Should you advertise on Twitter?
You can also elect to have Twitter promote your account to those it thinks are similar to your existing followers; given that you don’t pay unless they follow you, I don’t see any reason to avoid ticking that box.
Twitter also allows you to target accounts by interest, but if you’ve identified the appropriate usernames to target in the first place, there should be a lot of crossover.
To minimise the parameters in your experiment, consider restricting your campaign to a specific geographical location, even if you serve a global audience. I only ship within the UK, so I chose that location for my adverts. I also focused on a female audience, since this covers most of our customers.
Cost per follower
Finally, you’re invited to specify an overall budget for your campaign, a daily spending limit and a maximum bid per follower. Pay keen attention to these figures: although the first two are at your discretion, Twitter has an absurdly optimistic opinion of the value of each follower.
I laughed out loud at its suggestion of up to £2.20 per follow, a recommendation so utterly ludicrous that I almost stopped the experiment before it began. Were this realistic, I couldn’t expect to attract followers for any affordable amount.
Fortunately, years of AdWords experience has taught me that ad providers’ estimates are to be ignored, so I adjusted that down to a maximum of 45p. I still wouldn’t pay anything like that in the long term, but I needed to get enough data for this experiment, and Twitter predicted I’d reach just under one million users – a decent sample size, were it believable.
Easy to use
Sniggering aside, the developers at Twitter have put a lot of effort into the user interface and workflow involved in setting up and managing campaigns, making it the easiest of the major ad platforms to use.
In terms of sophistication, Twitter’s advertising is roughly on a par with Facebook’s and Bing’s, but it beats both for usability. It’s also much easier on the eye than Google’s AdWords interface, although it doesn’t come close to AdWords’ level of sophistication.
Once you’re up and running, you’re treated to a well-designed campaign control panel with which you can track the impact of your promotions. Twitter measures the effectiveness of each campaign using “engagement metrics”, which in the case of a promoted account equates to the number of new followers acquired.
I spent a total of £4.06 attracting 13 new followers for a “cost per acquisition” of 31p. My promoted account was seen almost 10,000 times and yielded a “follow rate” of 0.14%, which is low, but not untypical of Facebook’s equivalent ad type.
Puzzlingly, 11 of the new users followed me in the final hours of the campaign. Given the small amount of data so far, I can’t draw any concrete conclusions, except that it looks as though account promotion could be effective for adding new followers – at a cost.
For most practical purposes, promoted tweets are likely to be more useful to online marketers. Their main benefit is that they expose your tweets to any portion of the Twitter audience you choose, not only to your own followers. The tweets themselves behave like standard tweets, except for the addition of text that indicates they’ve been paid for.
The process of setting up a tweet campaign is much the same as for promoted accounts, although you can now choose to target your promotions at keywords, rather than followers of other Twitter accounts.
For example, you might time a promotion to coincide with an event such as the World Cup, targeting hashtags and keywords likely to be in use at that time. You can also target specific technology platforms; if you want your promotion to appear only to users browsing on Android tablets, you can do this.
Pick a tweet
Aside from setting a budget – and ignoring the ludicrous default bid – all that remains is to select a tweet, or series of tweets, to promote.
Again, don’t let Twitter choose for you; you should have already written and published the tweet you’re going to promote, so you can select it from the list.
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