Social networking site Twitter has been running promoted tweets for a while now. These are very similar to the format of Google’s sponsored links on their search results pages in that advertisers pay for places among the scarce available space. Twitter’s platform produces results, but the site decided to step things up a notch via keyword targeting.
Internet marketers are already familiar with the benefits of running highly targeted ads as opposed to random content. After all, it makes a lot more sense to show people ads for products and services that they’ve already expressed an interest in. Twitters new platform combs users’ tweets in search of specific keywords, and then use that information to incorporate tailored tweets onto the timelines on their profile pages. The paid tweets are easily recognizable because they are clearly marked so as to avoid confusion.
The powers that be are taking a cautious approach; only those accessing the site through its third party partner, HootSuite, will be participating in this experiment. The company promises not to unleash the service on everyone unless the test subjects express their approval. The frequency of ad placement will vary by user as well. In other words, people who don’t post about trending topics won’t get bombarded with Justin Bieber tweets simply for discussing music in general.
Kudos to Twitter for exploring marketing opportunities while keeping users actively involved in the process. Perhaps the Twitter team learned from the mistakes of its chief competitor, Facebook. Social media is supposed to foster community interaction, so their business models should reflect this principle. Introducing ads into this type of environment is always tricky, but people should appreciate Twitter’s focus on usability. Still, Twitter’s aiming this service directly at the big guys, such as Starbucks, Red Bull, and Best Buy. No one knows exactly how much the streamline tweets cost, although rumors indicate that they’re around $100,000 apiece. Since Twitter sees itself as a mobile platform, developing an affordable, local alternative for small businesses would be the next logical step.