By Bill Kray
Are you familiar with Twitter demographics?
Read this whether you pay for a Twitter Ads campaign or apply the suggestions to a grassroots Twitter promotion. The first step to advertising is learning about the demographics of the platform. Who uses it? How do they use it? Why do they use it?
Twitter is a massive social media platform, growing by 190 million users each month. One sixth of the total number of Twitter users are active. This amounts 32 million people. Forty percent of them don't tweet but watch other people tweet. So as of January 1, 2014, the net audience is about 19.2 million interactive users. According to a 2013 year-end Pew Research study, 18 percent of online adults in the U.S. now use Twitter, split nearly equally among male and female.
Each Twitter user has specific interests. They may enjoy art, music, health, fitness or more provocative subjects. Hence, promoting a product on Twitter won't appeal to everyone. Fortunately, Twitter Ads allows advertisers to customize triggers for displaying Promoted Tweets. These tweets, crafted primarily for businesses, not casual users, appear in the timeline and/or search results of the target audience.
Identifying Your Twitter Audience
There are options to run ads based on the interests of key Twitter users. Suppose you're a DJ and you want to show your YouTube demo reel to people that enjoy certain genres of music. You might identify key musicians' Twitter accounts so their audience will see your Promoted Tweets.
Perhaps a more common option is keyword or key phrase matching. As implied, your ad messages are displayed when tweets include variations of the words you specify. When you first begin a campaign, Twitter Ads allows you to decide whether to pay per follower or for a broader category of engagement.
Pay Per Engagement is Not Exactly Pay Per Click
Daily and monthly budgets can be specified, with the campaign ending on a specific date or when a budget is reached. Competing advertising models from Google or Bing are based on pay-per-click (PPC) pricing which means you pay if the reader clicks the link.
Twitter is able to measure many types of interaction like expanding a summary, retweeting, replying, favoriting, following, adding to a Twitter list, playing a video, viewing an attached image, or clicking an embedded link that sends the viewer to your website. Twitter calls these actions "engagements." Sometimes images include a website link in addition to an embedded media link. It is not clear whether Twitter charges for multiple engagements during a single session by one individual. Hence, the tally of engagements will likely be higher than your Google Analytics number of inbound Twitter website visits.
A dynamic bidding system similar to Google PPC determines which tweets are promoted throughout the campaign. Twitter provides regular feedback so advertisers can disable or replace Promoted Tweets and keywords based upon performance.
How much does it cost? During a recent test, I averaged about 36 cents per engagement with about 2-3 percent response. Tweets that include images have higher engagement rates, even if they are just peeks without visiting your site, retweeting or following. Hence, the campaign may appear more successful than it truly is, while meeting established budgets more quickly.
Sometimes future followers measure your credibility based upon your list of followers. It may seem a bit shallow, but influential people attract other influencers. Besides, retweets from a foul-mouthed Tweep (Twitter follower) can tarnish a professional business reputation. If you get followed by someone that isn't a good match, you may block them.
Crafting the Ideal Tweet
You can either pick a tweet from your timeline or craft a new one. In each case, Twitter creates a virtual copy for the campaign so if you delete the original, your campaign sill runs.
The content of your tweet has a significant impact on engagement. Unless you are advertising a well-established brand, overtly commercial campaigns are unsuccessful. "ACT NOW TO SAVE BIG ON HUGE INVENTORY OF WIDGETS!!!" is likely to be considered SPAM. All caps doesn't engender readers either since it is most often interpreted as shouting.
Note the difference when a familiar brand is used: "40% Off Handbags at Macy's." Millions of people have Macy's cards. They have been to the store, looked at the prices, and likely put several items they like back on the shelves as they waited for a sale. Small businesses lack such universal audience familiarity.
If the first words out of your mouth at a party are, "Buy my widget" you will be ostracized before finishing your first cup of punch. After more social conversation, someone may inquire about your work and might be interested in making a purchase or telling others about your product if it interests them. Don't forget the first word of "social media." Users look for informative and engaging conversations. Mention something from the perspective of an individual, not a company. During the winter arctic cold front, a tweet that says, "This is the coat keeping me warm" with a photo of you wearing it in the snow and a link to the page for readers to order one is likely to get much traction.
