Social Marketing With Twitter Website Cards

Marketing on Twitter is simple. You craft a Tweet of less than 160 characters that includes your enticing message and a compelling call to action (“Visit our site,” “Retweet this,” “Follow me,” etc.) then click “Send” and hope for results. It takes little time and costs nothing. It works, to some degree. But for a few advertising budget dollars, Twitter will help it work even better. Here’s the scoop…

Advertising with Twitter Website Cards

Basic Tweeting directly reaches only your followers. A plain old text Tweet may go unremarked amidst the torrent of Tweets in a follower’s timeline. “Sponsored” Tweets, better known as paid ads, are shown to people who don’t follow you and get more responses… 43% more, if you accept Twitter’s internal research figures.

The image below shows the anatomy of a “Website Card,” Twitter’s term for a paid ad that has the objective of driving traffic to a specific page on your Website. Other objectives available include getting followers, encouraging retweets, etc., but the general format is the same.

Twitter Website Card

The elements of a Website Card include a Tweet, an image, a URL to your site and a brief description of what’s on that page, and a call to action (Visit now, Buy now, etc.) Note the discreet “Promoted by…” notice at the bottom left corner, informing viewers this is a paid ad.

The URL may lead to your site’s home page or any page on the site, such as a product page with an “Add to Cart” button. The actual URL does not appear in the Card displayed to viewers; only the action button shows up.

What makes it 43% more likely that a viewer will click on a Card’s action button than on a raw URL? As I and many other pundits have warned readers incessantly, it’s dangerous to click on an unknown or untrusted URL; you have no idea where it’s going to lead you or what malware might lurk there. People are especially leery of cryptic shortened URLs that provide no information about where they might lead. But a Website Card is reassuringly informative.

What the viewer sees is presumed to be a preview of the Website page that he’s being asked to visit. The “Promoted by…” notice provides Twitter’s implied assurance that the Tweet is legit; phishers don’t pay for their bait, right? Viewers are more likely to click because they have at least the illusion of safety.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter charges only for actions taken, not for mere exposure. With a Website Card, you pay only for clicks that take viewers to the page specified. Of course, the cost per action is higher than the cost of mere exposure to temptation. But you can set daily limits on how many dollars you wish to spend, and an overall limit on each Website Card’s budget.

Like Facebook, Twitter uses an automatic auction system to price ads. But you don’t have to pay your highest bid; Twitter’s system ensures that you pay no more than a penny more than the second-highest bidder. It’s rather like eBay in this respect.

You don’t want just anyone to click on that action button. Twitter provides numerous ways to target prospects by location, language spoken, age, gender, interests, etc. You can also add keywords to a campaign that trigger exposure to your Website Card based on the occurrence of keywords in a prospect’s Tweets. You can even target specific Twitter accounts if you know their usernames.

An analytics dashboard helps you measure the performance of a Card campaign precisely, and tweak a Card’s specs to improve results.

Facebook claims over 1.5 billion accounts that are active (used at least monthly), while Twitter claims about 260 million. But the difference in total potential audiences shrinks dramatically when we look at “unique users” instead of accounts. Facebook seems to have about 363 million unique users vs. Twitter’s 130 million or so.

Twitter users tend to be better educated and affluent than Facebook users, according to most research. Busy, productive people seem to prefer short, pertinent Tweets over long posts about cats and such.

Twitter users who are marketers of apps and products of interest to IT pros report good success with Website Cards, for instance. Will it work for your business? There’s only one way to find out.

The wealth of options available in constructing a Twitter ad campaign can seem overwhelming to new advertisers. But after a while, things begin to make sense and the power of Twitter’s targeting tools can be put to good use.

You can learn more about Twitter Website Cards and get started on building a campaign here.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…

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