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Dec 30, 201302:50 PMThe Web Chef's Cafe

with Paul Gibler

How to use Twitter for advertising and promotion

(page 1 of 2)

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. Feeling Wall Street pressure to monetize the value of its 230 million-plus 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.


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 simple text-based tweets. Clearly we are in an era in which visual assets are important in the marketing mix. Twitter has facilitated this technique not only with the launch of Vine, its short-form video tool, but also by placing tweets with visuals “front and center in users’ timelines.” Here’s a Vine explaining this enhancement.

Call to action: In addition, tweets with a request to retweet or some other call to action have a higher level of engagement 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. According to MarketingLand, some marketers are experimenting with attaching their tweets to trending hashtags like #BlackFriday or #SmallBizSat. 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 its #Cairo tweet at the height of the unrest in Egypt in 2011, when the company 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 for Kenneth Cole himself.        

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


Secondly, let’s look at the paid opportunities to use Twitter in your advertising mix.

According to a recent Advertising Age survey, social media spending on Twitter in the next year is projected to increase by 59.2%. 

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

  1. Brand and company awareness
  2. Generating traffic to websites
  3. Building followers
  4. Generating leads
  5. Generating sales
  6. Staying in touch with customers

Among the paid advertising opportunities for you to explore on Twitter 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 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).

While these are all interesting options, what makes them even more valuable for advertisers are the enhancements to Twitter’s advertising platform that 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 previously allowed advertisers to select geo-targeting advertising parameters including country, state, province, or DMA (designated market area), it has now 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 @GolfDigestMag or @GolfChannel.
  • Device (mobile — Android, iOS; desktop): A useful targeting criterion for those creating apps for specific devices and operating systems.


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