Twitter is making some big changes which could potentially increase activity and change what brands can post and when. Are you getting ready for the new Twitter Ads era?
And we’re not just talking cool new features being updated or added on; we’re talking about major changes that drastically affect how we can use the platform, let alone best practices.
This likely won’t be shocking to a lot of people; a lot of social media platforms have recently been reassessing what they can offer users and marketers alike, and the Facebook scandals last year have left everyone wondering what’s next.
Facebook, unsurprisingly, has made huge changes to the platform, and we’ve even seen LinkedIn finding new ways to rework old features like groups to make them more valuable to their audience.
Twitter’s changes might just be the most drastic, and since brands can be penalized if they miss those changes, we want to get you up to speed.
If you first want to know everything about all the changes happening on Twitter, just keep on reading.
Here’s our table of content:
- You Can’t Publish the Same Tweet to Multiple Accounts
- You Can’t Recycle the Same Tweets
- Third Party Follow-for-Follow Software Is Banned
- New Features: The Breakdown
The Twitter Changes of 2019
If you stay up to date with social media news in general, you’ll likely have noticed that there have been a lot of reports coming out about new Twitter rules and regulations, and that the platform is cracking down on them.
Twitter, like Facebook and Instagram, is ambitiously trying to find new ways to create authentic engagement on the platform.
Social media can turn into a void, where everyone is more focused on promoting their content than interacting with everyone else’s, and I feel like that’s been particularly true of Twitter in recent years.
They want to put a stop to it.
Some of the changes we’ll discuss were announced late last year, but since they’re significant, we’ll include them here.
Let’s take a look at what’s changed and what it means for you.
Some of the first news that came our way indicating that things were changing let us know that Twitter was really cracking down on the automation of mass tweeting.
They created new guidelines stating that users and marketers couldn’t schedule the same tweets across multiple accounts (which is a feature often offered through third-party social management software to streamline the process).
Instead, you need to create unique tweets for each account, and they need to be scheduled separately.
Note that the rule applies to “substantially similar tweets,” so don’t just switch up a word or hashtag or two and hope that’s enough; approach it like you would a college paper being run through a platform looking for cheating.
Twitter and its users are sick of brands trying to cheat the system by spamming the same content, again and again, hoping to see what sticks. Instead, the goal here is to create unique content every time, contributing to the Twitterverse instead of just adding to the white noise.
Want to share the same great content? Stick for retweeting. This still lets you use multiple accounts to spread the message, but in a non-spammy and Twitter-approved way.
Just as Twitter doesn’t want you publishing the same tweet across multiple accounts, they also laid down a ruling stating that you shouldn’t be scheduling the same tweet to go live multiple times to a single account.
Again, this is about creating value and improving user experience.
Here’s the good news though: Twitter gave us a white-hat way around this earlier this year, and now we can retweet content from our own account (which you can see I did in the example above from one of my own tweets). This gives it a boost, doesn’t break any rules, and can help you keep great content alive.
A few weeks ago, Twitter announced that it was suspending all third-party follow-unfollow software, which tries to rapidly inflate an account’s follower status by following someone, waiting until they follow you back, and then unfollowing them.
This wasn’t overwhelmingly shocking, because the software already went against the platform’s terms of service, but now they’re getting serious about it.
At the point of the announcement, they had already shut down 3 services: ManageFlitter, Statusbrew, and Crowdfire.
This sort of software rubs users the wrong way, even if the software doesn’t actually even unfollow anyone. It’s also nontransparent, and it pretty much goes against the authenticity the platform is prioritizing.
Getting new Twitter followers does require work, but there are plenty of free strategies you can use to accomplish this goal without violating any terms of service.
Twitter hasn’t just been laying down the law; they’ve also been adding new features and running tests to find ways that they can help users have more meaningful experiences on the platform. And of course, staying competitive with other social platforms probably crossed their mind, too.
Here are a few of the new features we have or that are rolling out soon:
Which allow users to share more visual information and get more attention in the feeds. This is coming alongside the announcement that they’re removing support for Tweet Grids. Visual content is getting more attention on Twitter (and more engagement), so this makes sense.
Similar to what we have for Instagram and Snapchat. Users will be able to share live and recorded content in new ways through the native app, and you can add in stickers, hashtags, and more through text overlay. The Stories features are so popular on other platforms, it’s no surprise Twitter wants their own version. They’re currently available in the public beta version of the app.
Which allows you to follow events instead of just other users. The idea is to keep users engaged and up to date with the events they love, in addition to the people they’re interested in hearing from, adding a new layer of information sharing to users.
Indented conversation threads
Which take on the format of Instagram and Facebook’s conversational threads. Replies go underneath the comment they’re addressing, instead of the currently almost-impossible-to-follow format. This will facilitate more conversation just by making it all easier to follow.
