Analysis: Promoted Tweets = Real-Time Promotions + Reputation Management

Icontexto-inside-twitterYesterday Twitter unveiled a major milestone in its monetization strategy: Promoted Tweets.  Smart folks like Peter Kim, Jeremiah Owyang, John Battelle and Steve Rubel are already on record with some initial, smart reactions.

While TechCrunch reports that initial response among users is pretty negative, I am inclined to give Twitter the benefit of the doubt: in fact, I think they approached this advertising platform with unusual degrees of thoughtfulness.  The Resonance factor in particular is well-considered and intriguing; it could become a model for relevance scoring as the real-time Web grows. See this AllThingsD liveblog of the announcement by Peter Kafka for a nice round-up.

What will Promoted Tweets mean for Marketing?

This is yet another mile marker for marketing via Social Media. Maybe it’s too early to be thinking like this, and maybe I am just groggy from x-country travel and too-little sleep, but I think Twitter’s Promoted Tweets platform conceivably offers TWO COMPELLING BREAKTHROUGHS.

BREAKTHROUGH #1:  “REAL-TIME” MARKETING.

Obviously it will be cool, reasonable, and effective for a brand like Starbucks or Quiznos (client) to ensure that anyone who searches for “coffee” or “lunch” sees a Promoted Tweet, especially if it’s tied to a promotion.  “Click here for a coupon you can bring to the store for $1 off your purchase.”

The fact that such an offer can now “float atop the stream” – as in, not get lost in it! – is compelling.  It will be even more impactful if those Promoted Tweets can be based on time-of-day: if that Quiznos tweet is only viewable within a 3 hour window, and/or the coupon is only usable til 4pm, it might get re-tweeted more hurriedly (achieving more Resonance) and cashed-in more frenziedly: We are talking about REAL-TIME MARKETING here, people.

While obviously these tweets should not be too spammy, overwrought nor cheesey, rest assured that this approach will be a big part of the grand experiment.

BREAKTHROUGH #2: REPUTATION MANAGEMENT.

This is where I believe Promoted Tweets will shine, more so than anticipated.  Think back to the Dominos Crisis of last year (it was actually a year ago this week!) … If Promoted Tweets had existed at that point, the company’s official reactions and mea-culpas in the following days could have been promoted, and would have achieved a permanent “above the stream” status during those challenging days.

One of the tough things about using Twitter, when you’re a brand in a crisis, is the frenzied responsiveness required. The official corporate stream can become a mishmash of responses to thousands of users, which are incomprehensible (and frankly boring) to everyone else following the handle.

How often can we see a brand say something to the effect of, “Thanks for the feedback, @username, we’re working on it!” before we tire of the Reputation Management Madness?

But Promoted Tweets allows a brand some BREATHING ROOM.  The Twitter wranglers can rest assured that while they are frantically monitoring and dealing with individual users, their OFFICIAL RESPONSE will continue to float above the stream for anyone who happens to search for their brand due to the crisis.  And brand supporters can re-tweet that official response much more easily and readily, which serves to keep it “resonating” and alive.

Once the crisis settles, a brand might elect to spend its “Promoted Tweeting” budget in boosting the tweets of its supporters.  I can readily see some brand enthusiasts vying for the “badge” of having had one of their tweets officially promoted by their favorite brands.  “Look, Ma, Starbucks promoted my tweet!  I am practically famous!”

Compelling stuff.  Tread carefully into this garden for now — it is still very early and there could be some points that I am fuzzy on.  For example, if you endeavor to use promotions for real-time marketing, you might need to worry about what happens when that “short-term” tweet is indexed in perpetuity by Google!

But take it seriously.  Experiment.



