Twitter is expected to announce its advertising model today. The site will begin running ads known as “Promoted Tweets” in Twitter searches for keywords. Eventually, the ads may also appear in users’ Twitter streams. These ads will be labeled as such, but unlike regular tweets, they will not move down a user’s feed over time. The company says it will measure user engagement to try to make sure the ads are relevant to the users.
That’s all well and good — I hope Twitter is able to use the model to support the network we’ve all come to know and love. The question is: Will these “Promoted Tweets” prove to be a worthwhile investment for advertisers?
I’m not privy to what the network plans to charge for these ads — but I think it’s a safe assumption that the total cost in money and time of running an ad on Twitter will be greater than the cost of just having a Twitter account and using it to promote your brand. And I suspect that having a static ad — the Twitter equivalent of a banner ad — may not be as effective as some companies may hope. I think it’s harder to get a consumer to engage and connect with a paid advertisement. Will people respond to these ads? Will they want to connect with the company to learn more? Will they re-tweet the ads?
I’m not saying there’s no way that Twitter ads can ever have a positive ROI. But I am skeptical. I worry that companies will look at these ads as social-media billboards, instead of additional opportunities to engage. I suspect the companies that fare best under the new system will be the ones that best understand how to use social tools to reach out to the fans.
What do you think of Twitter’s advertising system? Will “Promoted Tweets” prove to be a better investment for businesses than the Twitter tactics we’ve seen to date? Does using paid media hurt a company’s ability to generate earned media?
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