Have you been successfully marketing your business by tweeting your heart out?
With approximately 330 million monthly active users eager to discover and engage, Twitter is a great place to grow brand awareness, build trust, and drive traffic.
Although there’s nothing better than organic marketing growth, calling Twitter marketing “free” would be a mistake. As you probably know, it requires constant monitoring, quick response times, and tons of content—that’s a lot of time (aka money).
With hundreds of millions of tweets sent every day, it’s challenging to get your organic Twitter content in front of your audience. If you’ve found an engaged following and created meaningful industry relationships through your organic presence, you might be considering Twitter Ads.
In this article, we’ll cover the pros and cons of running Twitter ads, provide a step-by-step guide to setting up your first ad campaign, and finally share our 12 Twitter ad strategy tips.
Should I Advertise on Twitter?
Twitter has phenomenal potential as an advertising platform, but only if it’s right for your business and audience.
Twitter by Numbers
- 152 million monetizable daily active users.
Twitter now measures its audience by monetizable daily active users (aka users who see ads). This number might seem low, but remember that other social media platforms don’t differentiate active users by their ad viewership.
- Twitter ad engagement is up by 23%.
At the end of 2019, Twitter reported that users are increasingly engaging with ads. This announcement came at the same time that average cost per engagement dropped by 12 percent. Twitter attributes these numbers to improved click-through rates and audience growth. Great news for Twitter advertisers!
- Ads with video are 50% cheaper in cost-per-engagement.
If you’re aware of digital marketing trends, this will come as no surprise. Strong video content is always a cost effective choice.
- Twitter users spend 26% more time with ads than other social media users.
Thanks to their curiosity and discovery focus, Twitter users are more likely to linger over ads.
- Approximately 6,000 tweets are sent per second.
We’ll do the math for you—that equals about 350,000 tweets per minute, or 500 million tweets per day.Whew. Needless to say, this statistic represents a major challenge for marketers and advertisers; more on that later.
At a glance, these numbers (via Hootsuite, 2019) might have you feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Let’s break it down further by exploring a few of the top reasons to invest in Twitter ads, and the biggest reasons to avoid Twitter ads.
Twitter Ads Advantages:
Although Twitter isn’t the most popular social media platform among advertisers, there’s plenty of compelling reasons to invest in Twitter ads.
- Only pay for billable actions.
Twitter only charges when users take the desired action on your ad, meaning that you only pay when you’ve achieved your marketing objective. For example, if you set up a website clicks campaign, you only pay when someone clicks through to your site. Any extra organic impressions and engagements won’t cost you a thing.
Yes, we’re serious. This is probably the strongest selling point for Twitter ads; by taking on some of the advertising risk, Twitter offers an extremely cost-effective advertising platform for businesses of all sizes.
- Hyper-focused your keyword targeting.
Keyword targeting is exclusive to Twitter ads, and lets businesses keep costs low while driving increasingly better results.How does this magic happen? By setting keyword targeting, you target your ad to people who have ever used (or interacted with) a specific keyword or hashtag. For example, a Twitter ad campaign targeting the keyword #dropshipping will target users who have ever sent or interacted with a tweet including the hashtag #dropshipping.
Despite Facebook and Instagram's tens of thousands of pre-defined “interests”, they just can’t offer advertisers the same precision as Twitter. This makes Twitter targeting much more flexible and focused than its competitors.
If you have the audience and keyword research to support it, this kind of hyper-focused keyword targeting can further lower advertising cost while generating strong results.
- Hand-selected audiences.
Twitter’s tailored audiences tool allows businesses to target specific accounts, similarly to Facebook/Instagram’s “custom audiences,” with one key difference.
Facebook requires businesses to have a customer’s email or phone number before they can be added to a custom audience. On Twitter, all you need is a username. This freedom opens up exciting strategies, like targeting your competition’s followers or re-marketing to non-followers who have previously engaged with your content.
- Low cost per click (CPC).
You can quite literally buy clicks on Twitter for pennies, making Twitter the place to find some of the lowest CPCs across social media advertising platforms.
However, while the lack of advertising competition helps keep costs low, it also signals that many businesses have chosen not to advertise on the platform. Let’s examine why.
Twitter Ads Disadvantages:
Despite all of these positive points, Twitter still struggles to sell its advertising products. Overwhelmingly, businesses and industry leaders list Twitter’s “noisiness” as the major deterrent.
Marketing and marketing specialists complain that Twitter’s signature real-time updates are also its biggest weakness. Real-time updates means high post volumes, which some claim have simply become “too much”, making it incredibly difficult for businesses to get their Twitter ads seen—let alone clicked through.
So, should you advertise on Twitter?
