6 Tips for Using Twitter’s Promoted Products for Brand Exposure

If the concept of opting for paid vs. earned exposure on social media makes some PR pros squirm, consider that there are now more than 400 million posts on Twitter per day (according to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, as of June 2012). Integrating Twitter's free and paid offerings is an underused way to reach a wider group of users or spark engagement from existing followers.

PR pros should take an integrated approach to communications, and using Twitter's promoted products—whether it's to promote a tweet, trend or account—can extend the reach of campaigns. Here are five tips on using the platform's paid offerings in addition to your organic efforts:

  1. Use Promoted Accounts to Start Fast: Much content has been published by PR News about how to make your brand heard on Twitter organically, but to be heard, you first must have an audience. If your brand is, for whatever reason, just getting started on Twitter, using the Promoted Account feature places your organization’s account on the Twitter homepage, a place where most people go to log in. Promoted Accounts are part of Twitter's Who to Follow section, which suggests accounts that people don’t currently follow and may find interesting.

  2. Promote Your Best Content: While using the paid products are a great way to kick off your new account or campaign, they can also help you propel your best preexisting content to a wider audience. If you're using a third-party analytics client for Twitter, see which of your tweets has generated the most organic retweets and responses (or use Google Analytics to see which pages on your site have generated the most shares on social media) and consider promoting that item. If your existing audience likes it, chances are your potential audience will, too.

  3. Promoted Tweets in a Crisis Crunch: Integrating a paid and earned strategy can help a brand have its messaging heard during a crisis above all others, and Twitter's Paid Tweets option is one of the best crisis resources. “'Paid' is not a dirty word," says Dallas Lawrence, chief global digital strategist at Burson-Marsteller and speaker at PR News' Oct. 2 Social Media Measurement Conference, who was part of the Nuclear Energy Institute and Burson-Marsteller team that won PR News' 2011 Digital PR Award for best digital crisis management for its work during Japan's nuclear crisis. “It’s an effective way to amplify your messages and go from 1,000 impressions to 150,000 in one day," says Lawrence.

  4. Don’t Max Out the 140-Character Limit: While keeping your messaging limited to 140 characters may be hard enough as it is, Lawrence says that tweets with 80-100 characters are also significantly more likely to be more retweeted. Allow space for "RT," which is three characters when used with a space, followed by your handle, and leave extra characters for the retweeter to provide additional commentary to the tweet.

  5. Include a Call to Action: Be sure there’s a call to action with promoted tweets, says Nada Arnot, chief digital officer at RF Binder. “You must drive people to do something—such as a retweet giveaway,” in which followers who retweet your post can win a prize.

  6. Use a Hashtag in Promoted Tweets: The good news: Arnot calls Promoted Trends the holy grail for social media advertisers. Users see time-, context- and event-sensitive trends promoted by advertisers, and promoted Trends appear at the top of the Trending Topics list on Twitter, a choice location and worth the expense for some big brands. The bad news: The cost of a Promoted Trend is $120,000 per 24-hour period, says Arnot. That's why, if are you're paying for a Promoted Tweet, introduce the hashtag you intend to use either for an event, product or new brand campaign. Once your paid campaign ends, continue using the hashtag to extend the life of your campaign for free. 

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

To become an expert in measuring the effectiveness of your Twitter campaigns, register for PR News' October 2 Social Media Measurement Conference in New York City.