Twitter may not be right for every audience or every campaign, but in the right circumstances, it can be a game changer.
Sometimes, it can even beat Facebook.
I learned this by accident last year when I was advertising on both platforms to get some surveys completed. Incredibly, Twitter beat out Facebook in cost per survey completed. Beat out Facebook by a lot, too:
I was able to get clicks from Twitter for $0.26 to $0.48 cents per click, compared to clicks from Facebook that cost over a dollar.
But the real difference came in conversion rates. Twitter ad clicks converted nearly three times better than Facebook traffic did, buying me a completed survey for about $2 from Twitter, but for almost $10 per survey on Facebook.
Part of the reason the Twitter ads performed may be because the competition is so much less on Twitter than on Facebook. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2017 Social Media Industry Report, only 15% of the marketers (social media marketers, too) they surveyed are using Twitter ads. For comparison, 93% of the marketers they surveyed use Facebook ads.
The reduced competition may be one factor, but if you’re a pro advertiser, you know that just the specs I gave you don’t show a full “apples to apples” comparison of the two campaigns.
So let’s fill in the details. I choose the same countries and interests on each platform. Also, I turned off the advertising network exposure for ads on both networks. No Facebook ad network, no whatever Twitter calls their version of third-party sites. I did not have the budget to blow on potentially spammy third-party sites/ad networks.
For a separate campaign on Facebook, I even uploaded an email file of freelancers’ emails to Facebook to get a lookalike audience. But I was still paying nearly $1 per click, and still (even more importantly) getting wimpy conversion rates.
So after blowing about $150 on Facebook, trying to get those surveys filled out affordably, I just gave up and stuck to the Twitter ads. I was able to “buy” completed surveys for about the same amount or less than I would have paid to buy completed surveys from a survey vendor, but I got the added bonus of really tightly controlling who was seeing the ads.
So Twitter ads can work. Can work really well, actually. And so here are some tips for how to do far better with your Twitter ads. Or – if you’ve never used the platform before – here’s how to set up your first campaigns in a way that sets you up for success.
1. Advertise what’s already working.
If you advertise on Facebook, you almost certainly know one of the golden rules of social media advertising: Push what’s already working.
In other words, don’t just make an ad and start spending on it. Instead, create several posts that fit the message of your ad, then see which one your audience responds to best. Pay to promote that post.
Pay to promote what naturally works best in the first place.
This is an easy way to cut your advertising costs in half, or at least by 20-30%. The only work required is to create a couple of different posts, then schedule them to post at a time you know tends to do well for engagement.
This may mean it takes a few extra days to get your campaign up and running. But… if it’s your money you’re spending, I bet you’ll be willing to put in a few extra hours to save, oh, half of your advertising costs.
If it’s not your own money you’re spending, think of it the other way: Finding a top-performing post means you’ll be able to basically buy twice as many clicks (and twice as many results) for the same amount of budget.
One way to apply this: Use video. It gets more attention. Just be sure to use videos formatted for Twitter. And keep it short – 6-second videos slightly out-perform longer ones according to the recent Twitter research.
2. Pick the right ad for the job.
Personally, I think Twitter ads are best-suited for driving traffic to a landing page on your site. That’s the best way to guarantee you get results from your advertising spend.
But that’s not the only way to use Twitter ads. You can use them to grow your following, too. Or to get more engagement for particular posts (perhaps a Twitter poll…). Or you can promote a post or a video.
If your marketing goals put brand visibility over specific conversions, some of those ad types might make sense.
3. Target like your budget (or your raise) depends on it.
Twitter is a far smaller platform than Facebook, but there are still enough people on it to be choosy about who your ads appear for. So while targeting the followers of a couple key influencers is a great start, add keyword targeting and some other criteria to increase the odds that your final audience will be interested in your ad.
My best-performing Twitter campaign for the survey ads targeted one location, 11 Twitter handles, 1 interest and two keywords. That was still more than enough of an audience to generate over four hundred completed surveys.
