Twitter Advertising: How to Reach and Engage Your Audience

Thinking about exploring Twitter advertising?

Even though Twitter is a social media platform, meant to be a place where people can interact, it can also be used as an advertising and marketing platform.

That said, there are marketers who know how to make Twitter work for them, and there are others who get their accounts banned every other day.

In this article we’re going to focus on you being part of the former group instead of the latter, so we’re going to give you a 5 step guide to Twitter advertising and marketing.

1. Research and decision time

Every marketing campaign should start with some fundamental research work. No matter if it’s email marketing, PPC marketing, or … wait for it … Twitter marketing.

Twitter’s native search engine is a good place to start your research (Twitter search). You should always begin by defining your target audience and making sure that they are indeed present on Twitter.

Even though Twitter is a pretty mainstream platform, it’s still more popular among certain groups of people. If you start by naming a small range of keywords and putting them into the Twitter search you can make sure that there are some discussions going on around them… In other words – that there’s an audience.

What’s also worth looking for are other marketers and brands trying to reach the same audiences. If you manage to find some competition it is a good indication that the niche you’re aiming at is alive on Twitter.

2. Choosing your approach

Twitter can be tackled from a number of different angles. As we said, some people simply try to spam as many users as possible because they don’t know any better, but this isn’t anything advisable.

Basically, there are two main approaches you can take. You either go the natural (organic) way, build your presence on Twitter, and then market to your audience of engaged users, or you can go the other way and use advertising platforms to get some instant exposure and traffic. It kind of reminds us of how SEM is done.

There are good and bad sides to both approaches. If you decide to go the organic way it can take you serious time to see any significant results. The game is not about making a couple of bucks on the side, it’s about turning Twitter into a serious stream of affiliate revenue.

If you decide to go the paid way you can stumble upon some cost-to-profit ratio problems. Social media is believed to have a somewhat low ROI. Most campaigns don’t work in terms of direct response. Finding a winner can take some time and money.

3. Getting followers

No matter which approach you choose you still need to attract a number of followers if you want to be portrayed as someone who’s serious about Twitter. It’s much more important for natural campaigns because you can’t do anything on Twitter without followers, but it’s also a valid concern for paid advertising on Twitter, just to get your brand to look real.

There are just two ways of getting big numbers of followers. You have to either become famous (or at least highly recognizable) in your niche first, then join Twitter and let people follow you naturally, or you can start following people first and then become recognizable. The latter tends to work a lot better.

Therefore, the easiest way of attracting followers is following them first. This can be outsourced, and it probably should be because it can consume some serious time.

A good place to start is by using the keywords list you created for your initial research, and following all people who are talking about the niche you want to join. You still want to maintain a high followers-to-following ratio, so unfollowing people who are not following you might be a good idea.

4. Launching campaigns

First, let’s talk the natural approach. In such a case a campaign is simply a well-crafted tweet published every now and then. As we said before, blasting hundreds of direct messages is not a method because it gets your account banned very quickly, so don’t even try this if you’re serious about Twitter.

A well-crafted tweet is something that’s engaging, interesting, and at the same time, it’s promotional in nature, forcing people to visit a site and take action. The only way of making this work is not to publish such tweets too often. One promotional tweet for nine non-promotional tweets is probably a good place to start.

The paid side of things is a lot more interesting, actually. Let’s start with the native promotional platform Twitter offers – promoted tweets. Essentially, you can purchase a number of tweets to be exposed to a wider group of users, not only your followers.

Those promoted tweets can appear in several places, including the top of relevant search results done on Twitter search, and the timelines of users if the tweet is relevant to their profiles. You can find more information about how it works at the business center of Twitter advertising – promoted tweets.

Apart from what Twitter has to offer itself, there are also a number of external advertising services that allow you to reach out to Twitter’s users. Two of them have been around for a while and deserve some coverage here.

Unofficial Twitter Advertising

Adly is a platform that lets you reach millions of people using celebrities to spread your message.

The idea is simple; if you’re willing to spend a certain amount of money you can get a number of celebrities (influencers) to tweet your message from their accounts. In plain English: if you want Snoop Dogg to tweet on your behalf, this is the place.

Everything works on a flat fee per influencer basis. The cost here can be significant so the whole service is targeted mostly towards high-level affiliates who have the money and their research done right. One celebrity sending out one tweet can cost you anything from $200 to the low five figures.

Sponsored Tweets is a platform somewhat similar to Adly but it gives you an AdWords-like interface to work with.

You start by defining the message you want to spread, and the people you want to reach. Then you set details, like maximum cost per tweet you’re willing to pay, a minimum number of followers an account tweeting your message needs to have, and so on. Next, you have to select categories that your message falls into. Finally, you get a list of Twitter users who meet your criteria, so you can go through it and select people who will end up sending your message to their followers.

5. Tracking and improving

No matter what approach you’re going for, you still need to take care of tracking and measuring your results.

For natural campaigns, you can use a tool like Buffer or something similar.

Buffer can be used to schedule tweets and put them in a buffer, but it also provides some basic tracking and analytics. For each tweet, you publish you can see its reach (number of people that have probably seen it), number of clicks, retweets, mentions, and favorites. This should be enough to decide whether a given tweet was successful or not.

One additional thing you can do is sign up for a service like Twilert.

Basically, it’s Google Alerts for Twitter. You can use it to monitor your brand’s presence on Twitter, or any other term you find interesting and valuable for your campaigns.

Both advertising platforms mentioned above provide tracking and analytics. They let you monitor your campaigns’ results and use this data to improve your future promotions. Both platforms also make it clear which ones of the people who sent out your tweets performed the best, so you can use them again in the future.

Promoting anything on social media is all about tracking and keeping your finger on the pulse. If you don’t do this you will lose a lot of money in a very short time.

In the end, this Twitter advertising strategy can be summarized as this: Research first, choose your approach, build your follower base, launch your campaigns, track and improve everything.