Making a Twitter ad doesn’t look too difficult. Come up with 140 characters, add an image, and BAM! You’ve got yourself an ad.
But once you start to drill down into trying to make your ad really great, one that gets the likes and retweets it deserves, you start to realize the challenges:
- What’s the optimum tweet length?
- Should I include an image or not?
- A Lead Generation Card or not?
- And Should I try and get other brands to follow along?
Here we answer those questions. We wanted to see what makes for a truly successful Twitter ad, so we’ve analyzed 7,712 Twitter ads from the AdEspresso Twitter Ad gallery to look at the text and images that will get your ad read, liked and retweeted, and make people want to click through to learn more.
The Most Popular Twitter Ad Is Just Under 140 Characters
Twitter, at the moment, has a hard 140-character limit for all tweets. For both regular tweets and ads, you can’t go over this limit. Of course, this means that you have to choose wisely what is going to be said in these few words.
From our data sample, 30% of Twitter ads bumped right up to this 140 limit, with between 130-140 characters in the tweet message. These ads were trying to fit as much value into the small amount of text as possible. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.
For H&M Philippines, the text looks crowded, and the use of abbreviations makes it difficult to understand what this Twitter ad is telling you:
For Sprout Social, however, they use most of the allowed character space to fit as much information as possible about their product, but it remains understandable:
On the other end of the spectrum, 5% of Twitter ads used up less than 50 characters in the tweet body. Though this can be good to get a message across succinctly, it can end up looking sparse, such as this Twitter ad from Thistle:
Because you really have to fit a lot into a small space with Twitter, you have to choose your words carefully. The most common number of words within the Twitter ad text was 18. This corresponds to just 7 characters per word:
Choosing verbose words leads to less space for your message. Therefore using short, concise words allows you to fit more information into a smaller space.
The Most Popular Word: You
This is the same title we used for our Facebook Ads analysis. That’s because the most popular words for a Twitter ad were almost exactly the same for a Facebook ad:
Once again, the most powerful words in the English language were used the most in these Twitter ads:
- You/Your: These words invoke the power of the self and make the reader automatically think how the product will relate to them.
- Free: Free captures attention as it shows the product offers value at zero cost to the reader.
- Now: The immediacy of “now” induces our “fear of missing out” (FOMO) if we don’t act immediately.
- New: Novelty is an automatic trigger for the brain’s reward center.
What’s more, all these words are short and to the point. They take up few characters but are still incredibly powerful, meaning advertisers can use them to get the message across effectively.
When in use, these words jump out from the other text and draw our attention. In this example from Sweetspot, the use of “you” makes the reader ask themselves the question, and “free” sets up the answer as zero cost for them:
The same techniques are used by Papermine, who use“new” and “free” to suggest the product is both novel and zero cost. This reduces the friction that the audience will encounter when signing up, increasing the likelihood that they will try out the product:
Most Twitter Ads Keep It Positive
Using sentiment analysis, we looked at the emotional content of the Twitter ads to determine if they were trying to elicit certain feelings in their audience.
Sentiment analysis uses a database of highly-valenced words that are scored depending on whether they are perceived as positive or negative. For instance, the word “superb” has the highest positive score, +5, while the word “catastrophic” has a highly negative score, -4 (the most negative words, -5, aren’t for repeating here!).
Actually, most Twitter ads are neutral, either without any valenced words from the database (it only has about 2,000 words), or the Twitter ad has positive and negative words that cancel each other out. However, from those with a sentiment score, 86% were positive in sentiment. Most of these were only slightly positive, between +1 and +3 but some were far more positive.
This ad from the Hilary Clinton campaign was very positive, with a sentiment score of +8. The goal of this Twitter ad was to get people to sign up to an email list and the use of a competition meant that the ad was significantly positive:
Positive sentiment isn’t the only way to get an audience’s attention. Given that most Twitter ads are positive, a negative ad is likely to stand out. Here Mark Daoust uses negative language for a combined sentiment score of -7 to show what people are getting wrong, and make people sign up to learn how to correct their mistakes:
The Most Popular Number in Twitter Ads Is 5
Numbers can be a great way to convey information in a Twitter ad using only a few characters. Examples from our Twitter ad gallery used numbers to show:
- pricing information and savings (“$5 off our product!”)
- social proof (“20% of developers use our service”)
- lists (“7 things you didn’t know about Twitter ads”)
Twitter ads could obviously use any number they want (well any number under 10^140), but we found that most Twitter ads use small numbers convey meaning. The most popular number was 5, followed by 10, and all the numbers from 1-10 occurred frequently:
Using pricing as an example of how numbers might be used in a Twitter ad, we analyzed how many ads used a price ($ sign followed by a number) in their text:
Only 5% of ads used any pricing information in their ads. More Twitter ads could do this as adding pricing information to a tweet is a quick way to show your audience your value, and showing savings draws attention to the ad inducing the audience to click through.