The answer will be highly personal to you and your business. First and foremost, you should ask yourself if you have the time and resources to compete in the noisy Twitter-sphere.
In order to create effective ads, you should—at minimum—have solid audience data, comprehensive keyword research, and an engaged Twitter following.
Continue reading for an overview of Twitter ad formats, our step-by-step guide to setting up your first Twitter ads campaign and, 12 tips for success.
Twitter Ad Formats
Generally, Twitter ads are variations of organic Tweets, trends, and account suggestions.
- Promoted Tweet
Promoted tweets look nearly the same as regular tweets, with the addition of a “Promoted” label. They can be retweeted, replied to, and liked the same as organic tweets. This includes plain text promoted tweets, image promoted tweets, and GIF promoted tweets. Just like organic tweets, these are limited to 280 characters.
- Promoted Accounts
Promoted accounts suggest your account to users who are likely to be interested in your content. Promoted accounts are displayed in multiple locations across the platform, including timelines, the “who to follow” section, and search results. Once again, these are labeled as “Promoted” to distinguish it from other recommended accounts.
- Promoted Trends
Promoted trends are 24-hour takeovers of the Twitter trends list. Promoted trends display somewhere in the top two slots of the “trends for you” section and in the “explore” tab. They function almost exactly the same as regular trends and are labeled as “promoted.”
Users who click on a promoted trend see Twitter search results for that particular topic, with a related pinned “promoted” tweet from the advertiser at the top of the search results. Other than the pinned “promoted” tweet, all search results are unfiltered, public, and genuine. Promoted trends are visible to all Twitter users as long as they’re being promoted.
- Promoted-only Tweets
These tweets are only shown to users specifically targeted in an ad campaign. Users who were not targeted will not see these ads in their timelines or search results. When seen by a targeted user, promoted-only tweets function just like regular tweets and can be interacted with in the same ways (replies, shares, retweets, likes).
Twitter Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide
1. Enable Twitter Analytics
Twitter offers free analytics tracking, but it’s turned off by default. In order to gather the valuable (organic and paid) data you’ll want, enable Twitter analytics as soon as possible.
On desktop, clicking the “More” tab will open the menu on the right. Click “Analytics”, and you’ll be taken to analytics.twitter.com/about, where you can simply click “Turn Analytics On” to start collecting data
2. Set Up a Campaign
On the Twitter Ads page, you’ll find eight different objective-based campaign types. Don’t let these options overwhelm you; they’re actually designed to make ad campaign creation more user-friendly.
Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with this particular ad campaign, and then select the appropriate campaign objective.
Twitter will automatically set up your ads and payment settings to measure (and bill) ad performance. For example, a followers campaigns will measure (and charge) per follower gained.
Here’s a brief explanation of each Twitter campaign objective:
- Tweet Engagements Campaign
This campaign type helps you put your tweets in front of your targeted audience in order to start conversations, connect with followers, and share your message. You can either promote organic tweets or create tweets especially for promotion.
- Awareness Campaign
Awareness campaigns increase brand awareness by showing your tweet to as many people as possible. In these campaigns, you set a bid amount per 1000 impressions (CPM), and Twitter will automatically optimize your campaign for unique reach.
- Promoted Video Views:
Promote your videos to a targeted, engaged audience. These ads auto-play your video on scroll, therefore encouraging people to tap or click. This campaign helps you increase GIF or video views.
- Website Clicks or Conversions Campaign
Encourage website visits and conversions with this campaign type. You can feature website content with Twitter’s Website Cards, which preview images, content, and CTAs directly in a user’s timeline.
- In-stream video views:
Run in-stream video ads before videos from popular creators to reach an engaged audience.
- Followers Campaign
Utilize this campaign type to gain an engaged audience and increase your reach. Followers campaigns promote your account by displaying your account in the home feed, the “who to follow” section, and search results. Just like all Twitter ads, these suggestions will be labeled as “Promoted” to separate it from other recommended accounts.
- App Installs or Re-engagement Campaign
Target your mobile audience to encourage app downloads. These ads are formatted for the mobile marketplace and allow users to install or open an app directly from their timeliness. App Cards show image, app ratings, and install buttons directly in user timelines to drive downloads and app opens. Once again, you only pay for the desired action, which is clicks that lead either to an app store or directly to your app.
- Bonus: Quick Promote
Quick Promote actually isn’t an objective-based ad campaign, but it’s important to understand how it fits into the larger landscape of Twitter ads.
Quick promote lets you easily promote an individual tweet without going through the Twitter ads campaign workflow. Promoted tweets only aim to increase impressions on a single tweet. Quick promote tweets can only be targeted by location; Twitter will automatically serve your tweet to users with interests similar to your followers.
