3 Lessons For Better Promoted Tweet Campaigns

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Promoted Tweets

My company, Argyle Social, was invited to participate in the Promoted Tweets beta as of January 24, 2011. For the past five months, we’ve used the channel fairly actively.

Some campaigns have gone well and others have gone nowhere. The entire process has been quite a learning experience, and in this article I want to share some of what I’ve learned with you.

Running a promoted tweets campaign is not the same as running an SEM or display campaign. Promoted tweets are different in a few ways:

  1. They are organic content.
    They get inserted into the regular stream of content and you have to publish them as regular tweets from your account.
  2. They are only shown if they have high engagement rates.
    1% is an absolute minimum, but you will need more to do well.
  3. They run on very short cycles.
    If you don’t show engagement within the first 6 hours, your tweet gets killed. If you show high engagement at first and it then drops off, your tweet gets killed.

1. Your Copy Needs to Read Like a Tweet

When people go to Google, they expect to see ads on the right side of search results. If they don’t want to see them, they just ignore them. If they want to see the ads, they scan them quickly. People expect these ads to read like ads–promotional, lots of exclamation points, exactly like the AC repair ad here.

AC Repair Ad

When people log in to Twitter, they expect to see people talking. As an advertiser, Twitter has given you the superhuman ability to insert yourself into millions of conversations happening around the world. Remember that when writing your tweet–you need to fit into the conversation!

If you don’t, people will ignore you. And if people ignore you, your tweet will show low engagement and quickly stop getting shown.

2. Promoted Tweet Engagement is Early in the Sales Funnel

Similar to the lesson above, you need to be mindful of the environment you’re participating in. People often go to Google to search for products to buy, but they don’t want to be sold on Twitter. Use Promoted Tweets to gently nudge viewers from awareness to interest.

  1. Give value — Provide people value by sharing white papers or interesting media related to your product.
  2. Think long-term — Once the user takes that initial step indicating interest in your brand, make sure that you have thought through your ongoing engagement strategy.
  3. Don’t expect quick sales — Whether you plan to nurture these prospects via social media, email or re-targeting, it will be this ongoing interaction that leads to sales, not the initial click.

One caveat here, B2C companies with low-cost products and high brand awareness can get away with promoting special offers, but make sure you’re targeting these offers well enough to get high engagement rates.

3. Be Timely. Be Targeted.

Twitter is the only ad platform that allows you to target what people are doing right that instant. This is its huge strength: you can find people wherever and whenever there is a hashtag or a search phrase.

Conferences are the ultimate combination of topical and timely–you can find every person who is tweeting at a short-duration event just by using its hashtag. You could also target #imhungry if you’re a taco truck in San Francisco and it’s lunchtime.

The downside of being timely and targeted is that if you’re not, you won’t get engagement. And if you don’t get engagement, your tweet won’t run for long.

Creating effective Promoted Tweet campaigns takes a lot of time if you want to do it correctly. Your messaging needs to be updated regularly to stay fresh, and you need to make sure that every impression is as relevant to that user as you can possibly make it. If you do a good job of this you’ll achieve amazing results, but don’t think you can get away with spending an hour a week on it.

Our Experiences

As I said earlier, our experiences with Promoted Tweets were hits and misses, but on the whole we were very happy with our participation in the beta. Over the last five months we’ve had 63,000 impressions, 2,000 clicks and 100 retweets and replies. While I can’t share specific cost information, I can tell you that the cost per click has been favorable when compared to other channels.

As I mentioned earlier, this channel engages people at a much earlier stage in the funnel. We showed much more success offering white papers and in-person interaction, which we then looped into our existing email and social nurture campaigns.

Social Fresh Tampa

Our most successful use of Promoted Tweets was to get attention and encourage networking at Social Fresh Tampa back in February, 2011. We were an event sponsor and had a booth, so we wanted to get as much exposure out of it as possible. We ran a series of Promoted Tweets targeted to the conference hashtag that were cheeky, simply attempting to get people to show up at our booth and say hi to us. Here’s an example:

Promoted Tweet

Those people that clicked the link went here, which was even more irreverent. Again, the goal was to get people interested and engaged enough to speak to us in person. It’s much easier to build relationships in person than online, so we were trying to push the interaction there as quickly as possible.

Here are some more posts in the same vein:

Promoted Tweet

Promoted Tweet

In case you were curious, it turns out that DJ left his credit card at a bar. Sadly, the bartender had given it to someone else and even the power of Twitter was unable to locate it. However, that tweet served as a great conversation starter with everyone who had seen it that morning.

The final post was more of a call-to-action post, where we asked people to fill out a lead form and download our social media attribution white paper. After spending the entire conference building awareness and talking to people, the download (and lead) volume was huge.

Overall, the conference was a big success for us. Plenty of new customers and valuable new relationships came out of it, and the promotion on Twitter definitely contributed to that. Anecdotally, this conference usage of Promoted Tweets has really caught on. Marketers at many big brands are now doing this at their respective industry conferences, which has made the pricing more competitive since we did it in February.

In Conclusion

Using Promoted Tweets is different than any type of advertising you’ve done before. Once you start, give yourself time to learn what works and what doesn’t. Make sure you have time to spend on the program, as it’s definitely not set-it-and-forget-it. And remember that while these are paid placements, they’re still organically displayed. You’re expected to contribute to the conversation in a positive way.

Once you’re up and running, the power of the Promoted Tweet is undeniable: there is simply no other tool that lets you reach a mass audience in such a timely, targeted fashion.

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