and Kenneth Cole himself.

Enhanced User Profiles – Twitter introduced enhanced user profiles last year, that allowed for greater brand identification through larger images in your Twitter account.  Here’s a video explaining how to set these up:


Advertising

Twitter Advertising Opportunities

According to a recent Advertising Age survey, social media spending on Twitter in the next year is projected to increase by 59.2% of marketers surveyed.  See the figure below for additional data from the survey.

 

The survey found that advertisers were using Twitter for the following objectives in rank order of importance:

  1. Brand and Company Awareness
  2. Generating Traffic to Website
  3. Building Followers
  4. Generating Leads
  5. Generating Sales
  6. Staying in Touch with Customers

Among the Twitter advertising opportunities for you to explore are the following:

Promoted Tweets – these are tweets that promote a specific message from an organization to its current and prospective follower base (see the Silver Peak message below).
Promoted Tweet
Promoted Accounts – this is where an advertiser’s account is being promoted to prospective followers with the advantage that you only pay for new followers (see the NEA account below).

Promoted Trends – these are ads attached to popular trends.  Typically this type of ad buy would not be one for a smaller business to consider (see #theVoice below).

Twitter Advertising Opportunity

While these are all interesting options, what makes them even more valuable for effective advertising is Twitter enhancements to their advertising platform to allow for advertising targeting of Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets based on the following criteria:

  • Keywords in timeline – Target based on users recent tweets or based on the tweets that they have engaged with.
  • Interest – Twitter reports an ability to select from over 350 interests.
  • Gender
  • Geography – While Twitter allowed advertisers to select geo-targeting advertising parameters including country, state, province or DMA (Designated Market Area), they now have added the very useful parameter of zip code targeting according to MarketingLand.
  • Similarity to other followers – For example, you could choose to advertise only to people similar to those who follow a particular user.  Twitter uses the example of a golf shop advertising to those similar to followers of @GolfChannel.  
  • Device (mobile – Android, iOS; desktop) – A useful targeting criteria for those creating apps for specific devices and operating systems.

Twitter Lead Generation Cards – Twitter introduced lead generation cards last spring.  The tool allows users to generate one of 8 types of “cards” that can be used for promoting content, generating leads or some other action.  I’ve seen this used by companies to get sign-ups for newsletters and webinars.  You can find out more about these cards and see some examples in this recent Social Media Examiner blog posting or in this Pin.

Local Twitter Advertising – Of special interest to local advertisers, is the opportunity for geographical targeting of your Twitter advertising.  As referenced earlier, Twitter recently rolled out the geo-targeting at the zipcode level for promoted accounts and tweets to help local advertisers more effectively target prospects.  Twitter is also experimenting with a new local timeline called Nearby that would allow local advertisers to target those in a narrow geographic area according to CMSWire.

If you are considering advertising on Twitter here are the steps you would follow:

  1. Set up Your account – sign up for a Twitter advertising account to start placing your ad campaigns.
  2. Access the Advertiser Self Service Panel – much like with pay-per-click ads in search engine marketing, advertisers can access advertising options and generate Twitter ads through a self-service advertising interface online.
  3. Establish Your Budget – once you have set up your account and developed your campaign, you can set a maximum daily spend for Twitter ad in each campaign.
  4. Determine Your Bid Amount Per Action – you get to set an amount that you are willing to pay for a follow or a click.
  5. Develop and Target Your Tweets – set up the tweet based on the targeting criteria explained earlier.
  6. Analyze Results – Twitter has also continued to enhance their tracking capabilities, so that advertisers can see how well their investments in ads on the social network are performing through conversion tracking as measured by attribution to Twitter ads.

Stay tuned for other Twitter ad targeting including re-targeting where Twitter is able to use cookie information on sites that you’ve visited to generate Twitter ads based on this interest according to a mid-summer Twitter blog posting.

For more information on Twitter’s advertising initiatives follow their account on Twitter @TwitterAds and consider following their business account @TwitterSmallBiz.

For additional insights and tips on Twitter see my earlier blog posting “Advancing by Re-Tweeting – the Next Steps in Using Twitter”.  You can also find out more about social and digital marketing strategies and tactics, by adding me to your circles at my Google+ page, following me on Twitter @theWebChef or following my boards on Pinterest.

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