You may be aware that Twitter has been using advertising as a means of monetization for almost three years, now. Or you may not. Ads are actually pretty subtle on Twitter. Twitter went public late last year (public means you can now buy stocks in the company). Even though the company is valued at over 10 Billion dollars, their monetization methods are probably not raking in that much.
Facebook, on the other hand, made $1.6 Billion on advertising revenue in the second quarter of 2013 alone.
You can purchase two different types of Twitter ads. There’s one that allows you to gain more followers (called a Promoted Account Campaign) and one that allows your tweets to reach a greater following (called Promoted Tweets).
Promoted Tweets work because Twitter opens up your tweet to a new audience, including people who are not following you, based on your criteria of keywords and hashtags, or even geographical location or demographics. They appear in your main Twitter feed. All promoted Tweets are clearly marked.
Promoted Account Campaigns allow your Twitter profile to show up in the “Who to Follow” box to the left of your main stream, just under your profile info. Now, Twitter already has an algorithm to create suggestions for you based on your interests and what and who you tweet. But Promoted Account Campaigns show up at the top of the box, and are, again, clearly marked.
So, I decided to do an experiment. I got some Twitter ad credits from SocialOomph, and I thought I’d spend some of that money on a Promoted Account Campaign. I was teetering on the edge of having 7K of followers, and I wanted to reach that milestone.
I set up a campaign to run for a five days, from April 14-April 29. I set my maximum bid at $2.01, and set my budget for $5/day. I focussed my ad on social media, using the hashtag #socialmedia, and encouraging people to follow me based on the fact that I tweet a lot about Social Media. Then I gave Twitter some social media feeds that I follow, telling them that I was looking for the kinds of people that follow those peeps. Then I let ‘er rip.
The final result? After 5 days, 22K of impressions, and 62 new followers, at the price of $.40 each. That gave me a follow rate of 28%. Not bad!
Because the quality of the interactions I have on Twitter is so important to me, though, I thought I’d dig deeper, and see what kind of people were following me.
My new followers fit fairly neatly into a few categories: the social media peeps, of course, legitimate business people (who didn’t identify with social media), parodies, people who live in Vancouver (who didn’t identify with social media), artists, food people, and a entire category unto itself I’ll just call “Ew.”
Most of the followers I gained belonged to the “Vancouver” category, and there were also quite a few in “food.” New social media followers, the goal of my ad campaign, came in around third. The challenge with the Twitter ads is that I can’t separate which followers I got from the ad, and which followers I got organically. I compared the amount of followers I got during that same time frame the previous two weeks, and found that, on average, my new follower count was around 30. My new followers for the 5 day period I ran the ad was 72 (62 of those were from the paid ad).
My overall goal for the campaign was to get myself past 7,000 followers, and I certainly did achieve that. The ads work. It more than doubled the amount of new followers I normally get. But the mix of people that followed me felt relatively random (which is normal on Twitter), as opposed to feeling specifically focussed on people interested in social media. So, the ad got me numbers, but not necessarily the right numbers.
We gripe all the time about how Facebook is charging us to play in its sandbox. But truthfully, as an advertiser, I want my ad to get as many eyeballs as possible, and, ideally, as many targeted eyeballs as possible. From a user’s perspective, I question if Facebook’s ads are too (pardon me) “in your face.” But from an advertiser’s point of view, I want to be “in your face(book)”. Twitter’s ads are so much more subtle. I don’t know that I’ve even ever clicked on one before.
The challenge for any social media is to incorporate ads that don’t piss off your users (I think many people are feeling this way already about FB), but still get the job done. I can’t honestly say that Twitter’s ads are wildly effective, but if you are looking to increase your follower count, they are a much better option than purchasing followers through a service. The followers you’ll gain will still be legitimate accounts, and you may very well be able to create meaningful relationships and engagement with them.
If you want to experiment with ads on Twitter, head to: ads.twitter.com.
Have you tried using Twitter ads? What’s been your experience? I’d love to hear–please comment below.