Of course, if you’re running a massive campaign and need, say 4,000 conversions, you’ll have to be less choosy about your targeting. Or you’ll have to create multiple ads that appeal to different audiences. Or you’ll have to make a juicier offer in your ad. Or you’ll have to do all three things at once…
I actually didn’t take Twitter’s targeting features far enough. You can, for instance, upload a file of email contacts, Twitter IDs or Mobile Ad IDs to Twitter to create a custom audience.
If you don’t have a big enough email list to make that feature work (usually it takes about 500-1,000 emails to make a reliable lookalike audience), then just use Twitter handles. A few searches through Twitter account bios on Followerwonk can easily generate a large enough list that you can upload to Twitter for more targeted ads.
You can also target by:
- Device. Twitter is heavily mobile… does your landing page work well for mobile users?
- Country. Consider using a tool like Tweepsmap.com to identify the countries your existing customers or your target customers come from.
- 21 different “Behaviors” like travel, household, and business.
- Interests (23 categories with 350 subtopics). You can choose up to two main category interests, or up to ten total subtopics.
- Keywords. Don’t forget to use quotes if you want exact matches for your keywords. For example: “social media marketer”.
- Followers of specific Twitter accounts. For example: @RandFish, @AdStage, etc.
- Emails lists, Twitter Ids and Mobile Ad IDs (mentioned above).
- TV markets or by TV programming times. More on this in a second…
4. Hook into people’s passions… or at least their favorite television shows.
This tip is particularly important if you’re marketing something that’s “boring” (looking at you, B2B marketers…). And I’m specifically thinking about the television targeting options Twitter has. You can, for instance, target users in specific TV markets, but you can also target any viewer when a specific show is airing.
How would that help? Well, let’s say you happen to have looked at your Twitter analytics data (or at other analytics data from your site or from 3rd parties), and you happen to know your followers are into… say… Game of Thrones. Or The Good Fight. Or Barry. Or whatever Rotten Tomatoes says the hot new shows are.
You now have:
a) The best excuse ever for binge-watching TV.
b) Crazy-rich material to make up new social media ads with.
c) A way to hook your audience’s interest more powerfully than the technical details of your products or services ever could.
This technique works best if you can find a show that both your target audience and people in your office are into. It makes coming up with ads more fun, and makes it more likely you’ll get support for an idea like this internally.
If you’re employed at, say, a law firm, you’re going to need some support for an idea like this, as it’s considerably more creative and risky than most professional services or B2B creative. Which is exactly why it will stand out, get attention, and hopefully get clicks and conversions. But you may need a senior-level advocate to get the creative approved.
Sprout Social’s recent study of consumer views of social media advertising backs this up. People are much more likely to engage with social media content that entertains them:
5. Skip the hashtags.
This is a recommendation from Twitter itself. I’d love to see a split-test to prove this theory, but they say hashtags are good for engagement but bad if you want people to take action.
Not sure if this is true, either? You could…
Twitter makes it very easy to test multiple ad creatives. So use the feature.
Just do remember to pick an ad based on statistically valid results. There are plenty of free tools that make this easy. My favorite is Perry Marshall’s Split Tester, but Visual Website Optimizer has a good one, too.
7. Use the classic words and tricks of advertising copy.
Here are the words copywriters have been swearing by for decades:
Adding “you” to a call to action or a headline can increase click-through rate by 30% or more.
Everybody loves free.
- Communicate urgency via words like “now” or “today”.
The Twittersphere lives in the moment. Your ad should, too.
- Ask a question.
People unconsciously and automatically respond to questions. It’s what made the “Got Milk?” campaign great. Just be careful which questions you ask. If the consumer’s automatic answer to your ad’s question is “No”, your question – and your ad – just shut down the conversation.
- Use percent off rather than dollar amounts.
I’ve seen this recommendation for email copy, landing pages… and now for Twitter ads. It makes sense. “20% off your first order” is more compelling than “$10 off your first order of $50 or more.”
Back to you
Have you run a Twitter advertising campaign yet? What are your best tips for getting great results? Come on – drop some knowledge on us. Share just one of your tricks for better Twitter ads in the comments.