Twitter and American Express have announced a new partnership that will see the companies offer $100 of complimentary Twitter advertising to the first 10,000 SMBs that sign up.
Businesses must have American Express accounts; such participants will temporarily gain exclusive access to Twitter's much-anticipated self-service advertising system. The system has been testing with brand partners for months.
The main idea behind the promotion is to get the SMBs hooked on Twitter the way many of them have latched onto Facebook and Google advertising.
Amex's 10-month-old Facebook partnership may provide some guidance on whether the new initiative will be a boon to Twitter. Without revealing specific numbers, Leslie Berland, Amex SVP of digital partnerships and development, suggests that her brand's millions of small business card members have taken to Facebook marketing.
"I would say the card members in our network are very engaged on Facebook and very interested in advertising and marketing on Facebook," Berland said. "We were very focused in the first number of months on bringing visibility to [Facebook advertising] and explaining it to our card members."
As one example of her company's Facebook-oriented outreach to SMBs in April 2011, Amex launched a contest called "Facebook Big Break for Small Business," giving small businesses the chance to win $20,000 in cash and a trip to Facebook's headquarters. Five winners were flown to northern California to attend a "boot camp" on Facebook advertising and marketing. In addition, 10 runners-up were awarded $2,500 worth of credit for Facebook ads.
The current commitment by Amex and Twitter - $1 million worth of free ads - seemingly dwarfs last year's Facebook contest. Facebook has also tried to lure local businesses by offering $50 in advertising credits.
At the same time, educating SMBs about the possible value of Twitter marketing will once again be key to Amex's effort. The New York-based credit card firm will lean on its Open Forum microsite to provide how-to information on buying Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts, which will be the ad units sold on Twitter's self-serve platform next month.
Promoted Trends Pricing Update: Non-U.S. Marketers Paying Less?
Promoted Trends won't be available on the self-service platform. In concerns to that ad unit, Twitter told ClickZ that it's made pricing more nuanced for international brands.
While U.S. companies are still charged $120,000 per day for the ads - which up until five months ago were global purchases - marketers in countries like Japan and the U.K. are charged at different rates. San Francisco-based Twitter wouldn't specify those rates, but it's probably fair to assume ads in the foreign markets cost less.
After all, according to a recent Semiocast study, the lion's share of Twitter users are in the U.S. Paris-based Semiocast found there are 107.7 million accounts in America, while Brazil places second with 33.3 million and Japan has 29.9 million.