Twitter Paid Products: A Little Knowledge Could Supercharge Your Social Outreach

There’s little doubt that PR pros keep hearing this same tune: PR, marketing and advertising are becoming intertwined, particularly as digital/social media becomes more prevalent. So that means PR pros can’t just think about “earned” efforts both online and offline—they must take an integrated approach to communications.

This is why communicators should be in-the-know about the paid products available on social media platforms in general, and on Twitter specifically. Why Twitter? Because there are close to 500 million Twitter accounts worldwide, and close to 200 million tweets sent per day. Twitter is fast becoming the leading platform for brands to not only converse with their audiences, but a way to point customers to content and disseminate news—whether it’s a B2B or consumer play.

Much has been written in these pages about how to make your brand heard on Twitter organically but, now, here’s the skinny on the platform’s paid offerings; the advantages—and disadvantages—of using each (see the Twitter chart for cost and performance comparisons).


Promoted Accounts are part of Who to Follow, which suggests accounts that people don’t currently follow and may find interesting. Promoted Accounts help introduce an even wider variety of accounts that people may enjoy. “It helps you scale your followers,” says Nada Arnot, chief digital officer at RF Binder. Promoted Accounts are displayed on Twitter as part of the Who to Follow widget on the left side of the logged-in homepage.

The advantage of using Promoted Accounts is that your organization’s account will be viewed on the Twitter homepage, a place where most people go to log in, says Arnot. Thus, it’s a great tool for accounts just getting started.


Promoted Tweets are ordinary tweets you can purchase when you want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers. There’s one difference, of course, between a promoted and regular tweet: they are clearly labeled as “Promoted.”

“These tweets will not only integrate with tweets within timelines of followers, but within their followers and people who are searching or posting about a keyword related to your tweet,” says Robert Ricci, group senior VP, social media at Marina Maher Communications.

Promoted Tweets are great for steering people toward a specific topic or offering, says Katie Creaser, VP at Affect, a PR and social media agency. “If you have a topical piece of content that’s on a Web site, a Promoted Tweet can be used to drive visitors toward that content,” she says (see the mini case study for a real-word example).

In the grand scheme of paid social media vehicles, Ricci believes that Promoted Tweets are underused by brands, “so its still a tactic that is new and different.” Ricci says his agency recently partnered with a new spokeperson for a Procter & Gamble brand who has 3 million followers. “We worked with her on a Sponsored Tweet, and had her be the breaker of news,” says Ricci. Then, from the brand channel—which had a mere 10,000 followers—the tweet was retweeted.

Be sure there’s a call to action with these tweets, says Arnot. “You must drive people to do something—such as a ‘retweet giveaway,’” in which followers who retweet your post can win a prize.


Arnot calls Promoted Trends the holy grail for social media advertisers. Yet it’s a grail that’s hard to grasp for most, given that the cost of a Promoted Trend is $120,000 per 24-hour period.

With Promoted Trends, users see time-, context- and event-sensitive trends promoted by advertisers. Promoted Trends appear at the top of the Trending Topics list on Twitter, a choice location and worth the expense for some big brands.

There are general considerations and caveats if you’re thinking about deploying any one of the three Twitter paid products. They include:

• Know what the competitive landscape is, says Arnot, and have some objectives going in. Are you building followers or building awareness?

• Have a dedicated resource to manage the Twitter paid process. “I liken it to an SEO campaign—it requires constant monitoring and adjustment,” says Creaser.

• Follow the FTC social media guidelines to maintain honesty and transparency in your paid social media, says Ricci. If you pay a blogger to tweet about your product, that must be disclosed.

By familiarizing yourself with paid social media products, there’s no doubt you’ll further “earn” your PR keep.


Nada Arnot,; Robert Ricci,; Katie Creaser,

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01