Will new Twitter ads ruin the service like ads ruined Facebook?
Twitter has announced that it will be rolling out 15 new ad formats soon, and on the mind of all active Twitter users is the question: is this plethora of new ad formats foreshadowing the demise of the popular microblogging platform?
I chatted this morning with King 5's technology reporter Renay San Miguel about how Twitter ads work and what we can expect from the new ad formats. Renay and I have been Tweeting at each other for quite some years now, but this is only the second time we've met in person, which in itself is a good argument for promotions not having killed Twitter just yet.
Why the new ads won't ruin Twitter
Twitter has been offering promoted Tweets and Accounts for quite some time now, and it's a good sign that they don't seem to have cluttered users' streams with useless content quite yet. Promoted Tweets increase the visibility of Tweets within relevant users' streams, and promoted accounts increase the visibility of an organization's account to relevant users, most obviously in the Who to Follow recommendations on Twitter.com. So maybe adding new ad formats won't ruin Twitter, right?
And there is one key reason why the new ads most likely won't provide a worse experience: because, unlike Facebook ads, the Twitter algorithm doesn't remove unpaid content from any user's feed. When Facebook implemented advertising, brand page's reach decreased dramatically. When Facebook changed the algorithm yet again, the reach decreased even more. Today, only about 6% of a page's fans actually see its content without paid promotion. And I can confirm that based on the analytics of pages that I operate. On a page with about 3,000 fans, only around 250 on average see each post.
Happily, while Twitter ads do expand the reach of a Tweet, they do not conversely decrease the reach of any unpromoted Tweets. This is good news for both brands and for users.
The new formats
When you think about it, the app install ad makes a lot of sense: app purchases tend to be impulsive, spur-of-the-moment decisions, and Twitter is nothing if not real-time and impulsive. Personally, I like the idea of not having to click through to a site and then the app store but rather clicking to try out a new app directly from a Tweet. You?
Three keys to Twitter ads
If you ask me if Twitter ads work, I'll answer "it depends on your goals." Twitter ads have been used successfully to move product, to increase brand awareness and to increase engagement. American Apparel, for instance, has had tremendous success with flash sales, moving over $50,000 of product in one hour's time. And let's not forget Arby's famous Tweet referring to Pharrell Williams' Grammy hat, which has been calculated to have earned the fast-food franchise over $22 million in free advertising. Likewise, dating site HowAboutWe ran a Twitter campaign of promoted Tweets combined with a $50 coupon and determined that its Twitter-generated traffic was 20% more likely to result in a paying account than traffic generated from any other marketing media, including traditional ones.
That being said, the basic rules of Twitter still apply to promoted Tweets. Follow the three T's: targeting, timeliness and titillation.
- Targeting. Use Twitter's geo- and interest-targeting to narrow down the audience for any promoted content and to make the most of your marketing dollars.
- Timeliness. Take advantage of the fact that Twitter, unlike Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn, is a real-time platform. Consider adding a time-sensitive element to your Twitter ad campaign by linking it to a live event or by time-limiting the offer.
- Titillation. This should actually read "relevant" or "engaging," but neither of those words begin with a T, so let's go with "titillation." As with all other social media, the best content is the content that is relevant and engaging to your followers. How do you know what is relevant and engaging, or titillating? Listen first, monitor keywords, and seek out opportunities to engage organically in conversations. The organic content that is most engaging is the best content to promote with paid advertising, because you already know it resonates with your followers.
What about you? If you are a business, what has been your experience with Twitter ads? As a user, have you clicked on a Twitter ad yet?