I am conflicted. It’s as if I have a pocket-sized devil on one shoulder and a diminutive angel on the other. The one with a pitchfork is prodding me to start using Twitter’s “Promoted Tweets” service, while its halo-wearing counterpart tells me to trust the community to discover and share remarkable content organically. Each makes a sound argument, and although the angel has had my ear to-date, the devil is starting to command my attention.
Here’s what each has to say:
Go ahead. Promote your tweets. Twitter, like all social networks, is a communications channel, and marketers hawk their goods on every channel. You already advertise on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google; you pay SlideShare for a fancy branded channel, as well. Why should Twitter be any different? Why the double standard?
Besides, you love Twitter, right? Don’t you want to see it succeed? At some point, it’s going to have to prove to be a viable business if it’s to last. You can play a role in its survival and help your business at the same time. Classic win/win.
Promoted tweets are a safe advertising spend. You pay only for engagement—such as a clicked link—and not for the tweet being served. It’s smart. Twitter can be a noisy place, and Twitter’s “packaging” of promoted content makes sure your links have the best odds of being clicked. The company is also getting pretty innovative when it comes to matching promoted content with relevant members. You invest considerable time, effort and money in killer content. Twitter can make sure that effort pays off with views and downloads. It’s a no-brainer.
Twitter is different. It’s hard to express how, but it just is. Take Facebook, for example. Facebook ads hang out innocuously along the right column. Members can tune them out mentally if the promotions are irrelevant. It’s not like they clog up the newsfeed.
Promoted tweets, however, appear in the stream, as if they are part of the natural conversation. Actually, it’s even “worse.” They persist irritatingly at the top of the search column, like a pebble in the member’s shoe. It’s the social media equivalent of “interruptive marketing.” Is that the image you want for your brand?
Then the angel delivers the final blow: Didn’t someone tell you years ago that Warren Buffett didn’t invest in dot-com companies because he himself never clicked a banner ad? Well, have you ever clicked a promoted tweet? If you have, then go ahead and advertise. But if you haven’t, then your own behavior should be telling you something.
To this point, I’ve resisted the urge to advertise on Twitter. Maybe I am a purist, but I feel remarkable content will spread naturally, organically. But I am slowly beginning to change my mind. It’s my job as a marketer to make sure the right people engage with my brand’s content at the right time. My sense is that Twitter understands this need very deeply, and through sophisticated matching of a brand’s promoted content and a member’s activity, the company is making sure that for every person who feels the promoted tweet is a form of interruption, dozens will appreciate the relevance. When their service reaches that point, up will jump the devil.