Remember that Twitter is a unique marketing ecosystem; it warrants a strategy that's as distinctive as the site itself.
The Associated Press is accustomed to writing headlines, but it recently made some of its own when it launched a new ad campaign on Twitter. The ads weren't designed to promote AP, but Samsung. And both parties circumvented Twitter's ad service to buy and place them.
Given that the @AP feed has over 1.5 million followers, it's an attractive advertising opportunity for a consumer brand. Still, some objected to the deal, saying it showed a lack of "journalism ethics" by blurring the line between editorial and ad (AP did clearly label the post "Sponsored Tweet"). Truth be told, this isn't the first time brands have taken Twitter advertising into their own hands. Before Twitter introduced Promoted Tweets in 2010, brands found many clever ways to market themselves on the social network. Starbucks tweeted special offers. H&R Block held Q&A sessions. Volvo fed its tweets into a YouTube banner ad.
Brands find what works for them and run with it - always have, always will. These days most stick with Promoted Tweets, along with Promoted Accounts (branded accounts are recommended to users through Twitter Search and Who to Follow) and Promoted Trends (accounts appear alongside trending topics). It isn't the method of ad delivery we should be focusing on, but the content. Samsung may have taken an unorthodox approach by partnering with AP, but its message, which tied in with the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), was relevant, timely, and memorable. Here's how to make sure your Twitter ads are, too.
Know Your Amplifiers
You know your target audience. You know what type of consumer you need to reach. But do you know how to reach the Twitter users who are most likely to give your campaign momentum?
Twitter calls these people "amplifiers." They're the users most likely to retweet a post, and they're a valuable target for brands. According to Twitter, amplifiers are apt to access the network by mobile device (54 percent), tweet photos (107 percent), and share videos (89 percent). They're also twice as likely as the average Twitter user to follow more than 20 brands, and are receptive to receiving promotions, discounts, sales information, and branded content.
When you're developing your Twitter campaign, keep these users in mind. Craft your ads in a way that will appeal to their interests without alienating your core customer base. Even attracting just a handful of these uber-tweeters will help spread your message online.
Make Content Sharable
Promoted Tweets should contain information that's of value to your audience. That's a no-brainer, right? The point, after all, is to post something that users will pass around. But many brands approach Promoted Tweets as though they're traditional ads, recycling ad copy that wasn't intended for the medium at hand.
A Promoted Tweet has more in common with a brand tweet than a paid ad, so it should contain an engaging message and content that users are eager to share. Post a link to a video history of your company, a first look at your latest product, a virtual tour of your offline event, your new TV spot - something relevant to the brand that also gives consumers a thrill and makes them want to share your ad with others.
Make Ads Timely
So much of what constitutes a tweet worthy of retweets is the timing of the information. As with any real-time social platform, consumers want it now, and if it isn't fresh, it isn't relevant. Just as an article that was published two months ago won't garner attention, a Twitter ad featuring old product news or a message that's already everywhere else won't generate much interest. It might even send the message that your brand is outmoded and dull.
One of the reasons Twitter has become so incredibly popular and is increasingly treated as an alternative source of news is that it's current. So if your message coincides with something that's happening elsewhere in the world (and therefore also elsewhere on Twitter) like a holiday, award ceremony, major trade show, or prevalent trend, users will sit up and take notice.
Show Some Personality
It's important to interact with the consumers that respond to your Twitter ads. It's essential to do it in a way that reflects the personality of your brand. "Thank you for being a valued customer" isn't going to fly. It's safe, it's sanguine, but it's also inauthentic, and it doesn't say a thing about what makes your brand unique. An ad campaign on Twitter extends beyond the Sponsored Tweet to a conversation. It's one of the things that makes Twitter an appealing platform for brands, and it can't be overlooked once your ad has been placed.
It's been years since the first Twitter campaign went live, and though brands are still exploring all that the network has to offer, there has never been a better time to advertise. Just remember that Twitter is a unique marketing ecosystem. It warrants a strategy that's as distinctive as the site itself.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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