What These Twitter Changes Mean
It’s clear that Twitter is recalibrating their platform, but that they’re doing so carefully.
They’re not just throwing new features out because they can; they’ve even gone on record to say that they’re not sure if they’ll ever release the option to edit tweets, because it can cause a lack of transparency, which can get out of hand when the retweets are flooding in.
Instead, they’re specifically making changes to reduce some of the noise, generate real interaction, and hopefully drastically improve the user experience.
Brands need to take notice if they’re marketing on Twitter, which has been the one platform that I feel like brands have been able to get away with breaking the rules for a while.
Facebook, Instagram, and even Google’s algorithms were typically much faster at shutting down anything not above-the-board.
It’s always better, however, if you’re focusing on creating great content and trying to generate meaningful experiences for your followers; that will always get you better and more permanent results than any of the latest supposed magic get-followers-fast hacks.
And now let’s dig in the fantastic world of Twitter Ads! Are you ready?
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google…With all these cool kids on the block, Twitter might seem like an advertising channel that has long lost its value. But that’s not entirely true.
Twitter advertising is still a powerhouse of a social media platform, and there’s a lot to be gained from it.
Many brands are still seeing a great deal of value in Twitter advertising, and as more brands flock to other channels and abandoned Twitter, the lower the competition will be.
Moreover, the social media network has 328 million global monthly active users, (though they do admittedly have a declining active user base in the U.S.), and more than 67% of those users are likely to purchase from a brand they follow on Twitter.
Don’t give up on Twitter just yet, because with these 2018 updates they could be gearing for a comeback.
In this post, you’ll learn how to create high-performing Twitter Ads and get some inspiration from strong campaigns that have been run in the past.
Twitter Advertising Examples That Prove You Can Get Results
If you ran a Twitter advertising campaign a few years ago and gave up because of poor results, now might be a good time to reconsider.
Or at least create a small campaign to give Twitter ads another chance.
In fact, several brands have hit incredible success with Twitter Ads in the past.
Let’s take a look at these high-performing campaigns and what turned them into such huge successes.
Twitter Ad Campaign Example #1: Coca-Cola
Every year, Coca-Cola delights their fans with a #HolidaysAreComing campaign, its iconic ads featuring the festive Coke truck (that, by the way, first debuted 21 years ago).
In 2016, the UK branch of Coca-Cola (@CocaCola_GB) ran a holiday Twitter campaign that would help its fans keep up with the launch of the ad on TV.
To do that, Coca-Cola created GIFs that they shared and promoted via Twitter ads.
What’s even more awesome, is that this year, Coca-Cola created custom emoji. Every time someone tweeted the campaign hashtag, a visual of the truck would appear in the tweet.
Key takeaways and hacks:
- Create engaging campaigns – When creating a Twitter ad campaign, make all your ads highly engaging and invite your fans to share and participate in your campaign.
- Create high-quality visuals – Use GIFs and memorable visuals to make your Twitter ads share-worthy.
- Use contrasting colors – A study by UsabilityTools showed that highly contrasting call-to-actions had a 75% higher click-through rate compared to low-contrast CTAs. The same rule applies to your ad images.
- Make your ads fun – Coca-Cola chose to use engaging ads rather than overly salesy messages.
- Combine organic and paid reach – Start by sharing some Twitter posts organically and as some posts get more engagement than others, use these for paid promotion.
Twitter Ad Campaign Example #2: The New York Times
The New York Times is using Twitter ads to promote limited-time offers and get more new subscribers.
Their Twitter campaigns are simple and straightforward, making the message easy to spot in the crowded Twitter feed.
Unlike the Coca-Cola ad campaign, The New York Times has not created their Facebook ads around a single big event. Rather, they’re using Twitter as a continuous advertising channel.
Occasionally, The New York Times also uses the relevant events to add a touch of timeliness to their Twitter ads. For example, like in the example below, featuring the French elections and French Opens.
Key takeaways and hacks:
- Use Twitter regularly – You don’t necessarily have to create a limited-time Twitter campaign. You can also advertise on the platform on a regular basis.
- Offer discounts – Offer people a good incentive to nudge them towards clicking on the ad and converting.
- Make limited-time offers – Applying scarcity and urgency on a website helped an entrepreneur increase sales by 332%. You could use the same strategy to increase your Twitter ads’ CTR and conversion rate.
- Add your offer in the ad image – This way, your value proposition is highly visible and more people could convert on your offer.
- A/B test different ad elements – Set up a Twitter A/B testing campaign where you experiment with different ad visuals/audiences/copy to constantly improve your results.