- Bonus: Twitter Promote Mode
Twitter promote mode is the platform’s first subscription ad product that automatically promotes an account’s tweets and profile (24/7). It was designed for dedicated advertisers looking to constantly amplify their Twitter messaging.
A flat annual subscription fee ($99/month) buys 10 promoted tweets a day and a promoted account campaign. Twitter promote mode does all of the work. Advertisers don’t have to set up objective-based campaigns in order to run ads included in the subscription.
- Tweet Engagements Campaign
Once you’ve selected the appropriate advertising objective, Twitter will automatically generate the most appropriate ad formats for you to utilize.
Now that we’ve selected our campaign objective, we can give it a name, set our daily and (optional) total budgets, and choose how long we’d like the ads to run (campaign duration).
3. Create Ad Groups
The next order of business is to set up ad groups. Every campaign must have at least one ad group, but you can create as many as is appropriate for your business.
Ad groups are groups of individual ads within a larger campaign. They have their own budgets, audience targeting, and schedules. Ad groups are essential to create different ads supporting the same overall goal.
Maybe you want to drive online sign-ups for your upcoming event. One ad group might run for two weeks, driving visitors to the early-bird signup page, where they can take advantage of a special offer. After the early bird deadline passes, as second ad group could promote the regular ticket purchase page.
How you use ad groups will depend entirely on your business, advertising objectives, and products. Carefully think through the best way to organize your ads, because it can largely affect your ad spend and results.
4. Set Ad Group Budgets & Bids
On each ad group page, you’ll notice a dropdown menu with options for “Bid type.” The choices you make here will affect how each ad will participate in the Twitter Ads Auction.
The Twitter Ads Auction is where advertisers bid against each other to show their ads to a specific user / audience. Twitter auctions weigh bids and ad scores (ad quality) to determine which ads to show to whom, and at what price point.
When you’re setting your bid types, be sure you understand all of your options. Currently, there are three choices:
- Automatic bid: Ads run automatically based on Twitter’s algorithm, maximizing results at the lowest price (within a budget). Twitter recommends this bid type for new advertisers, since the algorithm can automatically ensure you’re competitive in the auction.
- Target bid: This is only available in select campaign types and allows you to select the bid amount you’d like to pay per billable action (conversion). Twitter will then auto-optimize your campaign to achieve an average daily cost that meets or exceeds your target. Only use this bid type if you understand the exact monetary value of the conversion you’re targeting.
- Maximum bid: Choose exactly how much you’re willing to pay for a billable action, and Twitter will keep bids below this mark. This bid type might cost more money, but ensures your ads receive maximum visibility. We recommend avoiding this type at the beginning, because it requires advanced advertising data and monetizable conversions to ensure a positive ROI.
5. Target Audiences
Audience targeting determines the size of your campaign’s audience. Generally, the larger your campaign audience, the lower the competition and the easier your ad will serve.
That means your audience targeting can not only drive better results, but also lower your CPC or cost per conversion.
What that doesn’t mean, however, is to aim for the biggest audience possible. Serving Twitter ads to people entirely outside of your audience might cost nothing, but it also won’t net you any results.
As you’ll see in your Twitter campaign creator, you can create tailored and flexible audiences, which allow you to select specific individuals (and those with similar interests).
Further down, you can set the more traditional demographic targeting, including gender, age, location, language, and devices.
Audience features targeting is where you can really dig deep and send your ads to interested users. Here, you can move beyond general interest areas to target users interested in specific keywords (hashtags), events, interests, movies, TV shows. You can even target by hashtag use.
We recommend getting as specific as possible here while relying on audience research data.
From there, feel free to enable the optional “retargeting” or “expand” options. The new “expand your audience” feature will capture users with interests similar to those you’ve prescribed in your audience targeting.
As you refine your targeting, you’ll notice the graph on the right-hand side of your screen will indicate your audience size and let you know once you’re within the recommended size range.
6. Select Creatives
In advertising, “creatives” refer to the actual ads themselves; for Twitter ads, they’re the tweets you’re promoting.
You can select existing organic tweets or create new tweets. When creating a new tweet, you can choose the “promoted-only” button if you don’t want it to appear organically in your followers’ timelines.
Before selected existing tweets to promote, we recommend checking out your twitter analytics and selecting from your best-performing content.
Finally, assign tweets to their appropriate ad group.
7. Determine Placements
Don’t forget to look over your placement options and remove any placements you don’t want. The four placement options for Twitter ads are:
- Users’s timelines: Promotes tweets into the home timelines of your targeted audience.
- Profiles: Promotes tweets to users when they visit profiles.