Indochino did this well, showing their audience how much they can save on their product, demonstrating value and making them more likely to click through.
Use Just 1 Hashtag In Twitter Ads
Hashtags are a common way to spread a message on Twitter. Using a hashtag identifiable with your brand or one unique to your campaign makes it easier to track how your message is getting retweeted. Our analysis showed that 29.1% of Twitter ads used a hashtag:
From those, the majority, 71.6% used just 1 hashtag. This is really the optimum, as it allows you to track your campaign easily and frees up the rest of the tweet text for your message. Here ADP has used just one campaign-related hashtag keeping their message clear:
70.9% of Twitter ads were hashtag free, missing out on an opportunity to tie their tweet campaign together. However, this is probably preferable to too many hashtags, as in this HR Cloud example, which removes space for message, makes it difficult to target a specific audience, and ends up looking spammy:
Mentions Aren’t Popular In Twitter Ads
@-mentioning someone is a common part of the Twitter conversation. It immediately draws the attention of that person to your tweet, and if done properly, increases the likelihood of retweets and likes.
Twitter ads aren’t necessarily a good place for mentions. Unless it brings actual information to the person mentioned, it’s likely to be seen as spam and get your account blocked. This is probably one of the reasons that only 9.5% of Twitter ads analyzed contained a mention.
However, done right, a Twitter ad can mention another brand and co-opt them into spreading the message. Previous research shows that 47% of brands retweet tweets they are mentioned in, and this increases to 65% if it is a direction question.
There are 2 ways mentioning other brands can help your Twitter ad. First, mentions are good for co-marketing campaigns were you are actively working with another brand. The partner is more likely to see the Twitter ad if they are mentioned, and therefore, more likely to retweet it to their followers.
Adobe Document Cloud do that here with Workday, mentioning them in the tweet and getting more reach:
If you aren’t partnering with another brand, you can still use mentions to align your brand image with theirs. Here Udemy wants to show that through their courses you could build the next Uber or Twitter. By adding their Twitter handles instead of just the text to tweet, these stand out more and captures their audiences attention:
Almost All Twitter Ads Use An Image
Though Twitter started out as entirely text-based, it is becoming more and more visual. This is especially true of Twitter ads which can get lost in your audience’s timeline if you don’t have an image that makes it pop.
Twitter advertisers know this, as only 10.1% of Twitter ads were without any image at all. Therefore, 89.9% of all the Twitter ads had some image attached, either as an embedded image or as part of a Twitter card:
- 40.9% had an embedded image.
- 49% used a Twitter Card as the image.
Twitter ads without an image are good for quick pieces of information for your direct audience. Here, sovrn Holdings Inc. tweet just to their followers and anyone following the #isquared2015 hashtag (the #spotify hashtag is probably too broad to catch that many likes or retweets). It is a specific piece of information not meant for the wider audience:
Contrast this with New Relic, you use a great image showing the Docker and New Relic images which got far more retweets and likes:
Finally, using a card has certain bonuses that you can’t get from a regular tweet as a Twitter ad. Using Lead Generation Cards you can get email addresses from your audience without them having to leave Twitter or you can include links in the card description as Dropbox have done here:
Most Ads Link To A Landing Page
The ultimate idea of a Twitter ad is to get your audience to click through to learn about your product. All of the Twitter ads analyzed had some link, either directly in the text, or an external page was linked via the image or Card.
Of these links 22.4% linked to the homepage of the brand advertised, whereas 77.6% linked directly to a landing page specific to the Twitter ad or product.
Having a specific landing page allows you to capture information about your audience members, such as name, email, and company.
Download The eBook To Find Out More!
Like Facebook advertisers, Twitter advertisers are hitting the right tones with their ads. They are using up the available text space, but still keeping the language punchy with short, concise words. Some could use more hashtags and mentions, but most are using images well, either in a card or in the tweet itself.
Most importantly, Twitter advertisers are taking advantage of specific landing pages for their links. Though not always obvious from the tweet itself, this makes it easier to offer value to the audience and capture important marketing information.
When analyzing Facebook ads we left it here. This time, we went a step further. We looked at how each of these categories—text, images, links, hashtags—correlated to the number of retweets and likes the Twitter ad received.
In the eBook you will find out whether you should include an image or not, go positive or negative, and what exactly makes a well-crafted Twitter ad get the attention it deserves. Download it here!