Twitter Ad Campaign Example #3: Hootsuite
Twitter advertising isn’t only for businesses selling to consumers. Many B2B companies are using Twitter ads and seeing success.
For example, Hootsuite’s promoting free eBooks and webinars to their target audience – digital marketers.
Notice that Hootsuite’s not promoting a Twitter ad that would ask people to sign up.
Instead, they’re offering high-value content and building brand awareness.
If you’re not seeing any results when running direct selling campaigns on Twitter, you may want to try this soft selling strategy instead.
Key takeaways and hacks:
- Twitter ads can be used both by B2B and B2C brands – It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling customer- or enterprise-focused products. Twitter ads can be a good solution either way.
- Don’t try to sell right away – When advertising to people that haven’t been to your website before, start with a soft sell and share high-quality content, instead of asking them to make a purchase immediately.
- Promote high-quality content – Use Twitter ads to promote eBooks and webinars and get new leads to your sales funnel by asking for people’s email addresses in exchange.
- Keep it simple – Twitter has a 140-character limit, and that’s for a good reason – people want to consume the content and messages fast. Try not to include more than one key message per one Twitter ad.
- Set up remarketing campaigns – Keep nurturing your leads by creating a Twitter remarketing audience and promoting your branded content to past website visitors.
Types of Twitter Ad Campaigns
There are currently two options you can choose from when you go to create a Twitter Ad in terms of what you want to do. These options are to automatically promote your tweets and to create a conventional ad campaign.
Automatic promoted tweets is a new system that will automatically take the first ten tweets you post per day and promote them, placing them in users’ feeds. This excludes retweets and replies, and all tweets must pass Twitter’s quality inspection before they’re promoted.
For enormous businesses who want to run campaigns quickly and on an automated basis to build brand awareness and expand reach, this is one potential option.
Personally, I’d almost always choose the second, which is to manually create Twitter Ad campaigns.
You can still use past tweets, but you get to choose exactly which ones you want to be promoting. Your ad campaigns come with a wide variety of objectives, too, like the ability to increase site clicks, get more followers, or encourage app downloads.
Where Will My Ads Appear?
Two different factors will determine where your ads appear: what objective you select, and then which placements you choose.
Not all objectives offer every placement, but you can choose to select or deselect any of the placements each objective gives you.
The full list of potential placements include:
- In searches
- On your profile and tweet detail pages
- In users’ feeds
- The Twitter Audience Platform
What Are Promoted Tweets?
According to a 2015 report by Kinetic Social, 88% of Twitter’s ad revenue came from Promoted Tweets. However, it’s 2018 now and the numbers are becoming more skewed in favour of Video Ads.
Here’s what a Promoted Tweet campaign looks like when using an existing tweet:
You can also create new Twitter cards that will look slightly different from the promoted tweets. While the first example had the main text on top of the image, the Twitter cards have the headline below your ad image.
To create a Twitter card, simply enter the image, headline, website URL, and card name in the New Card creation box.
When using promoted tweets rather than Twitter cards, you can first gather the organic likes and shares and only then promote your tweet. This way, your promoted tweet will have additional social proof from the minute it’s published as a paid tweet.
How to Create your Twitter Ads
If you haven’t used Twitter as an advertising platform for a while, then you may be surprised when you log in. It’s undergone some big changes over the years, so it will likely look a little different than how you remember.
To get started, you can access Twitter’s Ad platform here.
First, you’ll be asked if you want to promote existing tweets (which works a lot like Boosted Posts on Facebook and Instagram) or create separate ads.
For this example, we’re going to create actual, separate ads that seek to send users to take action off-site, as opposed to boosting engagement on a specific post.
Step 1: Setting Objective and Budget
You’ll then be taken to another site, where you can choose from the following objectives:
Choose the objective that’s best suited to your specific campaign goals (and remember to focus on only one goal and desired action for each individual campaign, or you’ll confuse users).
Note that what you’re optimizing for will affect what you pay for; website clicks or conversions, for example, charges you every time someone clicks. Select your objective by clicking on it, and you’ll be taken to the next screen.
Here, you’ll name your campaign, set a daily and/or total budget, and schedule your campaign.
You’ll also be given additional information on the objective you’ve chosen.
Once you enter all this information, click the blue Next button in the top right-hand corner.
Step 2: Creating an Ad Group
Next, you’ll create your Ad Group.
This makes it easier to split test different campaigns, and even divide up your total campaign budget into different ad groups as you see fit.
You can set different start and end times for the campaigns as well.
Here, you’ll also choose your bid type (automatic is the best bet for most businesses, as it’s optimized to get more results at a low price instead of manual, which can cost you placements), and your key conversion metrics.
Step 3: Create your Twitter ads
Next is the creative section (though targeting used to come first).
You’ll be asked to select past tweet, or to Create a new one, and to select display creatives.
