The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Twitter Advertising


twitter bird image

Image courtesy of Andreas Eldh on Flickr

Breaking news. Celebrity goofs. Hashtag memes. Catchup and conversation with friends. We turn to Twitter for all these things and more, revealing a lot about our interests and demographics in the meantime. It should be no surprise that advertisers flock to this medium that’s so deftly captured the world’s attention. If you’re considering advertising on Twitter, find out what works — and what doesn’t — before you make the dive.

Related Story: 11 Successful Entrepreneurs You Should Be Following on Twitter


Until recently, Twitter offered just three advertising options: Brands could promote specific tweets, promote their account, or promote trends. In early August, however, the brand began offering targeted advertising, which is helpful for businesses, and in what’s likely not a coincidence, mimics Facebook’s style of advertising. Now, Twitter offers several ways for advertisers to reach users. Businesses set and track targets, such as driving traffic to their site, increasing app downloads, or adding more followers.

Promoted Tweets:

Promoted Tweet Image

Image via Twitter

A vestige from the former Twitter advertising system, promoted tweets allow advertisers to target an audience — by keywords, TV watching habits, interests, or other data — and get their brand into relevant Twitter-streams with promoted brand-related tweets. These tweets are identified as being advertisements with a small line of text reading “Promoted by [brand name].” These campaigns are highly customizable; advertisers control:

  • Where tweets appear — in search or in users feeds
  • Demographic information — this includes information on gender, location, and language.
  • Targeted keywords — this includes synonyms, and if you want, avoiding putting your tweet in front of negatively inclined users
  • Campaign duration
  • How users access Twitter — both their operating system and their device

For this type of campaign, you can set both a daily and run-of campaign budget, as well as specifying how much you’re willing to pay for user clicks, retweets, or follows.

Promoted Accounts:

Promoted Accounts Image

Image via Twitter

A Promoted Account is an ad that invites targeted Twitter users to follow your brand. This allows you to reach more followers who are likely to to become interested in your content and build a community of advocates. You can target users based on: Interest, geography, gender, keywords, device, and more.

The right followers don’t just follow: They engage with your brand by retweeting, clicking through, and promoting your brand conversation to more like-minded followers.

Once you have a follower you can continue to message them through both organic and Promoted Tweets–exposing them to more content and building your relationship over time.

Promoted Trends:

promoted trends

Image via Twitter

With bigger budgets, companies can purchase a trend on Twitter, which will display for a full 24-hours at the top of the trends lists, and will be labeled promoted. Starbucks, for instance, might want to purchase #PumpkinSpiceLatte to kick off the fall season, and De Beers would possibly purchase #ADiamondIsForever in advance of Valentine’s Day.

Objective-based Campaigns:

objective based

Image via Twitter

Only available in beta for now, Twitter’s objective-based campaigns aim to help businesses narrow down exactly what they hope to achieve with Twitter advertising, and target that goal. There are five options brands can choose from:

  1. Followers: Increase your brand’s followers. If you’re eager to get more people talking about your brand, and aware of your company’s news and updates, this campaign might make the most sense for you.
  2. Website clicks or conversions: This campaign aims to get more people clicking through to your site. If increased traffic is a goal, try this option.
  3. Tweet Engagements: Looking for users to talk about your brand? Choose this campaign.
  4. App Installs or Engagement: Targeting mobile users, this type of campaign makes it easy for people to directly download your app from within a Tweet.
  5. Leads on Twitter: This allows users to easily pass along their email address directly from a tweet.

When breaking news happens

When advertising on Twitter, be aware that while you can deftly target ads to specific users and relevant demographics, it’s challenging to predict the news cycle and the conversation occurring on Twitter. It’s best to be prepared to pull advertisements, if necessary, in response to Twitter chatter.

Recently, for instance, in the wake of Robin Williams’ death, and the protests in Ferguson, Burger King pulled their sponsored trend campaign. The movie Let’s Be Cops, which did not pull their promoted tweets and purchased trending hashtag during the Ferguson protests, wound up receiving a sizable amount of media judgement for that decision.

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