Is your company or client active on Twitter? If so, it's time to take a look at Twitter Ads.
Twitter Ads can be an effective way to broaden your reach on Twitter and generate leads. As with any new technology, though, there are a few bugs.
If you're considering using Twitter Ads (and you should be!), here are the good and bad aspects you need to know about.
One of the biggest advantages to Twitter Ads is its flexible targeting options. Advertisers can choose a promoted account, which appears above non-promoted accounts in the "Who to follow" list.
If you want to get even more specific, try one of these targeting options:
- Keywords: Target by keywords in tweets or hashtags.
- Interests and followers: Target specific Twitter users and their followers, as well as their interests.
- Television: Target people interacting with TV content on Twitter.
On the surface, these options sound similar to those available on Google, Facebook, and other PPC platforms. But the Twitter audience is unique, and with the right targeting, businesses can generate real impact from Twitter Ads targeting.
Good Message Amplification
You're spending a lot of time on your Twitter editorial calendar, composing tweets, and interacting with your audience. While organic growth can and does happen, Twitter Ads can give you a louder megaphone. One of our clients tripled their previously-stagnant Twitter following in a few months using Twitter Ads – and generated leads in the process.
Twitter has some powerful lead generation tools that the other PPC engines haven't figured out yet: lead generation cards and website cards. Both of these innovations allow users to take action within a tweet, eliminating the need to use valuable tweet characters for a destination URL. If you're not taking advantage of lead generation cards, you really should test them now.
Good Campaign Controls
Ad scheduling is very robust in Twitter ads – you can schedule campaigns down to the minute. Of course, they also have all the expected controls: budget caps, dayparting, etc. While these features may seem like must-have's, some of the other social PPC platforms lack them.
Now, let's talk about the bad parts of Twitter Ads. In their defense, I know that the Twitter Ads team is addressing many of these issues as we speak, so we can look forward to better days ahead. Still, some of these issues are so egregious that it's surprising we even need to talk about them.
Bad Date Ranges
Dealing with date ranges is probably my single biggest complaint about using the Twitter Ads interface.
For starters, the date range isn't sticky across screens. I'll set it to "Last 14 Days" on the home screen, navigate to one of my campaigns, and all of a sudden it's back to "Last 3 months" or whatever it likes to revert to.
While it's not hard to change it back to "Last 14 Days," it is frustrating, and an unnecessary extra step. It's common for PPC interfaces to have a sticky date range across screens – Twitter Ads definitely needs this.
Also, the time zone is set at Pacific Time. There is no way to change it to your local time zone. So if you're on the East coast and need to schedule a tweet for noon, you'll have to remember to set it for 9am.
Twitter is a real time medium. Why make us look at data in only one time zone?
Custom date ranges are also annoying in Twitter Ads. Want to run a report for specific dates? It looks like that's not possible:
Most interfaces have a "Custom" date range option; Twitter Ads doesn't appear to have one. In reality, you can manually type dates into the box (e.g., "16 May 2014 6am – 18 May 2014 6am" and click "Update"), but that's not intuitive at all. I only discovered this out of desperation when trying to prepare a client report.
Bad Display of Active Tweets
One of the first things I like to look at when I log in to Twitter Ads is the tweets that are currently being promoted, to see how they're performing. Alas, it's harder than it needs to be:
See anything on this screen that indicates which tweets are currently live? Me neither.
To see which promoted tweet is active, you have to click "Edit Campaign" and look at the list of currently promoted tweets – and then toggle back to the screen with performance data (and then update the date range, because it's not sticky). Adding a simple "Active" indicator would save several minutes per campaign.
Bad Campaign Editing
When Google AdWords first launched inline campaign editing several years ago, the community rejoiced at the ability to change budgets, pause and unpause campaigns, ad groups, and keywords, and edit bids all on the main campaign screen. Today, inline editing is a PPC standard – unless you're using Twitter Ads.
If you need to change your daily budget, campaign end dates, or other simple features, you'll have to take the extra step of going to the "Edit Campaign" screen.
This one is so basic, it's hard to believe when you see it. There is no easy way to navigate from one campaign to another in Twitter Ads.
From the home screen, you can click "Edit" and edit any campaign, but once you're ready to look at a different campaign, there's no way to navigate right to it. You'll need to click the "Home" button, go back to the home screen, and navigate from there. What should be simple with a drop-down or breadcrumbs is frustrating instead.
Also, the available data on screen changes when you change campaigns. Let's say you're looking at results by handle in a given campaign, and then you want to see the same data for another campaign. There's no way to do this – again, you'll navigate to the home screen, navigate to the campaign you want, change the date range, and then select "Handles." What should take one step takes 4-5.
Finally, the "Cancel" button doesn't function as expected. It doesn't take you back to the screen you were just on. Let's say you've navigated to a campaign, and then clicked Edit so you can look at targeting or bids. Hitting "Cancel" takes you not to the campaign screen, but all the way back to the home screen (and a different date range than what you were looking at).
Despite all the negative usability issues, I'm a big fan of Twitter Ads. They have actual reps you can talk to about campaign performance and optimization. They're launching innovative ad formats that make it easier for advertisers to achieve their goals. The results are good. Now all we need is a better interface!