Much has been written about the roll-out of ‘Promoted Tweets,’ Twitter’s new advertising feature. Many are discussing the business model and debating if/how advertising will impact the platform’s user experience. I had the pleasure attending the debut of Promoted Tweets by Dick Costolo, COO of Twitter at the AdAge Digital Conference 2010.
If you’re unfamiliar with how Promoted Tweets work, they have the same attributes of normal Tweets, however they are displayed in Twitter Search results rather than in the context of conversations. Twitter has initially chosen to do this because it is less disruptive to the user experience. Twitter’s cautious approach is an acknowledgement of the consideration that they give to users. It will, at least in this phase, be a disadvantage to marketers and communicators given that Twitter Search only makes up a small portion (approx. 3%) of Twitter’s overall traffic. Marketers want to be where the action is and will want to promote in a manner that is contextually relevant to users. Within Twitter, the action (reach and relevance) is within individual user timelines. Twitter is eventually planning on integrating Promoted Tweets into the individual timelines, but it’s important that they do this in a very measured, contextually relevant manner – or risk upsetting an already sensitive user base.
Promoted Tweets, once rolled out into individual timelines will be a powerful mechanism for raising visibility of brands and messages to consumers, not only for marketing and campaign visibility, but also as a rapid response strategy for managing a company’s reputation during a crisis.
Twitter has admitted that they are very much in the experimental stage of Promoted Tweets and they are piloting with a handful of big brands such as Virgin Atlantic and Starbucks. While early adopters of Promoted Tweets are getting some visibility in the media, most brands may want to wait and evaluate both the adoption curve as well as consumer/community backlash on inserting advertising into the very personal conversations that are had online. Once Promoted Tweets have been integrated into individual timelines with the ability to target content based on conversation, and it is clear that these practices have been accepted by the public, then it may make more sense to jump in.Cohn and Wolfe Blog