Since its public launch in July 2006, Twitter has grown to over 58 million users wordwide with approximately 600 Tweets being sent each second or 50 million tweets per day.
Despite Twitter’s rapid growth and the $57 million invested by venture capitalists so far, Twitter is still tinkering around with ways to monetize. What Twitter is calling the “Promoted Tweets” program was unveiled this week as the first step toward the company making money.
The first phase of Twitter’s revenue program is to put promoted tweets in search results. There are additional phases to come but this post discusses what you need to know right now about Promoted Tweets so you can learn more and go on and rock at optimizing your promo tweets.
1. What are they? What are Promoted Tweets?
They give a tweet the opportunity to appear at the top of a user’s # search (regardless of when it was Tweeted) so that anyone searching that topic will immediately become aware of it. By opportunity to appear, I mean exactly that. If a tweet does not rank well on Twitter’s measure of usefulness known as a “resonance score”, the tweet will no longer be promoted and whoever promoted it will not have to pay for it.
To use a typical Internet marketing analogy, think of it as a pay-per-click campaign in which Internet marketers buy keywords and pay for them when someone clicks on the ad. (That is a whole different animal because we’re talking about tweets not ads here and the way to generate a strong ROI sits on a very different strategy but for the purpose of simplicity we’ll draw the analogy and I will be sure to post on strategies for measuring ROI on Promoted Search campaigns in Twitter soon). Nevertheless, promoted tweets will become a very valuable social media marketing tool if used properly. Just remember, they’re tweets not ads and you have 140 characters (120 if you’re smart about it) to make yourself as interesting, re-tweetable, linkable and so on as possible so get it right.
2. How will it work? How will Promoted Tweets in a Twitter search work?
Marketers, companies, and anyone with a 120 character message to promote can buy keywords related to the message. When users of twitter search the keywords, that tweet or message will show up somewhere in their search results depending on resonance. If the tweet does not have enough resonance, the tweet will not get a lot of views and thus Twitter will drop the promoted tweet and the company or marketer doesn’t have to pay anything. Thus, you can see how it is similar to a typical pay-per-click campaign in many ways. The major difference is that it is not an ad, it is a tweet (a.k.a. a 140 character message, ideally 120 for retweets) and this tweet only shows up for people who search for it if people who search for it are finding it useful (this will be measured by what Twitter is calling Resonance).
3. What is resonance?
Twitter is calling the determining factors that make a tweet promoted or not resonance. Resonance is basically the measure of user interactions with a tweet. Useful tweets get better resonance, less useful tweets will have a lower resonance and they will probably not end up being promoted much. Resonance is a measurement of approximately 9 factors in some type of secret algorithm google will not give out so spammers don’t mess everything up. The 9 factors are not all given away by Twitter but the ones mentioned are as follows:
- # times the tweet is viewed
- # times the tweet is marked as a favorite
- # times the tweet is re-tweeted
- # times a keyword search “engages” with it
- # times a link “engages” with it
A combination of these factors gives a tweet a resonance score. Tweets with the highest resonance score for a keyword will show up at the top of twitter searches. Tweets with a low resonance score for a keyword will show up lower in the search or they will not show up at all, the company marketer will be deemed a social marketing failure, and the company will get it’s money back.
4. Who is using Promoted Searches now?
The only company I know of using Promoted Tweets program now is Starbucks. They’ve been helping Twitter in testing the program to get more data on how users are interacting with the promoted tweets.
5. What will a Promoted Tweet Look like?
6. Can you give me an example of how it will be used? Here is an example of how a company might use Promoted Tweets in Twitter Search:
Let’s say I do a search for Starbucks to see if there are any coupons or promotions going so that I can justify going in to feed my caffine addiction. I search in Twitter and millions of tweets will come up with “Starbucks” in them. What paid or promoted tweets will do is give Starbucks the opportunity to make their “Free Pastry Day” or other promotion show up first so users searching #starbucks know about it right away. Users seeing the tweets will know that they are paid because they will be highlighted in some way to differentiate from regular user generated content.
7. What are other ways Promotional Tweets might be useful?
A couple off the top of my head that seem the most obvious to me are as follows:
- Promoting an event- something like Starbucks free pastry day.
- Detracting from Bad-Word-of-Mouth. Although there is little proof that negative tweets impact a company’s sales, companies have it in there best interest to keep bad word of mouth to a minimum. This is especially true for brands, celebs, new products, new books, and movies. For instance, you just saw a movie and it was really bad so you tweet about it. The production company could use a promotional tweet to detract from the bad noise.
- Reach a local market. Targeting keywords for your city will be helpful in a twitter search but eventually Twitter plans to integrate a geo-coding element so that local businesses can get something out of promotional tweets.
- Answering a question a lot of people are having. For instance, iPad users were having problems with their batteries and so a lot of iPad user tweets were about this. To answer their questions and reduce any negative noise or prospective buyers of the iPad, Apple would send out an article on how to fix it and promoted the new info with a tweet so that people tweeting with the words “Ipad-battery” could get info on fixing it.
- Crisis Management. This kind of goes along with number 2 and 4 but it deserves it’s own line item. If your Toyota in the news and everything tweeted about you is negative you want to make sure that your response is caring, proactive, positive, and showing up on people’s radar’s when your brand is mentioned.
- Fundraising for a Non-Profit. Lets say your charity is trying to raise money to help families struck by a natural disaster that is being tweeted a lot about from news organizations and such. Anyone with the news of the disaster can see your tweet on their radar, making it much easier for them to help out right then and there.
I’m sure there will be tons of uses for the Promoted Tweet in the future but as of right now, given that we don’t know much, this is a start.
8. What can we expect in the future with the Promotional Tweet model from Twitter?
First Twitter will be launching promotional tweets just in search results. So if you do a search, you do a search for “Starbucks” you might see a tweet for a new promotion. If you do a search for “Best Buy” you might see some type of deal going on as well. Once time goes on Twitter will have better ways to track ROI and more services to offer social-media marketers. Later, Promotional tweets will work into other areas of Twitter such as users timelines, but the company is no rush to do this as of now. Eventually there will be more ways to pay for tweets, track tweet roi, and geo-code tweets so there will be tons of uses and tools popping up all around to help marketers design the best campaign.
One serial entrepreneur who already jumped on this train is Bill Gross, a pioneer in search ads. On Monday, he unveiled a venture that aims to make money by allowing people using Twitter to bid on key words to give their posts top ranking. There will be a variety of tools built into the service so stay tuned. The service will be called TweetUp so keep it on your radar and read about it here. You’ll get coverage on it here so be sure to subscribe.
9. How is Twitter Making Money?
Twitter will take half of the Promotional Tweet revenue after costs and leave the remainder for its partners. That’s all I really know at this time.
10. So, should I do a Promotional Tweet Campaign or incorporate it into my online advertising model?
Before you do anything, you should make sure you are well versed with Twitter and that you are pretty amazing at writing tweetable messages that convert. You should also be fully aware of any negative impact you might have on your followers by using promotional tweets.
The great thing is that you can test your tweets before you pay to promote them. There are so many tools out there to help you design your campaign. You are going to want to consider your SMO goals and your social audience here.
I will teach you more on how to design your campaign in later posts so please subscribe by clicking here.