Twitter Self-Serve Ads Expanding Reach

Guest Contributor

Twitter is expanding the reach of its self-service advertising offering for small businesses. Back in February, they announced a partnership with American Express to offer a $100 voucher to 10,000 American Express card holders in the initial launch of self-service advertising. I’m now hearing from several people that they are being invited to sign up for Twitter Ads without needing an American Express card. While my sample size is too small to gauge, everyone I’ve talked to has at least 5,000 followers, so that may be the threshold for an invite.

I got my own invite to Twitter Ads as part of the American Express promotion. While I haven’t used Twitter Ads with my personal account yet, we do a fair amount of advertising on Twitter at HasOffers, so I’m quite familiar with their advertising process. If you’re a small business here are some things you may want to be aware of before using Twitter Ads.

Targeting by Country

Twitter currently allows you to target users by country, so your promoted profile and promoted tweets will only appear in the countries you select. This appears to be the only targeting control at the moment, which matches fairly closely with what is available to bigger Twitter Ads accounts.

While you will definitely gain more followers and get your tweets in front of more people by keeping country targeting broad, there’s a good chance those users won’t actually care about you or your brand. In other words, narrow your target to people who are actually a close match.

Promote Your Twitter Account

Promoting your Twitter account allows you to grow your followers at a minimum of $0.50 per follow. Your ad will appear in the Who to Follow section on a users Twitter account. If they follow you, you get charged. The targeting seems to be a combination of the geographic regions you select and some variation of the “similar to you” feature they use for unpaid recommendations. Don’t expect the people who click the paid recommendation to be engaged at the same level as those people who follow you organically, though occasionally there may be some great follows that result.

Also keep in mind that paid follows should be evaluated with the same process you use for organic follows, so that you are following back people who are interesting. You might be surprised at who follows you when you promote your account.

Promote Your Tweets

Promoted tweetsPromoted tweets show up in the tweet stream of users both on the Twitter website and in clients. You can see an example of a promoted tweet from Monoprice that recently appeared in my HootSuite client.

You can choose to either promote one of your five most recent tweets or create a new tweet directly from the Twitter Ads interface and promote that tweet. Here again, the base price is $0.50 per click. Keep in mind that any tweet you promote is also seen by your current Twitter followers. Like most other forms of advertising, a daily budget is configured to keep you from ending up with a bigger bill than expected.

While you can promote any tweet, we’ve found a more specific call to action results in the best engagement. Also, don’t be surprised if Twitter gets the targeting wrong and a few users complain about seeing your promoted tweet in their timeline.

The Future of Twitter Advertising

Twitter initially launched advertising with substantial spending requirements and direct insertion orders with a dedicated account rep. That still exists, but doesn’t scale when ad spends are only a few dollars per day. While Twitter initially expanded into small business with the American Express promotion, it’s clear they are opening things up to a wider pool of users. The people who are being invited by Twitter to join Twitter Ads are now able to pay with any card.

Is this a sign Twitter will soon be opening up advertising to all Twitter users? That’s harder to know, but the competition for Twitter ad inventory is certainly increasing.

Guest Contributor

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  • thogenhaven

    Thanks for the thorough post, Jake.

    You write: “While my sample size is too small to gauge, everyone I’ve talked to has
    at least 5,000 followers, so that may be the threshold for an invite.”

    I had an account invited just before hitting the 3,000 threshold a few weeks ago. I wrote a post about it + the effect + follower quality here:

    • Were you part of the AmEx group of invites or a separate invite pool?

      • thogenhaven

        Separate invite – didn’t get 100 dollars free

      • I have less than 1500 followers and I received an invite. And I don’t have an American Express card either!

        Maybe it’s more tied to influence than followers? (number of retweets perhaps?)

        • Seems like they should give to people with less influence. They’re the ones that need it. ha!

          • LOL! Believe it or not I was excited about the fact until I found out the fact that advertising on Twitter doesn’t guarantee you a verified profile account (the latter which I would gladly pay for).