The rise of social media has resulted in a new way of doing business – we see this constantly in various platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The “promoted” features Twitter offers are a prime example of how businesses have evolved to take advantage of the added benefits presented by the social web.
As with other new technologies, Twitter is a business, too, and looks for ways to generate revenue while keeping their users happy with the services offered. One of the ways Twitter makes money is through their “promoted” features: promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends. As we’ll further explore, they each have their own pros and cons.
Promoted tweets are tweets paid for by companies to share content, build awareness or offer deals while also helping to gain new followers. Twitter will search through an account’s tweets and choose the best ones – the ones with the most engagement (number of retweets, replies, favorites). These promoted tweets then appear at the top of a follower’s (or non-follower with similar interests) feed, clearly labeled as “promoted”, or when specific keywords are searched for. Although this seems like something most businesses should invest in, there’s one important factor to consider – the cost.
As these answers from Quora explain, promoted tweets are offered on a cost-per-engagement basis, which means the company pays their bid price (anywhere from $0.20 to $5.00) only when the tweet is clicked on, retweeted, replied to or favorited. By inputting how much you’re willing to pay (maximum per day and how much you want to be charged per engagement), you can create your very own promoted tweet.
So what does this mean? It means you only pay for what you get – when there is activity with your tweet. Depending on what you tweet, it means you can increase traffic to your website, resulting in a higher ROI. It means you can increase your followers if you’ve targeted non-followers. It’s also a whole lot cheaper than paying for Google keywords (which can go up to $200 per word), though some Twitter key terms will be more expensive than others. Overall, I think if a company has the budget to invest in promoted tweets, it’s a neat feature and of great value to a company or product’s overall public relations and marketing strategy.
Ever checked out the “Who to Follow” recommendations on Twitter and wondered how they can possibly know that you’d be interested in following these accounts? Twitter uses an algorithm to find users you’re not following but may want to, based on who you’re following and who they’re following. A feature of the “Who to Follow” recommendations is the “promoted account”, the first account which appears at the top of the list. The promoted accounts also appear in searches and in Twitter’s “Similar to you” feature. Like promoted tweets, promoted accounts can also be geo-targeted, either by country or region.
Companies pay on a cost-per-follow basis – they pay their bid price, which can range from $2.50 to $4.00 (according to this article by Clickz) every time they receive a new follower. For companies who look to amass a large Twitter following, this can be of value; or, if launching a new product, a company may wish to build awareness by finding new, interested followers, who in turn can tweet about the company or new product.
For new or smaller companies, or those launching a new product, the promote accounts feature can be of real value if they’re looking to build a loyal following. However, by having a new follower, it doesn’t automatically mean that that follower will tweet or otherwise engage in and about the brand, nor does it imply that the user will buy its products. Therefore, I think there can be a value to including promoted accounts in a PR or marketing strategy, depending on what the end goal is.
Promoted trends are #hashtags or other trend terms which a company has paid for to appear at the top of users’ Trending Topics list; as with the promoted tweets and accounts, they are also clearly labeled.
The costs for promoted trends are perhaps the most expensive of Twitter’s promoted features. They are offered through a one-time, flat free charge and can range over a hundred thousand dollars. This article by Venture Beat puts the average cost at a whopping $120,000 per day. Is it worth it? If a trend goes viral, absolutely. It means users are interested in the conversation and want to be engaged and connect with others who are also interested in the same topic. Furthermore, it allows users to see a related tweet at the top from the user with the promoted trend, introducing them to a new company they may not have otherwise come in contact with.
Promoted tweets, accounts and trends can have tremendous value on an organization’s public relations program, as seen by these impressive case studies. Unfortunately, not all companies can begin to afford these often rewarding features, especially the smaller, newer or entrepreneurial businesses who are trying to make a name for themselves without necessarily having the marketing budget to do so.