Posted on: April 14, 2010 at 9:14 am By Todd Defren
21 Responses to “Analysis: Promoted Tweets = Real-Time Promotions + Reputation Management”

 

Comments
  • Richard says:

    “The fact that such an offer can now ‘float atop the stream’ – as in, not get lost in it! – is compelling. It will be even more impactful if those Promoted Tweets can be based on time-of-day: if that Quiznos tweet is only viewable within a 3 hour window, and/or the coupon is only usable til 4pm, it might get re-tweeted more hurriedly”

    re-tweeted more hurriedly? really? can people really consume/respond that timely to tweets? I’m a big ‘ol Twitter nerd, but because of my daily work environment, I only have the option to check my Twitter stream on my lunch hour or in the evening. For that reason, I really hate the idea of promotions only good within a 3-hour window.

    Just because technology enables the delivery and consumption of info in real-time doesn’t mean consumers can react in real-time, too.

  • George says:

    I think the most compelling advantage for marketers is that Twitter will be able to stick around. I mean four years and no cash? Something had to give.

    The generation who feels that everything needs to be free and is complaing even about ads needs to figure out that they put themselves in this situation. Google has tried other revenue platforms yet 99% of their revenue still comes from ads. It’e the only viable revenue model for these companies so get used to it. From now on it’s and Ad, Ad, Ad World.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Todd.

  • Paul desandro says:

    “Promoted Tweets” create a new way for companies to use twitter effectively. Creating real time promotions that “float” to the top of searches, allows companies to rise about the clutter. However, the content must be relevant and have a call to action. I was wondering how Twitter would combat its revenue stream problem and this appears to be their answer.
    I still struggle with the relevance of using Twitter besides creeping on celebrities. Most businesses already use Twitter as a marketing tool but consumers are already exposed to a vast amount of ads. So paying to have certain posts promoted helps companies rise above or helps them manage a crisis better but I don’t know how much of an impact it will have yet. With the Dominoes example, the company failed many levels and I don’t feel having a promoted tweet would have helped their crisis. Their main problem was their response was not timely enough in today’s marketplace.

  • CAITE VATCHER says:

    Frankly, I like this idea. Even though we are completely inundated with advertisements, I like the “atop the stream” approach. If I understand this correctly, these ads aren’t targeted so much through databases (like Facebook) but rather through somebody’s own search patterns, which I’m comfortable with. Likewise, it’s a simple tweet. Some advertisements can be these obnoxious full-page flash-enabled monsters that slow down my computer and probably cost a lot of money to place. A tweet on the other hand can be easily glossed over and it’s presence will not decrease my enjoyment of Twitter (that is, unless the entire site is taken over with ads).

    The idea works for crisis management but also brand awareness. Luxury brands can pop in when a certain celebrity is wearing their jewelry on the red carpet. Likewise, brands can use Twitter as a portal to get consumers to visit their website. In fact, I think in terms of advertising, this may be a break through. I’ve heard of many people who use Twitter as their primary news source. They look at trending topics to see what’s going on, then they’ll search a news provider to get more details. Essentially, Twitter provides three important things for a social networking portal

    1) The ability to keep in touch with people (human aspect)
    2) The ability to keep in touch with current events
    3) The ability to limit communication to include only the communication you want to hear.

    Therefore, done right, these ads could be highly effective.

  • I think the most compelling advantage for marketers is that Twitter will be able to stick around. I mean four years and no cash? Something had to give.

    The generation who feels that everything needs to be free and is complaing even about ads needs to figure out that they put themselves in this situation. Google has tried other revenue platforms yet 99% of their revenue still comes from ads. It’e the only viable revenue model for these companies so get used to it. From now on it’s and Ad, Ad, Ad World.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Todd.

  • “The fact that such an offer can now ‘float atop the stream’ – as in, not get lost in it! – is compelling. It will be even more impactful if those Promoted Tweets can be based on time-of-day: if that Quiznos tweet is only viewable within a 3 hour window, and/or the coupon is only usable til 4pm, it might get re-tweeted more hurriedly”

    re-tweeted more hurriedly? really? can people really consume/respond that timely to tweets? I’m a big ‘ol Twitter nerd, but because of my daily work environment, I only have the option to check my Twitter stream on my lunch hour or in the evening. For that reason, I really hate the idea of promotions only good within a 3-hour window.

    Just because technology enables the delivery and consumption of info in real-time doesn’t mean consumers can react in real-time, too.

