Twitter is beta testing a new, pay-per-click advertising platform. This has significantly opened up the world of Twitter advertising for small or medium businesses. There are now two main options for small business promotion on Twitter: the traditional pay-per-follower promoted accounts and the newer pay-per-click promoted Tweets.
Promoted Accounts automatically find new followers for your business page. They do this by identifying Twitter users in your targeted geographical area with interests similar to your existing followers, and suggesting that they follow your promoted account. This is a different approach than Facebook, Google+, or other social media marketing because it targets a broad spectrum of potential customers.
Often, even potential customers with no stated interest in your exact product will be targeted. For example, if you are selling travel packages, but a large chunk of your existing followers also listed soccer, barhopping and classical music as their interests, then Twitter would suggest your travel company to people who don’t list an interest in travel, but do list an interest in soccer, barhopping and classical music.
An Unconventional Approach
This runs counter to the prevailing business model of internet marketing, which uses increasingly sophisticated algorithms to select a narrow range of potential customers as targets of your ads. This narrower approach is common in pay-per-banner or pay-per-click advertising, because if an ad is too broadly targeted it will cost a business a fortune while attracting a relatively small number of actually interested customers.
However, the unique structure of Twitter makes a broader approach possible. For your promoted account, instead of views or clicks, you pay for every person who follows your account after seeing it suggested. How much you pay depends on how many other businesses are also vying for that person’s attention.
When you set up a promotional Twitter account, you first indicate the maximum bid per follower you are willing to pay. The business has the highest bid on a given person will have the highest listed suggestions for that person. After, and only after, a given person decides to follow your business, do you pay out. Depending on your preferences, you can set bids anywhere from 50 cents (the minimum) to twenty or more dollars per follower. As a result, despite your exposure to a wide range of potential customers, you only pay for the customers interested enough to hear from your business on a regular basis.
Before using a Promoted Account, you should work with content development and marketing to establish an existing base of followers. The Twitter algorithms work best if your Twitter followers already represent your desired customers.
Once you have built up a large number of followers, you can also begin to invest in the newer, pay-per-click option of Promoted Tweets. Promoted Tweets are specific Tweets, or Twitter messages, that you pay to have displayed more prominently in the feeds of your followers as well as those with similar interests to your followers. This is a good way to keep your followers engaged and to advertise a little bit outside of your follower base.
As a direct sales tactic, it is not nearly as sophisticate or cost-effective as Google or Facebook Exchange ads that directly target likely customers; however, as a way to distribute linkbait, or to remind your fans of special events or promotions, they can be useful. Per-click Twitter advertising, like per-follower, is better thought of as a way to grow brand awareness and communicate with your customer base than a way to directly sell particular products.
Steve is a Social Media Manager at TechWyse, an internet marketing firm based in Toronto, Canada. TechWyse specializes in SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing. You can read more of Steve’s writing at TechWyse.com/blog.