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2 Key Ways to Advertise on Twitter Without Spending a Fortune

Twitter has been seen for a long time as a neat, cute and simple tool to send your messages, break news and distribute content in real time to a global audience.2 Key Ways to Advertise on Twitter

It can be viewed as the web equivalent of the mobile SMS and as “texting on steroids”.

For many years the perception has been that is is not a serious way to market and advertise. People have questioned its monetization model and wondered whether it would ever make money.

Twitter has refused to be bought and instead it has continued to attract private venture capital estimated to be well over $1 billion, including a $800 million investment by Digital Sky Technologies in August 2010 which was reported as the largest venture round in history.

In 2011, Twitter announced that it had generated $139.5 million in advertising sales and is projecting $260 million in 2012.

Twitter Advertising Grows Up

In the main Twitter has been for most its life as an organic social media marketing platform that has also been used by bloggers and brands to communicate and engage with followers.

Twitter as a marketing and advertising platform is maturing and its advertising evolution commenced with an announcement in April, 2010 of its plans to offer paid advertising for companies through “promoted tweets”. These tweets would appear in selective search results on  Twitter. The pricing model for this only suited major brands and attracted companies such as Sony, Red Bull and Starbucks.

In June, 2011, Twitter announced  it would offer small businesses a self-serve advertising system. This put it on par with Google Adwords and Facebook as an easily accessible platform to advertise with.

Twitter Self Serving Advertising Page

How to Advertise on Twitter

For the average business there are essentially two major types of ways to buy advertising on Twitter. “Promoted Accounts” and “Promoted Tweets

1. Promoted Accounts

Following someone onTwitter is a sign of online affinity so the Promoted accounts is about promoting your Twitter’s brand account and teasing and tempting people to follow you through a paid campaign.

This is done in two ways:

  1. Your Twitter account is featured in search results
  2. It appears in the “Who to Follow” section

This is achieved by the smarts within Twitter’s account recommendation engine that identifies similar accounts and followers that most likely be interested in your account.

Advertising on Twitter promoted accounts example

Campaigns can be geo-targeted at the country level and at the DMA (Designated Market Area) level, which is typically a specific geographic location such as a city.

2. Promoted Tweets

Promoted tweets have been available since 2010. In March, 2012 Twitter announced that this service would also be brought to mobile devices as well.

These promoted tweets can be targeted to

  1. Search results
  2. User timelines

They can also be location delivered with geographic targeting. They are more overt and include special offers and discounts.

Promoted Tweets with Twitter Advertising

Promoted Tweets are priced on a Cost-per-Engagement (CPE) basis, so you only pay when someone retweets, replies to, clicks or favorites your Promoted Tweet. In addition, impressions on Retweets are free and can extend the reach and cost-effectiveness of your campaign many times over.

Interest Targeting

Savvy marketers know that targeted marketing and advertising that is relevant to what the viewer’s interests are, can be the most effective.

Twitter has now announced a further improvement to promoted tweets with “Interest Targeting” and also lowered the minimum bid to one cent for all auctions.

Targeted Twitter Advertising

The two layer interest hierarchy is composed of more than 350 categories. It doesn’t let you target the followers of that @usernames.This is something though that can be done  manually with tools such as Tweepi.

So how effective is this advertising on Twitter ?

A Case Study of Twitter Interest Targeting

Bonobos is an up market online menswear retailer. It is the largest U.S. fashion brand that commenced trading only on the web. The founder Brian Spaly started the business after becoming frustrated trying to find pants that fitted him well.

It prides itself on premium service and receives 25% of its customer service inquiries on social media networks.

The Campaign

It held a sale exclusively on Twitter titled “Twixlusive” which targeted existing customers as well as relevant targeted non-followers.

Firstly it seeded the sale with a “Tweet” a few days before but then decided to postpone it due to a technical glitch but they then received many tweets who still wanted the deal.

Bonobos used Promoted Tweets in timelines to announce an exclusive Twitter deal for $49 chinos, which were normally priced at $88 for 24 hours only. The private deal was only available through Twitter and not advertised anywhere else on Bonobos’ website. Bonobos encouraged customers to spread the word and unlock the deal by retweeting the “Twixlusive.” After a total of 49 Retweets, the sale would then go live.

Bonobos interest targeted Twitter advertising

With 80+ retweets the 24 hour limited time sale was up and running.

The Results

The deal attracted their Twitter followers and also brought in 100 new first time purchasers. Bonobos sales results achieved the following.

  • 1200% ROI in 24 hours
  • It produced a campaign that was 13 times more effective (CPA) to acquire a new customer from Twitter than other marketing channels

What they also found was that it was flexible and allowed for easy advertising schedule adjustments with very little effort.

What About You

Have you used Twitter advertising in the past? Has it been effective?

Would you use this new feature for Twitter “Promoted “Tweets”?

Look forward to hearing your stories.

Want to Learn How to to Grow a Tribe of Fanatical and Targeted Twitter Followers?

My bookBlogging the Smart Way “How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” will show you how.

It is now available on Amazon. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 110,000.

You can read it now.


Image by Big Stock Photo


Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Megan

    Great information. The only thing with Twitter advertising is that the account reps tell you you have to commit to spend $15K over 3 months, or $5K per month, if you want to advertise. How does this cater to the smaller businesses who can’t commit to that?

    • I think they might have seen the folly of their ways and have changed their policy.

      They now are stating at this link – https://business.twitter.com/en/smallbiz/campaign/start-1d.html

      “You control how much you spend each day by setting a daily budget. Twitter will automatically stop showing your ads once the daily budget has been met for the day. You only pay for results – You will only be charged when someone follows your Promoted Account or engages with your Promoted Tweets. You will never be charged for simply being displayed on Twitter. There are no monthly fees and no minimum monthly spend requirements. You can stop your advertising at any time.”

      So lets see what the feedback is now from the websphere!

    • Megan, this was prior to the self-serve platform. If you want to work with a rep on an ongoing basis, I believe they are still targeting a similar minimum.

      Facebook and Google both have similar models as well, with self-serve available for everyone and full service / account management for larger advertisers.

  • Was the damage to the image of the advertiser because of irritation also calculated into the ROI?

  • I’ve experimented with Twitter promoted tweets and accounts. Both are easy to set up and Megan you can limit spend to as little as $10 per day. They’re effective too although promoted tweets really needs the interests targeting which is not yet available in UK. Not for me yet anyway.

  • We will just have to let them know that it just isn’t good enough! 🙂

  • It appears that they may be offering it only in the USA at the moment from feedback I have received from Australia as well.

  • virginia urbach

    What about the tweeters who are just advertising because they believe some of their followers might be interested in or curious about what is advertised. I believe in sharing but not for any type of monetary gain.

  • cheers for some nice tips here. Im always looking for new ways to market our businesses. I have used Facebook and had a bit of success there and obviously Google Adwords in the past and still now.

  • Advertising nowdays brings a multiple ways to show to the people Your brand and to be recognized without spend money, all thanks to the technology, in this case Twitter, Facebook. So we are absolutely agree with this article. Look it , find it and get it on Virtual adgency.! ,

  • Both accounts seem closed and not available to me 🙁

  • Jak D. Rippah

    In my industry, educational systems, I know more advertisers abandoning twitter because of its unsavory political, pornographic and spam content.

    There are more mainstream, harmonious, noiseless frameworks to inform and attract potential clients.