In many cases, when you’re creating a new ad and not promoting a tweet, it will be the better option to create a new tweet.
Because it can be difficult to spot, it’s highlighted in the screenshot here:
If you want to create Tweets that won’t show up until the promotion begins, you have that option by clicking the Promoted Only checkbox in the Create a Tweet tool.
During this step, you should also add appropriately sized images and Twitter Cards to your Tweet.
Note that some objectives– including clicks to a website– must have Twitter Cards attached.
It’s a good best practice to have, anyways, since Twitter Cards help your add stand out and give you a lot more room to share information with the user that will get them to click.
You can create and manage Twitter Cards in your Card Library, and they can be used to inspire site clicks, add videos or images to the tweet, or feature app videos.
At this stage, you’ll also have to make final decisions on where your tweets will appear for this Ad Group.
You can choose whether you want them to appear on profiles, in searches, and/or the Twitter Audience Platform.
If you have searches selected, you’ll be asked to categorize your Tweet so Twitter knows what searches to have it appear in.
You’ll also need to enter the domain name for the business who is running the ad.
After you’ve selected your Display Creatives, you’ll move on to the targeting section.
How to Target you Twitter Ads
Because targeting is so important and complex, we figured it should get its own mini-section.
When setting up a Twitter ad campaign, you can create a target audience based on these targeting options:
- Devices, Platforms, and Carriers
- Keywords, which works like Google’s keywords and allows you to show up in specific searches
- Followed Accounts, so you can reach users who follow certain accounts similar or complementary to yours
(this can be particularly effective if you’re featuring that add in your account)
- Interests, which can include people interested in job searching, bowling, and cooking
- TV market, which includes people who have watched certain TV shows or movies, which again can be used to create niche ads
- Behaviors, which can include everything from Charmin buyers to home gardeners.
You can get pretty granular at targeting niche audiences on Twitter. They’ve majorly stepped up their game to compete with Facebook’s exceptional targeting system.
We’ll also look a bit more at Tailored Audiences in the next section, but after that, once you’ve selected your targeting and reviewed your ad, you’re good to go.
Twitter Tailored Audiences
To keep up with Google’s remarketing audiences and Facebook’s Custom Audiences, Twitter has added the Tailored Audiences targeting option. This allows advertisers to reach the existing customers or past website visitors and deliver them highly relevant ads.
If you want to target past website visitors, you also need to install Twitter’s tracking pixel on your website.
Twitter lets you track several different conversion events:
Twitter retargeting best practices:
- Remarket website visitors – Create landing page-specific Twitter ads to turn your landing page visitors into customers.
- Exclude past converters – Don’t forget to exclude the people that have already converted on your offer.
- Use remarketing for lead nurturing – Promote engaging content to increase brand awareness and make people trust your brand even further.
- Target your email subscribers – Upload the lists of existing email subscribers to target them with relevant offers.
- Deselect “Expand reach by targeting similar users” – This way, you’ll only be targeting the people who have actually been to your website.
Twitter Video Ads
According to data by Twitter, the majority of Twitter users (82%) watch video content on Twitter and 90% of them watch it on their mobile devices.
Which leads us to another Twitter advertising rule: When creating Twitter Video Ads, make sure your videos are optimized for Mobile views.
To set up a Twitter Video Ads campaign, select the Promoted Video Views campaign objective.
You can upload new videos to Twitter Cards under Creatives > Media.
You’ll also be able to insert a headline, call-to-action, and URL to your ad.
Your videos will auto-play on scroll, encouraging people to tap or click.
Here’s how a Twitter Video Ad will look like on Desktop:
When trying to upload the GIF to my Twitter ad, I was first confused why it didn’t appear in my media library. That’s because Twitter doesn’t support GIF files. (Use a free GIF-MP4 converter to upload GIFs as MP4s to your Twitter ads)
Twitter Video Ads specs:
- File Type: MP4 or MOV
- Max Play Time: 2 minutes and 20 seconds (select accounts get 10-minute access)
- File Size: Under 1GB recommended
- Video Codec: H264, baseline, Main or High profile with 4:2:0 color space
Sure, Twitter advertising in 2018 isn’t as glamorous or popular as Facebook or Instagram Ads, but that doesn’t mean that you should count it out.
It still offers value, and when used as part of a diversified marketing strategy, it can help you to connect with new members of your target audience on an entirely different platform.
Twitter is working hard on improving its entire platform– both organic and PPC– so stay tuned to the AdEspresso blog, because you know we’ll fill you in as soon as there are changes for both.
What do you think? Do you do any marketing or advertising on Twitter? Do you still use Twitter Advertising in 2018 regularly? What strategies and best practices do you use? Let us know in the comments below!