In April 2010, Twitter launched its own advertising platform, however, only a few select companies can access Promoted Tweets, due to Twitter’s stress on retaining “resonance” with the tweets they sponsor. They have banned in-stream advertising by 3rd party ad companies, but existing Twitter advertisers claim that it’s “business as usual”, and that their practises still adhere to the new Twitter guidelines.
There are a variety of options to choose from, but our main contenders deal with either building up a worthwhile following and bidding on relevant keywords (via TweetUp for example), or Self- Service Advertising, which means paying for ads to be broadcast by registered Twitter publishers, who tweet your message to their followers (such as Magpie, Ad.ly, Tweetad etc). Research is the key to making a success of these types of advertising, and if you’re in need of help, consider an SEO company to assist with the technicalities of your campaign.
Self-service platforms operate on a mutually beneficial relationship between advertisers and Twitter users. Advertisers pay for an ad, which then gets tweeted by registered users who get paid for promoting brands they wish to support. These “Content Creators” or “Publishers” are matched to appropriate advertisers, and tweet their desired message to their followers.
The premise works on the power of word-of-mouth recommendation – a form of marketing we are more likely to respond to, because we receive the information through someone we know and trust. Publishers are sometimes allowed to rephrase or adapt the original ad to their own way of speaking, and these messages are submitted for approval from the advertiser before going live.
Celebrities have bought into this advertising method, realising the influence they have on Twitter, and taking full advantage of it. You’ll be looking at upwards of $1000 per tweet to buy the services of a top celebrity tweeter, but there are many other influential profiles to choose from, and by narrowing your preferences down to a highly targeted audience, the return on a few choice tweets can be very rewarding.
Advertisers have several options of payment and and rates vary between platform. By filling in various preferences when setting up your campaign, most platforms will advise a ballpark figure for what you should aim to spend. Some require a minimum spend and most base their prices on metrics such as the influence power of the tweet publisher.
Ad.ly prices depend on the campaign, keywords and chosen publisher. CTR generally ranges between 1%-3.5%. Your dashboard gives you tracking information, and recently launched Ad.ly Analytics gives you even more in-depth data on your Twitter account and its activity.
Featured advertisers using Ad.ly include: Toyota, Microsoft and its affiliate sites like msn and bing, Universal, NBC, Sony, Kia, American Airlines and The Wall Street Journal, and celebrities often use their influential power to promote Ad.ly tweets in their own feeds.
Serving over 17 million followers, Magpie claims to hold the title of the original ad network for Twitter. Its pricing is based on how your maximum CPM bids fair against other advertisers with the same keywords. Minimum spend for a campaign is $20.00. A full range of campaign management tools are available to help you.Featured advertisers using Magpie include: Playstation, Hershey’s, Burger King, Tetra Pak, The Sun, LG, Heineken, Audi, Bacardi and XBOX 360.
Sponsored Tweets allows you to filter for your tweeters according to: number of followers, location, follower ratio, maximum amount you want to spend on each tweet and other variables. You can then handpick the tweeters you prefer. Prices are based on a CPMF, which takes into account the cost per tweet and the number of followers the publisher has.
Twittad follows the same methodology as other self-service ad platforms, and includes the addition of “Targeted Tweets” – automated @replies and DMs in response to targeted keywords or location. There are two types of campaign: 2 tweets published over 3 days, or 3 tweets over 5 days. You can target your audience via a number of preferences, including information on publishers’ followers. For Target Tweets, you are able to set a maximum daily budget on your auto replies, which cost $0.05 per tweet.
General Tips for Self-Service Ads:
- Don’t phrase your ad in the first person – whoever is retweeting your message does not, in fact, own your business, so saying “I’m offering X number of freebies today…” is going to look bizarre coming from a random source.
- Research your chosen publishers before you choose them – look at their tweet history to see what kind of things they talk about, and the response to their conversations. Make sure their thousands of followers haven’t been attained via automated keyword following, in which case their followers might not be interested in what they have to say after all.
- Popular tweets are often topical, funny or offer a competition or promotion.
- Test the water before you blow the big bucks – try out small bids and low cost tweets at first to see their reaction, and play about with targeting different keywords and demographics to see what works best.
- Target your audience carefully. Research the followers of your chosen publisher to ensure that they will be preaching to the right crowd.
Search Based Advertising
RiotWise is an offshoot of OneRiot’s social media search engine, and offers a range of advertising options for marketers, including self-service ads, matching advertisements with trending topics. OneRiot uses its TTFA (trending topics forecast algorithm) to predict topics that will trend in the near future. Due to this “realtime relevance”, CTR is meant to be 3-4x the industry norm for this type of advertising.
Campaigns work by OneRiot indexing an advertiser’s content from their site or blog, from which it extracts chosen keywords and creates relevant ads to match current trending topics. Revenue is shared between the advertiser and RiotWise.
A newcomer to the Twitter advertising arena is TweetUp, offering a different, search-based platform. It’s too soon to say how successful this network will be, as the whole program has yet to go fully live, but it is definitely one to watch.
TweetUp is the brainchild of Bill Gross, dubbed “the AdSense of Twitter”. It doesn’t plant ads in timelines, so does not violate the new terms. The Idealab company works by raising the best and most relevant tweets “above the noise”, increasing visibility and attracting targeted followers. TweetUp works via a ranking algorithm which bases each tweet’s score on the tweeter’s number of followers, influence, number of retweets and so on. Ranking is also influenced by keyword bidding (though bidding alone is “not enough to boost [a tweet] to the top,” according to Gross). TweetUp 101 gives a good overview of how things work.
TweetUp is free to register, and your tweets will then be indexed and scored by TweetUp, showing up in search results according to how you rank against others using the same or similar keywords. The service is free unless you choose to bid on keywords to boost your position. A relatively new service, live since the end of May 2010, TweetUp is going up against Twitter’s Promoted Tweets as a long term solution to Twitter visibility, claiming that its aim is to build followers and loyalty with quality tweets for a company’s overall growth. Bidding is not yet enabled, but the TweetUp search platform is already in place with influential sites such as Seesmic, TechCrunch, TweetDeck, Answers.com and Twitterfeed, with bidding to follow in the next few months.
Twitter can be a beneficial asset to any marketing campaign, or to increase awareness of your business or product. Linking Twitter advertising with your ads on other social media networks or a blog can maximise its effectiveness. But first and foremost, do your research thoroughly to find out the best way of approaching your Twitter ads and reaching your target audience. If you plan on sticking with Twitter, concentrate on making your business account as successful as possible to give you extra authority in the network. And remember, Twitter is all about the conversation, it never responds well to blatant marketing pushes or hard-sell blurb. Make what you’re talking about interesting, amusing and genuine if you want it to work for you.