Essential Guide for Twitter Self-Serve ads

August 01, 2012

Collective Measures
A few months ago, Twitter launched a self-serve ad platform for small businesses. Here's an essential guide and 10 vital tips to success using the platform.

A few months ago Twitter rolled out self-serve advertising for small businesses. Using a promotion from American Express, accounts could sign up to receive  a $100 credit and be among the first to use the service. After a few months and about $500, here’s some essential tips and a quick user’s guide. The Bottom Line: Twitter Ads for Small Business is a great way for business to grow their follower lists and get important messages in front of more people, in an easy, economical way. I like the service and am continuing it into the unforeseen future (and we’re crazy “measure the value” folks). Best feature: It’s easy. With only about 5 features in the dashboard, launching Twitter Ads is a snap. If you have a credit card (not sure if it has to be an American Express anymore) and a Twitter account, you can be up and running in about 10 minutes. Just think of the power! Worst feature: It thinks everything is relevant. It says it uses a “uses a variety of signals” to determine relevancy and then “Promoted Tweets also appear to users similar to an advertising account’s followers. Promoted Tweets will only appear in the timeline of a non-follower if the Tweet is likely to be interesting and relevant to that user.” That’s a lot a control I’ve given up. In short:

1.   It decides who to show it to

2.   It decides what is interesting

But it’s an easy judge. I complained about my hotel: Promoted! I tweeted about a thriller I read: Promoted! I tweeted about kittens: Promoted! I’m tweeting a lot less, now that anything I write could be promoted. Many might argue that it’s a good thing I’m tweeting less, but kittens are just so adorable that I need to talk about them sometimes.

How to use the Twitter ads dashboard.

1.   Choose your location. This allows you to choose the location of people who might see your tweets, You can choose city, state, or country. In the self-serve dashboard there isn’t a feature yet to determine this on a tweet-by-tweet basis, which will be very handy when it arrives.

2.   Choose your objective: clicks or followers. You can choose either or both, and set a cost per click that you’re willing to pay for each one. You can also set a daily limit. The suggested CPC changes, and sometimes ranges pretty high. As with all CPC, if you’re willing to pay more, it will show more often, more prominently, and you’ll thus achieve a higher click-through-rate. 

3.   Override the promoted Tweets. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. As mentioned above, Twitter is still somewhat indiscriminate in choosing what’s important. So you should to go in and tell it what not to show. Every time you tweet something that you don’t want to be promoted, you should go to the ad dashboard and tell it not to promote that tweet. 

4.   Detailed Stats. Use the dashboard to see which tweets have received the most impressions and clicks. If you turn one off quickly it might show very few impressions. 

10 Essential Tips for using Twitter Ads.

1.   Determine your objectives. Like any good marketing plan, determine what you want to get out of it. If you can measure the value of each action, that’s even better because then you have a hard number of whether it’s worth it.

2.   Localize. Choose the location of users most likely to meet your objectives. Promoting a local restaurant? Choose your city only. Are you a national business? Target the US.

3.   Set budgets. Choose a daily budget and a cost per click. Is it really worth $5 for each new follower? If you’re a manufacturer trying to show industry leadership in your field, it might be worth that much to get a new follower who could turn into a lead. We post a lot of job openings and a higher cost per click is worth it to us to get in front of a new crowd.

4.   You don’t have to follow their budget guidelines. If they suggest $14 cost per click, you might decide it’s only worth $1.05. That’s ok, but be ready for lower clickthrough rates and that your account or tweet won’t show as often. It’s likely based on competition, so someone is getting value from it.

5.   Use caution with hashtags. If you’re promoting a tweet and use a hashtag, you’ll be charged if people click on the hashtag. My “#greenmnms” hashtag that refers to “reading the fine print” got 10 clicks, spending about $1 per click. 

6.    Link to your site. You’re trying to promote a special offer, or deeper content that shows your industry knowledge. Ask yourself “will someone want to hire me or buy my product if they read this?”

7.   Don’t link to other sites. You get charged for clicks (which include favorites, replies, retweets), so if you put a link in there, you’re going to get charged for clicking on that link. 

 8.   Make a good landing page. The standard eMarketing mantra holds true. Have a call to action on your landing page, and make sure that the page is a good first impression for visitors who have never been to your website before.

9.   Encode your links. Add a campaign ID or a Google UTM code to each link. This allows you to separate tweets, topics, and campaigns so you can measure and continuously improve.

10.   Don’t “set it and forget it”! Every time you post a tweet, go into the dashboard and make sure you disallow that tweet unless it’s one that will further your objectives. Twitter says that “our algorithms will automatically select your most engaging content and broadcast it to the people you’re trying to reach.” But it’s hard for any algorithm to understand relevancy and nuance.