They are described by Twitter as "ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers."
Promoted Tweets have been around for a couple of years, but Twitter limited the number of companies allowed to use them. They recently changed this policy and now anyone can pay to their Tweets promoted.
Over the last month Small Business Labs has been experimenting with promoted tweets. Here are our reactions:
1. Promoted Tweets is extremely easy to use. We were up and running in minutes.
2. Targeting is excellent. You can target your promoted Tweets based on broad interest groups, by keyword, by location and/or by selecting the followers of users.
We tried a number of different approaches but quickly found selecting the followers of influential users most effective for us. For example, if we were promoting a Tweet about coworking we targeted it a the followers of the thought leaders in the coworking space.
3. Twitter uses a Google-like auction system for Promoted Tweets. And like with Google, you only pay for performance, with performance being measure on a cost-per-engagement (CPE) basis. This means you only pay when someone clicks, retweets, replies to, or favorites your Promoted Tweet. You can also choose to pay for followers added as an option.
4. You can set per day limits, so you aren't exposed to big spend overages.
For our test we allocated $25 per day for a month and promoted one to three tweets per day. We spent about $350 during the test and we generated a bit over 600 engagements. We didn't pay for followers.
So we now get to the interesting question - is a Twitter engagement worth the 58 cents we paid per engagement?
Each business will need to make their own call on this. But for business the answer is subjective and not fully quantifiable. I can easily measure the ROI of clicks that come from my Tweets. But at least for our business, I don't see how to quantify the impact of the other engagement methods - retweets, favoriting and replies.
Our subjective view is some of our promoted Tweets were well worth the cost, others not so.
Our bottom line is we think we're getting enough value to continue promoting Tweets, but we're going to do so on a very selective basis.
Our advice for small businesses is:
1. If you are an active Twitter user, Promoted Tweets are well worth experimenting with. A test campaign is simple, cheap and takes little time.
Make sure you measure what you can and minimize your costs. Like with Google Adwords, minimizing cost per engagement is going to be key to a positive ROI. .
2. If you aren't an active Twitter user, Promoted Tweets are unlikely to be effective and not worth the time and effort associated with a test campaign.
As always, we recommend small businesses experiement with a variety of social media platforms. So if you aren't a Twitter user, consider playing around with it to see if it could be of value to your business.