Are Promoted Tweets Worth Your Buzz?

Even before Twitter activated “Promoted Tweets” this afternoon, I received emails asking about its implications for the golf industry. I’ve done some reading today and tried to answer the questions, knowing though that we’ll learn more about Twitter’s intentions and results in the coming weeks. I thought I’d share some of that here on my “social media” blog to help freshen the content (hopefully this will be a reoccurring thing).

If Promoted Tweets is something you are thinking about exploring in your next marketing budget, and your company isn’t called Starbucks or Virgin Atlantic, you might be ahead of yourself (and the game) at this point. Early on, Twitter promotion seems like Phase 2 step, executed after a successful and exhaustive Facebook campaign to build fans around your brand.

Currently the promoted tweets are only appearing in Twitter search results, on http://search.twitter.com. I have not actually come across a promoted (paid-for) tweet yet. But when doing my preliminary searches, I noticed that Twitter was promoting the top three most popular and retweeted (reposted) updates using my search term (in this case “promoted”). Once I refreshed the page to see the new results, the promoted tweets disappeared. Not sure if this will be the behavior going forward.

The “resonance score” that Twitter will use to determine the impact of promoted messages (and ultimately, the duration) is an interesting concept. Mashable and the NY Times compared to Digg.com’s model, which takes user feedback and interaction with ads to determine the price and longevity of their run.

Initially, there may be value to brands looking to get in front of a message or firestorm by ensuring their messaging is front in search results (similar to appearing on the top of Google results). However, the golf community on Twitter is relatively small and once messaging is passed through the key voices, it doesn’t have to go much further to be heard. (Example: I saw probably 10 tweets from golf writers about Lee Westwood wearing a red shirt Sunday at The Masters. Didn’t take long for everyone to know, before he appeared on the telecast)

I would say for now, efforts to building a fan community around your branded channel should be your priority for growing your audience or marketing to them. Those core fans are the ones who will be spreading your messages for you, especially around a new product launch or tournament time. In the rare case of an exclusive opportunity that extends beyond the golf realm, that may warrant another look into extending promotions onto Facebook and/or Twitter. For now, though, I don’t believe promotional tweets should be considered in your marketing budget next month. Let’s allow the big brands experiment and see some results before dedicating budget and resources to another shiny tool.

But understand that the social world moves quickly…and by the end of summer, I may be singing another tune.

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