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Twitter Promoted Tweets & Accounts: A Preview

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For those of you who were hiding under a rock last year, here's some important news: Twitter released promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends. Unfortunately, most agencies couldn't get their hands on these babies, as they were mostly reserved for big brands and a handful of testers with significant budgets.

Promoted Tweets, Accounts, and Trends

Promoted tweets are quite simple: Twitter gives advertisers the ability to promote an existing standard tweet to an audience of your choice. These tweets used to only show up in the search results, which meant limited exposure.

But Twitter recently announced that Promoted Tweets that get the "resonating" mention will be inserted in the timelines of people who fit the targeted interests, which should make a huge difference in the volume of engagements.

Promoted accounts are basically a way to buy targeted followers for your Twitter account. You set the price you're willing to pay for followers, provide some keywords to help target the right people, and your Twitter follower count will start increasing steadily.

Promoted trends help advertisers with deep pockets insert a promoted trend at the top of the trends that are displayed to their audience. This product isn't available in Twitter's beta self-serve ad platform, though they do provide a link to contact sales directly on this topic.

A Self-Serve Platform

You'll all be happy to know that a few weeks ago, Twitter began testing a beta version of their upcoming self-serve ad platform.

My friend David Szetela from Clix Marketing (one of the first beta testers for this platform) visited us in Montreal last week. Clix mostly used Twitter promoted tweets to push Guy Kawasaki's promoted tweet campaigns (he's launching a new book).

Szetela took the time to show me how easy it is to create Twitter campaigns, and how he uses Acquisio to build cross-channel reports including Twitter data.

After about five minutes, I dove head first into my own account. Here's a quick overview of what I found, and what you can expect once it becomes available.

How it Works

First, you need to sign an IO (insertion order) with Twitter to start advertising. I'm not sure what the benefit of the IO system is compared to Google AdWords' simple credit card payment system (if you know, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page). Perhaps it's designed to prevent surprises for the advertiser -- like accidentally burning through thousands of dollars overnight.

You also have to verify your account with Twitter. Once you go through this process successfully, you'll receive a "verified account" badge that will permanently live on your Twitter page.

Engagement

Twitter promoted tweets work on a cost per engagement model. Engagement can be one of four actions performed by those who interact with your ad:

  • Retweet
  • Reply
  • Favorite
  • Click

The tweets I've promoted thus far are generating many more clicks than any other type of engagement, so for this advertiser, engagement pretty much equals clicks. But I'm sure eventually the number of other engagements will become meaningful -- which makes me think Twitter should offer the ability to set different prices for different types of engagement.

At the moment, it's one bid for any engagement. And the statistics oddly report only on three of the four engagement types (clicks, retweets, replies).

Campaigns

Campaigns must be linked to one IO. Campaigns can either be for promoted accounts or promoted tweets. There are no promoted trends in this interface at this time.

There are two types of campaigns:

  • Promoted tweets can be charged on a cost per engagement event (CPE) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM) model. Promoted Tweets carry a minimum CPE of $0.10 and a suggested CPE of $0.50.

  • Promoted accounts are only charged on a cost per follower (CPF) basis. They carry a minimum CPF of $0.50 and a suggested CPF of $2.

All campaigns have a beginning and end date and time. This level of granularity is well in line with the "real-time" nature of Twitter and will certainly prove useful for planning purposes.

Budgets are assigned two ways:

  • Campaign budget: This is the maximum amount of money that will be spent over the duration of the campaign.

  • Daily budget: This is used for budget pacing purposes.

Pick a Tweet

This is a little tricky. You have to find a tweet from your own account that is already running to promote.

Unfortunately Twitter doesn't provide an easy way to just add a tweet right there and then, you kind of have to open a new browser window and go tweet something good, then return, unless you're willing to just take any old tweet that you've already posted. It is encouraged to pick more than one tweet.

Keywords and Interests

Twitter uses keywords to signal interest. Keywords are proxies for interest, which is predicted based on a number of things, such as the public list of accounts a user follows. Twitter encourages advertisers to enter keywords that describe the interests of your target audience for the current campaign.

That's it. You can now save your campaign and let it run.

Statistics for Twitter campaigns are delivered in real time, so I found myself refreshing the screen nonstop for about 30 minutes when I launched my first campaign.

Reporting

Reporting is easy to understand, nothing complicated. You can report on campaign effectiveness with the following metrics.

Promoted Tweets:

  • Tweet Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Retweets
  • Replies
  • Engagement (meaning engagement rate)

Promoted Accounts:

  • Impressions
  • Account Views
  • Follows
  • Follow rate

There are some glaring omissions.

  • CPE and CPF aren't available.

  • Campaign cost can be seen on a different summary screen, the home page of what is called the "business center," but there are no details to be found anywhere.

  • There is no conversion tracking system, so you'll have to bring your own.

They did a great job on the reports but need to make some small (yet important) adjustments. The data is illustrated with line charts (performance over time) as well as a fully detailed CSV file you can download for more detailed analysis.

My Results

I didn't spend nearly enough time to draw any conclusions yet.

However, for those who are interested in preliminary results on low volume campaigns, my average engagement (engagement events/tweet impressions) is approximately 1.3 percent across all my promoted tweet campaigns. On my promoted account campaign, I got a follow rate (follows/impressions) of approximately 0.1 percent.

I suspect these are highly dependent on tweet quality and on your bid.

So here we are with yet another self-serve ad platform that we won't be able to live without, and I'm confident that this is just the tip of the Twitter advertising iceberg.

I'll be experimenting with this new platform much more over the coming days, so if any of you are interested in learning more about the platform or my results, please let me know by using the comments below.

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