Social Media Marketing Consulting for Business

Should You Pay for Promoted Tweets, Accounts or Trends?

February 17th, 2014 2 Comments

In a phone call with a corporate client today, I once again found myself quoting from this excellent Forbes article: Domo CEO Josh James: Why I Pay For Twitter Followers.

As somebody who used to be against promoted tweets, this article changed my point of view.

In this blog, I summarize the 5 key take-aways from Josh’s article and provide additional insights on how to measure and create ROI from paid Twitter activities, plus give examples of what type of results you can expect.

So as not to plagiarise, I will point you directly to Josh James’ Forbes article here.

The 5 Key Take-Aways:

  1. Your number of Twitter followers DOES matter (to a degree)
  2. Geo-targeting promoted tweets and accounts pays off
  3. Sticking with a focus area pays, diverting too far from it doesn’t
  4. Recruiting will get easier, as great talent will approach you (as well as partners & prospects)
  5. You can leverage your Twitter “Klout” to do good

Josh writes: “I am a firm believer that if you are leading a company, you should be where your customers are. Everyone has customers on social networks and Twitter is one of the most interesting and easiest places to listen and engage.” Follow Josh at @joshjames.


So what are Twitter Promoted Accounts?

“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 people may enjoy.”

“Promoted accounts are displayed in multiple locations across the Twitter platform, including Who to Follow, Similar To, timeline and search results.”


While there are many blogs that describe how to advertise on Twitter, few predict the results you should expect. Even fewer reveal what investment ($$$) was made to reach the results. In the following, I quote three authors who have addressed this topic:

1. Sharmin Kent writes in her blog How To Get Promoted Tweets Results On A Budget:

“Data shows that Twitter and its participating brands have found success with Promoted Tweets. Companies like Virgin America, Hubspot and Rackspace are seeing incredible results from their campaigns. Marketing software company Hubspot saw a 150 percent increase in sales through Twitter, along with 46 percent lower cost-per-lead and 32 percent ROI.”

2. Phil Gross writes on Ad Exchanger in The Case For Twitter Investment: An ROI-Focused Attribution Approach:

“Twitter’s Ads Center allows users to manage and track the results of a particular Twitter campaign by showing the amount spent along with impressions and the engagement statistics it drove (e.g., clicks, re-tweets, replies, follows, and favorites).

The problem is: How is a return assigned to the investment? It’s easy to see the number and cost per engagement, but how can users identify the value those engagements have on their business? Unfortunately, Twitter is a “walled garden” with no direct way to know whether a particular consumer who purchases online was exposed to a Twitter campaign.”

But then Phil provides a path forward:

“Let’s say the baseline on Twitter is 1,000 followers. A user sets up a new Twitter campaign to promote its brand and garners an additional 500 followers at $3 each, totaling $1,500 in ad spend. If the user observes that conversion traffic from Twitter to its website went from 10 conversions per month to 22 conversions per month,the return for those 500 new followers is equal to the value of those 12 additional conversions. If each conversion nets $50, return on investment is $600 ($50 x 12).

However it’s important to recognize that this is not complete. If each new Twitter follower lasts 12 months (a conservative guess), then the return is much greater ($7,200).  Even at that, only a minimum attributable return is being estimated. While there’s some guesswork in this methodology, it’s easy to begin to see the size of the return being garnered– not to mention the other benefits of advertising via Twitter, including brand awareness, higher customer satisfaction and retention rate, and goodwill.”

3. Three Powerful Case Studies on How You Advertise on Twitter by Jeff Bullas

  1. Increase Awareness & Engagement with Promoted Tweets: “Airbnb achieved a 4+% engagement rate for their promoted tweet campaign.” “We can extend the life of a Tweet with Promoted Tweets in timelines, and because of that, we can extend the life of the product launch itself.”
  2. Reach New Customers with Promoted Accounts & Tweets: Hubspot promoted “Tweets (that) not only offered educational content relevant to marketers, but also included a specific call to action, such as an invitation to attend an informational webinar, download a marketing e-book or register for a free marketing assessment.”“Not only are we driving new business at a 46% lower cost per lead, but our lead conversion rate is also 48% higher on Twitter compared to other platforms.” – Dan Slagen Head of Paid Marketing at HubSpot.
  3. Launch a Product with Promoted Trends: LG used the promoted trend #LGTicketHunter to launch a new phone . A promoted trend let’s “Twitter users see time, context and event-sensitive trends at the top of the Trending Topics list on Twitter.” Results: “50,000 hashtag mentions, 20 million impressions, 5,000 tweets per hour, 12,000 engagements.”

If you still want more, read:

  • Clive Roach: Generating leads with Twitter (Twitter Cards)
  • Twitter Advertising Best Practices
  • A Slideshare deck on the topic from Hubspot

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2 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Natascha, what prompted the research? Are you doing Twitter advertising for a client?

    Great summary, thanks for publishing.


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