Twitter’s Promoted Tweets: Where Value-Added Communication Is Tested
April 22, 2010 by Natalie Haack

Twitter recently rolled out its new ad platform: promoted tweets.  Initially, promoted tweets will only show up in the search function on the Twitter website.  When Twitter users type their keywords into the Twitter search, a promoted tweet will appear at the top of the list of tweets with those keywords. Only one promoted tweet will appear at the top of each search.  The ad will look just like a regular tweet and can be replied to, retweeted and made a favorite.

Starbucks Promoted Tweet

Per Advertising Age, “initially, advertisers will bid on keywords on a cost-per-thousand basis…” but soon, the pricing will be based on “resonance.”  Resonance will be judged by Twitter as how often the promoted tweet is retweeted, made a favorite or receives a click-through from a link placed in the promoted tweet.  If an ad performs well, it will stay in the system, and if it doesn’t do well, Twitter will pull the ad.

By using resonance to judge the quality of a promoted tweet, value-added promoted tweets will be kept alive and spammy promoted tweets will be weeded out.  This is good for Twitter users who don’t want to be inundated with spammy tweets.  It will also force companies on Twitter to create value-driven tweets.

Social media is about communicating and sharing – but in order to do it well, companies must provide value.  Some companies, such as Starbucks, do a good job of creating conversations on Twitter.  Other brands still haven’t grasped that people don’t respond well to marketing messages that are shouted at them.  People want information they can use.  Companies need to create conversations in social media, and promoted tweets will require marketing teams to tweet information that is interesting enough to get people to click on their link, follow their brand and retweet the promoted tweet.  Otherwise, the company’s promoted tweet will be pulled from Twitter.

Virgin America is taking the engagement concept to heart with their promoted tweets.  Per Mashable, the company doesn’t “…see paid-for tweets as advertisements but as opportunities to enhance the communication that they are having with customers and followers.”  They are burying their promoted tweets in very specific search listings.  By using highly specific keywords, Virgin America is assuring that its promoted tweets will only be seen by Twitter users looking for something very specific.

Virgin America is great example of how brands should communicate with their customers on Twitter and on social media platforms in general.  They are creating tweets with value that will include Twitter promotions and discussions on Twitter with in-flight passengers.  Virgin America is targeting the market of individuals who want and will use the information.  Therefore, they are more likely to have their promoted Tweets shared and kept alive in the Twitter search.

If promoted tweets do well in Twitter search, they will be rolled out into Twitter streams (on both the Twitter website and third-party applications like TweetDeck and Seesmic) and will be seen by everyone, even if the individual doesn’t follow that brand on Twitter.  So, if brands want their ads to show up in Twitter feeds, they need to learn how to create promoted tweets that add value to the conversation.  After all, that’s what communicating in social media is all about.

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