With a 140-character limit that includes links, crafting tweets is challenging. But there is one more thing you may consider including—a hashtag. Twitter lives and breaths by them. Simply preceding a key word with a pound sign turns it into a searchable link. Since it doesn't require copying, pasting or typing, a good hashtag can result in many people locating your tweet more quickly. But don't go overboard. Research has shown that a single hashtag increases engagement by 20 percent. Adding a second one drops it back down to around 12 percent.
So now you have a compelling message, a link to your site landing page, an image link and a hashtag. The final piece of advice is leave about 20 characters free so people can customize the tweet when resending. That's right, cut it down to 115 to 120 characters total. That's the ideal tweet. The truth is, some tweets will meet all these criteria and others will not but be just as effective.
Twitter Cards Make A Difference
Sign up for Twitter Cards so when someone expands your tweet, they will see a description and photo. This allows you to pack more than 140 characters into the message. Attach a video or picture even if the Twitter Card has one since it will automatically expand and stand out among all the text-only tweets. There are many types of Twitter Cards, including Summary, Summary Large-Image and Gallery.
Twitter Ads received a user interface update on January 22, 2014. Along with it came an easier way to create Lead Generation Cards and to view analytics for each tweet. However, the number of options is worthy of a separate article.
Don't Build Campaign Around One Ad
Repetition is good but the dynamic nature of Twitter makes it unlikely that the the same person will continue to click the same ad. Simultaneously run three to five different ads. Twitter will push the ones receiving the most traction. For long campaigns, refreshing content every 2-3 days can attract attention of previous unfulfilled engagements
Timing is important. If you sell products, make certain that the advertised product is in stock so the first customer experience will be favorable. Think about what your Twitter audience will be doing during your campaign. Is it Super Bowl day? Delivering hot wings and pizza would be better received than asking men to leave their sofas and come to your store to shop for dress shoes.
The moment of truth arrives. Someone clicks the link. Where does it take them? Having a good landing page is critical. It's a page that allows the visitor to make a decision to subscribe to your blog, purchase your product or hire your services. Typically this isn't just the home page.
Is It Worth It?
Twitter Ads can definitely attract more interest and stimulate new traffic. The engagements may not convert immediately sales. You might even need to give away something as part of your ad budget. Add this to the cost of engagement and it can become costly. For example, if your cost of engagement is $.36, but there is only one sale every 1000 engagements, your customer acquisition cost is $360 plus whatever discount you offered to close the sale.
If you already have thousands of active followers, you can run a campaign, without Twitter Ads. However, it may preferable to launch a Promoted Account campaign rather than a Promoted Tweet campaign. Once you have a sufficient number of followers, future tweets can be sent without further engagement taxation. The downside is that you cannot craft an ad message. Basically, users will see your avatar and Twitter handle. If they choose to click, they can read your profile, scan your timeline and view your media gallery to see if you interest them.
If you're one of the 40 percent that follows without engaging or posts your Instagram location whenever you visit a coffee shop then you are not likely to attract many (business lead) followers yourself. Inactivity, lack of replies, sequential pleas to buy something can all be deal breakers. Twitter only charges if visitors follow. Make certain that your timeline and media are inviting enough to follow before launching a Promoted Account campaign.
There are advantages to Twitter campaigns for some. If you have a new presence, it may be worth it to generate some activity and followers. You could find other, perhaps less expensive ways to gain more Twitter followers. There are even alternative online vehicles for reaching larger audiences like Facebook, Pinterest, and Google Ads. As part of a comprehensive social media campaign, Twitter Ads, or at least better tweets, should be considered. For example, tweets can be used to drive traffic to Pinterest.
You can follow @TwitterAds for more tips. Don't miss the next blog post that explains how to prepare an attention arousing image that changes content when clicked. They potentially double engagement rate.