  • I’m studying a module at university about Digital PR and we have to write about how organisations use Twitter and other forms of social media to spread the word, so-to-speak.

    If you checkout my blog, you will see that I talked about how organisations such as Eurostar failed to use Twitter in a crisis situation and this did nothing to help their reputation as the crisis worsened (during the harsh cold winter over the busy Christmas period in the UK it prevented the Eurostar trains to function between London and Paris and passengers got stuck in the Channel Tunnel). Therefore, I think it is very important for companies/organisations to have a Twitter account setup as it helps the organisation to communicate with their stakeholders in real time. News travels even faster in this digital era!

  • This concept of the “promoted tweet” is very interesting to me. It is certainly a way of using social media for companies to engage and interact with consumers. I read on the “Twitter Blog” that the promoted tweets must meet a “higher bar”, meaning they must resonate with users. So if users aren’t responding to the advertisement, then the ad will disappear.

    It seems to me that Twitter is trying to keep the traditional interface of social interaction which is a good thing. I think that the companies who are “jumping on the bandwagon” with this idea, so to speak, are very wise. It is a great way of interacting with customers and consumers and it is as you say a breakthrough. Real-time advertising has never been done as far as I know.

    I’m a little confused as to how the “promoted tweets” will help to salvage brand reputation. I understand the Domino’s crisis last year was a catastrophe, but had the PR team been on Twitter, couldn’t they have just released a tweet saying that they were working on it, something to that effect? Why would a “promoted tweet” be more significant?

    In the overall scheme of things, I do think that promoted tweets will greatly benefit marketing.

    • Todd Defren says:

      The benefit of the Promoted Tweet in a crisis is that the most relevant tweet ABOUT the crisis would always be the first one seen by anyone searching for more info. This gives the PR team room to respond to individual users, assured that their “official response/tweet” is ever-present in the twitterstream.

  • Marilyn casey says:

    Todd, I discovered your site via PRSA Issues & Trends. Wow! A breath of fresh air! As an accredited PR consultant who’s been in the biz for 30 years I’m learning the ropes of social media because, well, because — for the same reason I learned how to use a computer vs. a typewriter. You’ve got an ardent new fan! Many thanks!

  • Frank Strong says:

    Very interesting point about reputation management Todd. It could be a useful tool in crisis communications. Ethical questions: what does that mean to the price point? Can a bidding war be invoked? Say for example two sides are in contention, can one side outbid the other — the organization with the deepest pockets wins? I haven’t heard of examples of this happening with Google Ads, but Twitter is different with it’s central location.

    • Todd Defren says:

      It’s a relevant question. I don’t know the answer. But I thinkthose bidding wars DO happen on Google, and could well happen on Twitter. But, Twitter’s “resonance” factor might be more of a deciding factor than just the $…

  • Dan Schawbel says:

    Todd, that second observation is compelling and not something I’ve read about elsewhere. The only thing is that people don’t trust companies like they trust other people, especially when you have a million people complaining about them. The crowd seems to always beat the corporation when it comes to trust.

  • NookSurfer says:

    I’m kind of having mixed thoughts about this. Businesses today are already using Twitter as a form of advertising. I want to say that 75% of the tweets I see everyday are in some shape or form, advertising. Now that Twitter wants to cash in on their business, will this increase and encourage more businesses to participate or will this reduce the amount of spam we see?

  • Chris Norton says:

    Nice Post as always Todd, I think Twitter advertiesments aren’t that bad. I have done a straw poll myself today with my followers and I have found people to be quite receptive to them. Whether they will make enough money is another question.

    Real-time advertisements do offer us an opportunity but only in searches at the moment and I don’t believe a high percentage of Twitter users search on a regular basis. This is what my followers thought of the new adverts: http://tweasier.com/blog.

    • Todd Defren says:

      I agree about the rarity of searches. I can only presume, though, that Twitter analyzed that piece of the puzzle.

      Also consider that Promoted Tweets, ranked higher within Twitter, might ALSO rank higher within Google’s real-time search results?! Fascinating, if so.



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