Twitter has introduced Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts as an affordable way to increase reach on its social media network. This service level was rolled out by invitation in March, 2013 (Webolutions® was invited), and made available to all users in late April.
Twitter’s initial foray into social media advertising fell into the, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” category. $15,000 to get started. Surely, that price structure saved a lot of time for sales reps calling upon small- and medium- sized businesses. That’s a pretty aggressive proposition to a market that remains largely unclear on how to use a Hashtag.
Meanwhile, Facebook and LinkedIn provided several options to advertise on their networks with price points agreeable to just about anyone. When Facebook altered its algorithm to emphasize user posts in news feeds, it effectively penalized content produced and published on business pages. This pushed social media advertising, a.k.a. “paid social,” into the fore of social media marketing, elevating the importance of promoting individual posts and ongoing Sponsored Stories campaigns.
Twitter’s structure and algorithm are different, but the social network advises algorithmically similar filtering. Promoted Tweets, says Twitter, “will appear in a user’s timeline only if the Tweet is likely to be interesting and relevant to that user.” Factors influencing the timelines into which those Tweets land include, “what a user chooses to follow, how they interact with a Tweet, what they retweet, and more.”
Promoted Tweet visibility is also limited by advertiser selection of targeting options. Similar to Facebook, Twitter ads are targetable by geography—from national to metropolitan level—interest categories and even specific usernames. Unlike Sponsored Stories on Facebook, Promoted Tweets cannot, at this writing, be set to promote the latest post. Rather, the advertiser must select specific Tweets to promote.
At a similar price point, Twitter also now offers Promoted Accounts. Twitter Promoted Accounts are displayed in three different places with a “Follow” conversion button. Advertiser-selected targeting is the same and Twitter’s algorithmic targeting is similar.
It’s important to note that additional followers and Re-Tweets are a means, not an end. Many businesses errantly measure success on social media in “reach”–quantity of likes, followers, etc. Engagement is more important.
In fact, without engagement, reach can be a detriment. For example: When EdgeRank, Facebook’s algorithm, finds a page with a lot of likes but a low TAT (Talking About This) score, it assumes the content being published on that page is irrelevant to its audiences and limits its proliferation to news feeds.
For real success measurement in social media, look beyond “reach.” If you’re not getting the right degree of likes, comments, Re-Tweets, etc., keep testing your targeting, content mix and timing. A like or follow is transactional. Engagement spawns relationships. Thereupon are businesses built.
As social media marketing moves to maturity, competition for attention share increases. This moves effective advertising on well-chosen channels further toward the front of strategy and budget considerations.
How to use this Information
Social media advertising is an increasingly necessary but ancillary component of an effective content strategy. Whether you’re promoting Tweets, a Twitter account, a contest or sweepstakes on Facebook or running a Sponsored Stories campaign, how you interact with your audience is the lynchpin in the deal.
As with any other type of advertising, regardless of price point: Advertising buys attention. On its own, it can’t close the deal. Compelling content and a well-constructed conversion funnel are critical to achieving Return On Investment (ROI) in social media marketing.
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