Are Twitter’s Promoted Products useful in local (and retail) promotions?

We have two distinct schools of thought under our roof at TPN. I am not sure if it is a gender or cultural divide (or simply a difference of opinion), but here are two perspectives coming from TPN: 

Manolo Almagro — Digital Shopper Marketing, Chicago, IL

Studies show that the majority of Twitter users who follow brands do so to get access to special offers and deals. Twitter’s Promoted Tweets product gives brands and advertisers a surgical tool to promote these offers.

Promoted Tweets add another dimension in monitoring the performance of a campaign. They are targeted, seeking out users who follow similar accounts, and geo-located, offering relevant deals to a local or regional audience. Plus they’re trackable, giving marketers better tools to analyze the success of a promotion.

The best part is the fee structure. Brands who use Promoted Tweets only pay when a user clicks on its link. If Tweets aren’t hitting the target, brands can reassess and try again.

I think this new tool provides a way for brands to have more targeted messaging and, thus, diminishes the “spamming” effect they may have had with non-targeted deals. 

Darci Ratliff — Senior Copywriter, New York, NY

I think what makes Twitter so attractive to its users is also what makes it difficult to monetize. With Promoted Trends and Tweets, Twitter is inviting brands to the cool kids’ table, then pulling the chair out from under them.

Take trends, for example. To see what people are talking about in real time, you look to Twitter trends. But their Promoted Trends are paid for (and marked as such), giving them zero credibility. It’s not a trend; it’s an ad. And unless brands get creative with a clever #hashtag, its unlikely anyone will notice.

Worse are Promoted Tweets which interrupt one’s feed. With over 400 million tweets per day, a user has to practice “selective listening” by choosing which other users to follow. Promoted Tweets break the rules in a way that can be both off-putting and pathetic. Unless the tweet is an exciting, attractive, and talk-worthy offer that really speaks to the user in a unique way, it can leave the impression that this brand “just doesn’t get it.”

What I think can be useful is their Promoted Accounts product, which helps users find a brand and keep it top of mind. A brand has to have followers for Twitter to be an effective promotional tool. And finding a brand on Twitter isn’t always easy—their search functionality is pretty terrible, and copycat accounts make it hard to know which one is the “official” voice of the brand.

Promoted Accounts is a pay-for-play product that tells targeted users that your brand is tweeting, and seems like a good way to build a following before launching a promotion or new product.

Both Manny and Darci make valid points; so how do you decide which is the right point of view for a particular brand, consumer or shopper?

As with any marketing tool, brands must be careful to use Twitter correctly or run the risk of alienating the people they are trying to win over.

Who’s doing it right?

It’s important for brands to know their audience, listen to the conversations, and take a poke or two in good stride. The Twitter-ers at Taco Bell, for example, have been generating positive reviews.

Who is missing the mark?

It pays to do your research. Online retailer CelebBoutique.comsuffered widespread Twitter backlash when it’s UK-based PR firm neglected to find out why #Aurora was trending a few weeks ago. They attributed it to a Kardashian design with the same name when, in fact, the talk centered on the tragic shooting in Colorado. Their lighthearted tweet solicited public outrage, even after its removal and subsequent apology.

What do you think?

Are Twitter’s new Promoted Products going to help brands succeed with better targeting, or is this a marketing shortcut that could turn people off? And what brands are you following? Whose tweets are getting your attention? 

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