Getting started with Twitter advertising

by on April 4, 2014

I was granted some free Twitter advertising credits from the good folks at SocialOomph, so it was a great opportunity to test drive the ad platform, which was only just recently rolled out to accounts in Canada.

Why would you advertise on Twitter?

  • Make people more aware of your brand and your business
  • Highlight a special promotion
  • Boost your followers
  • Get your content in front of more people

Bonus – with your Twitter advertising account you get access to Twitter Analytics, their proprietary tracking and analytics platform.

Step by step guide to setting up Twitter ads

Twitter advertising

When you set up your credit card, your account will be ready to go. Twitter will pre-populate a promoted tweets campaign and a promoted account campaign. Now it’s time to get things set up as you want them to. Simply click on the pause button if you want to stop either of the campaigns or if you’re going to do the set-up later.

Twitter advertising


A promoted account campaign is about attracting new followers. You pay when a follower is added to your account. For the most part, if you’re doing things yourself, you’ll be looking at targeting by interests and followers. There is the ability to target with other data (“tailored audiences”), such as individuals from your email list for example, but this is a more sophisticated and complex undertaking that is beyond the scope of this post. You can learn more about that here if you’re interested.

Click on the promoted account campaign and then click on “Edit campaign” in the top right corner.

Twitter ads

Now that you’re in the edit page, you have lots of options to customize your campaign…

1. Name your campaign and add customized start and end dates if you want.

Twitter advertising

2. Now it’s time to target your campaign.

Twitter advertising

~ You can add user names of other tweeps who also serve the same target audience as you. Just start typing in the username and Twitter will bring up the account. There’s also a neat little bit of functionality once you’ve added in a few user names that allows you to browse Twitter’s recommendations – choose the ones that work and click the “add usernames” button.

Twitter advertising
~ Add in interests.
~ You will see the audience size on the right hand side continue to change as you add fields.
~ Add locations – you can only target accounts in the US, Canada and the UK right now. For the US, you can get right down to city and zip code level. In Canada as of right now you can only go as deep as province, so not ideal if you’re a local business. Advertising has not rolled out to other areas yet.
~ You can limit by gender if that’s important to your biz.

3. You can now add a customized little blurb (still in beta) to tell people why they should follow your account. 140 characters just like tweets. Don’t add links – just tell users why they should follow you and what’s in it for them.

Twitter advertising

Here’s what I did:

Twitter advertising

4. Now you set the budget:

Twitter advertising
~ You can set a total budget as well as a daily cap that won’t be exceeded which is a good option for ensuring you don’t go over what you want to spend, just in case you forget to check in. Also good when you’re first starting to get a sense of how quickly a budget gets used for your account and settings.
~ Twitter will suggest a bid price for you per follow.
~ Your estimated reach will adjust as you change up your bid. You can always come back in and change any of the settings at any time. The higher the bid, the more people will see it.

Then click to Save campaign.


Using a promoted tweets campaign delivers specific tweets into the timelines of your targeted audience. This type of campaign is focused around your tweet, rather than just generally promoting your account. Perfect for highlighting your content or getting Twitter users to take action on a promotion or offer. You pay per engagement – when someone clicks, retweets, replies, favourites or follows.

If you decide to target by interests and users, as we did above, many of the settings and set-up will be similar. Here are a few of the differences to consider for your Promoted Tweet campaign.

  • You have some different targeting options with a promoted tweets account. The “tailored audiences” option mentioned above is one way, and you can also target by keywords (perfect if someone that would be interested in your offer or content would search by a specific keyword) or by interests and followers (which is like the steps we went over above for the promoted account campaign set-up, targeting specific types of Twitter users interested in particular things).

Twitter advertising

  • In addition to being able to target the followers of accounts with a similar target audience to yours, you can also include your existing Twitter follower base in your campaign if you so choose.

Twitter advertising

  • Keep your promoted tweets focused – stay away from hashtags, @mentions or other elements that could detract a user away from your link, which is the focus of your campaign. Twitter also suggested to stay away from an image, but in my opinion a picture could help draw attention to your tweet, so by all means give an image a shot. As with any advertising you do, especially online campaigns, it’s all about testing different approaches and seeing what works.
  • Speaking of testing, try a few different content variations of tweets to see what gets the most attention and traction.
  • You can choose to promote tweets that you have already sent, but for most intents and purposes, you will be creating a new tweet(s) specifically for your campaign. Just click on promote new tweet and this tweet will only be shown to those targeted in your campaign.
  • Conversion tracking – If you are going to be seriously taking on Twitter advertising and want to tie your ads to specific tweets and specific outcomes, such as lead generation, or purchase, you’ll want to diligently track conversions to understand whether what you’re spending is getting you anywhere. This is another more advanced tactic (more here) that may require the help of a marketing professional and your web team – feel free to contact me if you need a hand).

Here’s what I did:
Twitter ads

Twitter advertising resource

Twitter ads 101  is a really in-depth resource covering all the ins and outs of Twitter campaigns, including tweet samples. The Twitter team is very strongly supporting this new product of theirs – of course, they want to make money! So you can get plenty of help from them around your ad campaigns.

So how did ads work out for me?

Well, this was a very small test, so that should be kept in mind. And also keep in mind that different industries and different target audiences will have very different results.

I did find that I attracted some great quality followers, but also some irrelevant, even spammy ones (I’ve noticed this as a trend with some of my clients as well). This seems to be part of the game when it comes to social media advertising. Facebook “like” campaigns are also mired in this. Also did not notice any interactions, such as retweets or any sort of relationship building, conversations as a result of the campaign.

The timing of this credit was not ideal for me as I was heading on holidays and was not able to set up any sort of special promotion that I could test out. So I feel that I was not able to give the promoted tweets thing enough of a try. I could see it being quite powerful for targeting specific types of offers.

So if you’ve tried Twitter advertising yourself (perhaps you’re on my list and you took advantage of the credits I offered to you?), I would love to hear in the comments the experiences you had. How was conversion? What was the quality of the followers or interactions you got? Was it worth it and will you advertise again?

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