- Search results: Promote tweets in relevant Twitter search results.
- Twitter audience platform: These are ad placements outside of Twitter itself. Opting into this placement will run your ad in apps on the Twitter audience platform.
Placements can help you further target your audience by capturing users in different places in their discovery journey. For example, users searching for your keywords (search results) are more actively engaged than users who simply stumble across an ad in their timeline.
8. Review and Launch Your Campaign
Finally, look over your campaign details and make sure everything’s right. When you’re ready, select “launch campaign.”
Now that you’ve officially mastered the basics, check out our 12 best Twitter ad tactics for 2020.
12 Best Twitter Ad Tactics
- Learn from Organic Tweets
We are big believers of learning through organic trial and error before advertising on social media. Make sure that you’re implementing the same successful marketing strategies used for your organic content.Even more importantly, make sure that your organic insights help steer advertising decisions. Analyze your top-performing tweets, best posting times, and audience characteristics to create the best possible advertising campaign.
- Say Hi!
You can’t assume that users viewing your Twitter ads will be familiar with your business. After all, ads are often designed to get your content in front of new users.
Designate some of your visual or copy space to highlight your unique selling proposition. This introduces users to your business and helps persuade them to click, follow, watch, or engage with your ad.
- Teach Something
Education and “how-to” content are incredibly popular now, as evidenced by brands like Buzzfeed Tasty. You can use a how-to GIF or short video preview to capture users’ attention and encourage them to continue viewing or reading on your website.
- Emphasize Urgency
Sure, this is a good rule of thumb on any advertising platform, but Twitter users are particularly tuned in to urgency. After all, Twitter is all about “what’s happening” right now.
Give users a reason to take action right away. This could take the form of a limited-time offer, warning that there’s a limited supply, or even a timely call-to-action (“sign up now”).
- Tell Stories and Strike a Chord
One thing hasn’t changed in the world of advertising—great ads tell stories. Storytelling helps distinguish your brand, convey emotion, and make your message memorable.
Find creative ways to tell a story within Twitter’s constraints. At the very least, start a story to peak user interest and encourage them to continue their journey on your other social accounts or website.
- Ride the Tide of Trends
Pay attention to big events, because Twitter users sure do. Major events actually drive thousands of users to the platform to share their experiences, debate, and voice their opinions.In addition to the expected events, like the Superbowl or Thanksgiving, there are hundreds of hashtag holidays you can take advantage of.
Events have been rescheduled, postponed indefinitely, and cancelled around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve collected all of the new dates and organized them into a convenient updated Twitter marketing calendar for 2020.
- Don’t Let #Hashtags #Distract #from #Your #Message
Hashtags are great tools to drive engagement, but if your advertising objective is something like web traffic or gaining followers, they might do more damage than good. Think carefully before adding any (non-branded) hashtags.When using hashtags, only use those that are highly relevant to your brand and advertising message. Finally, never use more than two or three hashtags in a tweet (research shows more than 3 can actually hurt engagement).
- Offer Discounts by the %
Twitter’s own research shows that users prefer to click on Twitter ads that mention a percentage discount, rather than specific dollar savings. When offering discounts, promote them by the percentage for the best results.
- Sell Your “Free” Products
No, we don’t mean give away your products for nothing. However, advertising free helpful content, downloadable resources, or tools can effectively drive web traffic, leads, and email sign-ups. Make sure to include the magic word (“free”) in your ad for maximum effectiveness.
- Don’t Forget the Call-to-Action
Twitter’s limited space is no excuse to leave out a clear CTA. This tip might sound self-explanatory, but advertisers forget this basic principle all the time.In your Twitter ad, briefly tell users exactly what you want them to do. It doesn’t have to take more than a few words; try simple CTAs like “follow us” or “register online now.”
- Ask Questions
Asking questions is a great way to earn engagement, start conversations, and build brand loyalty. Regardless of your advertising objective, earning engagement is key to advertising success, because it increases your organic reach and ad quality.
- Images are Worth a Thousand Words, Videos are Worth a Million
Images and videos can help increase advertising effectiveness while lowering costs. However, low-quality or poorly formatted images and videos can backfire. Always use high-quality pictures or videos appropriately cropped for Twitter previews.
Twitter is great place to grow brand awareness, build trust with your audience, and drive traffic to your website or other social content.
Although you have to be willing to compete for attention on Twitter, there’s many benefits to advertising on the platform. If implemented strategically, Twitter ads can help your business stand out in the crowd and deliver messages for relatively low costs.
If you follow these Twitter ads guidelines paired with an effective Twitter marketing strategy, your business will be the talk of the Twitter-sphere.