Promoted Tweets: Do You Read Them? Do You Care?

Well, you knew it was going to happen eventually. Twitter has gone and created Promoted Tweets – you pay them and then your message gets sent out en mass.

According to Biz Stone on Twitter’s official blog:

“Over the years, we’ve resisted introducing a traditional Web advertising model because we wanted to optimize for value before profit. The open exchange of information creates opportunities for individuals, organizations, and businesses alike. We recognized value in this exchange and planned to amplify it in a meaningful and relevant manner.”

He calls Promoted Tweets “a simple service,” and states that “It’s non-traditional, it’s easy, and it makes a ton of sense for Twitter.”

That doesn’t tell you too much. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

Businesses and organizations (Best Buy, Starbucks, etc.) and celebs (@KimKardashian, @JoseCanseco) are using them to send out a message to a group of users wider than their twitter pack. These tweets are promoted by Twitter’s partner advertisers and will appear at the top of your or social media dashboard feed. Only one with be displayed at a time.


They are clearly labeled as “promoted” so you know when a company has paid for the message. Biz Stone says “but in every other respect they will first exist as regular tweets and will be organically sent to the timelines of those who follow a brand.” Which means that they aren’t ads but just messages that the company is naturally tweeting about any way and then Twitter sends them out when they think they’ll garner the most engagement.

Promoted Tweets will “also retain all the functionality of a regular tweet including replying, retweeting, and favouriting,” so you can respond to it as you would any other tweet. Similar to Google Ads, you’ll see them but you don’t have to click on them. And if a message is not working (no one’s interacting with it, it’s not being favourited or retweeted, etc.), it will not reappear. And like Google AdWords, the companies will pay for cost-per-click  – when someone engages with it.

It seems like so far Twitter’s got a good idea in that it helps businesses move their message out to a larger audience, and they are doing a good job of keeping them relevant, but are you reading and/or responding to them?

Like anything that’s online that I’m not looking for, I tend to try and ignore it. It’s hard enough to keep up with my inbox and twitter feed as it is. However, it’s impossible not to see the promoted tweets as they’re right there at the top of my feed. I notice a lot of @Starbucks ones, which I could care less about and I think there have been a couple of @BestBuy ones that have come and gone. A week ago I would have said that they aren’t for me. But yesterday I got one from @HBO and since I follow them, I didn’t mind a bit.

Hmm, they might just be onto something here.