Secrets to Promoted Tweets Success
Ever since it first appeared on the scene, Twitter has caused a stir among consumers and businesses alike. Marketers in particular have been clamoring to conquer this ubiquitous social media tool, despite its still questionable ability to deliver solid return on investment. In turn, Twitter itself has been anxious to provide companies with a better opportunity to market themselves online and track the direct result of their spending.
Enter Twitter’s new ad model: a “promoted tweets” function that allows advertisers to appear at the top of the search results for a particular keyword, as well as for all of its followers. Is this the answer online marketers have been waiting for? Perhaps. But as with anything, there are pros and cons to Twitter’s ad model — and smart marketers will tread carefully while exploring this new opportunity.
It goes without saying that Twitter’s user base is tremendous, generating more than 50 million tweets per day. In addition, the search function, where the new promoted tweets will appear, is estimated to churn out 600 million results per day. The scale is certainly there, but what does it really mean for a business? The value of a tweet has still not been clearly demonstrated, as there's no way to correlate most tweets to actual sales. To boot, there's no guarantee that the millions of people on the site are actually reading tweets.
Twitter has an extremely high rate of attrition and inactivity: 70 percent of accounts haven’t sent a tweet in the past week. That means a large number of users probably aren’t reading tweets regularly, either. Adding to the confusion is the fact that much of the activity on Twitter is automated, with users posting on a schedule via bots and third-party tools, which means even less reading is being done by actual humans. Add it all up, and you have the strong possibility that you’re paying for a lot of “impressions” you aren’t actually getting.
Advertisers also don’t have total control over their campaigns. The paid Twitter model allows users to decide once they’ve seen an ad whether they want to continue to see it by choosing to engage it (e.g., retweeting, following, etc.) or not. Even if the message works for you, it might not work for Twitter; so that's one more thing to work around. The criterion for this is still being updated, so it’s worth keeping regular tabs on how it might change.
So, what’s a marketer to do? Follow the same rules you would for any other uncharted online marketing channel. Test, test, test — and track, track, track. As with anything else, it’s extremely important to try different things to see what works best. Then analyze results on a regular basis to determine how or even if you want to proceed. Here are some testing and tracking best practices around promoted tweets.
Start by testing different kinds of tweets to see what resonates. Check out what other advertisers are doing to engage users, then try them for yourself. It’s OK to take some risks here; if your tweet falls flat and users don’t engage, Twitter will switch to other tweets you’ve selected.
Track insert links where applicable. First use bit.ly or a similar tool to shorten URLs to fit Twitter’s 140-character limit. Then use the same analytics platform you’re already using for your paid search campaigns to track results. Track engagement, too, by watching retweets, direct messages, etc.
Tools like Sprinklr or ObjectiveMarketer can do some of the heavy lifting analysis for you. They follow who is responding and what content they're responding to. Track the trends, and see what your user base is reacting to. You might not be able to ascribe a specific value, but you’ll be able to see trends and the impact they have on your business.
Test some more. Try Twitter-specific promotions or unique coupon codes and links, then check the impact on traffic and sales and adjust accordingly.
At the end of the day, what may be most important is to evaluate the success of your Twitter ads against your existing channels to see how they measure up. While you may not necessarily have the same ROI expectations for Twitter as you would for Facebook, Google or any other medium, it’s important to align each channel in a way that will help you best determine which ones are working and which ones aren’t. This is always your best opportunity to be strategic and allocate your dollars in the smartest way possible. And remember, even if a campaign doesn’t pay for itself, sometimes the insight and data gleaned from it can be worth just as much.