Twitter Ads. Useful?

more lift.png
Can paid Twitter Ads lift your next public relations campaign?

A strong Twitter presence can be a connection—as Adam Gray says in Brilliant Social Media—“to the pulse of what’s happening in the world.”

For free! But there’s also a place to pay.

Twitter’s suite of paid Ads includes Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends. The Ads look and act like regular Twitter content except that they’re created by advertisers and are marked “promoted.” (Twitter glossary)

Are Ads worth is? Consider how Ads are posted and priced: deployed through campaigns with set goals and budgets, once the goals are met or the budget is exhausted the Ad no longer appears.

With this approach Twitter Ads can fit all types of budgets and goals–from a few dollars per day for micro-targeted Promoted Tweets to hundreds of thousands of dollars per day for Promoted Trends that are potentially visible to all 320 million monthly active Twitter users.

How do you buy an Ad?

Twitter awards users the right to advertise and sets the price users pay through bidding.

Why bidding? In its Bidding and auctions FAQs, Twitter states, “Auction-based pricing helps ensure advertisers achieve optimal results while creating the best possible experience for users.”

Interesting. The Mississippi Auction Association notes that people love discounts. Auctions entertain by giving the sense that there’s a win to be had.  And when people feel good they’ll spend more, in good and bad economies.

So it’s a win-win: with the auction model, Twitter enacts its “best possible experience” value while encouraging users to spend. Advertisers are entertained and may end up paying less than they’d budgeted. Or they may end up paying more—but they’ll feel good about it.

What if an advertiser’s bid is unsuccessful? No Ads? Maybe.

Twitter’s commitment to user experience extends to Twitterers who do not want their Twitter timelines clogged with advertising. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get an Ad. But in a sensible business move, there are alternatives.

If users hate auctions or lose an auction, they can choose automatic bidding or engage the services of a Twitter account representative. Twitter will find a best-possible solution and suggest modifications (such as timing) to meet budgets and objectives. If you want a Twitter Ad, as long as you’re flexible you’ll likely get one.

Twitter Ads can have wildly successful outcomes. Check out the examples in Everything You Need to Know About Twitter Promoted Products.

But—revelation—not all effective Twitter campaigns use Twitter Ads.

Some are built with creativity, audience insight and great timing. Check out Some of the Best Twitter Campaigns Ever.

Should you use Twitter Ads? Like everything in public relations, it depends on your situation as well as your available time, talent and resources.

Weigh your choices and happy Twittering!

Twitter logo:; Illustration: Robyn Fox


6 thoughts on “Twitter Ads. Useful?”

  1. Robyn,

    I really enjoyed your post, as well as the articles you linked to. They reinforce the fact that paid social media strategies are not a one-size fits all approach. More importantly, they aren’t a requisite for a successful and impactful campaign. I wasn’t aware of the auctioning aspect…**the more you knoooooow**

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Emilee. Yes, the more we know the better decisions (hopefully) we’ll make. Glad I illuminated the auction process for you. Cultivating influence toward our objectives through owned, earned, *then paid*, then back to earned media: the Earned Media Hub Strategy optimizes outcomes by promoting social sharing. And that includes the sharing of paid media. Soooo muuuch tooo keeep in miiiiind. Go Team PR!


  2. Robyn,

    I really liked your analysis of Twitter’s auction service which allows for bids on costs. In my experience in using bidding-based advertisement (Facebook – which is similar, but with some small differences) the idea is definitely there, that value is created by being able to “name your price”. Facebook seems to use a more closed system. Either way, it definitely seems to produce positive results – as you pointed out, the idea of getting advertising under budget is certainly a win, and the auctions provide a great way to build a sense of getting a deal, or having a level of success before the advertising campaign even begins.


    1. Thanks for the feedback Christopher. So far I haven’t done any ad buying on social media. I have, on the other hand, done some ad placements for non-profits and I’ve learned to ask if there’s a non-profit price. There generally is. Your comment inspired me to check Twitter’s policy. The answer: no. But there is an official Twitter non-profit guide to using Ads at:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s