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Promoted Tweets: Branding opportunity or invasive marketing?

25-July-2011
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Promoted Tweets: Branding opportunity or invasive marketing?

Microblogging site Twitter is now attempting to catch up with other social networks like Facebook to up its commercial value by allowing advertising on its platform. Promoted Trends and Promoted Accounts have already been around for quite some time. Now, Twitter has now come up with another platform for brands to advertise on Twitter, called Promoted Tweets.

As Twitter’s website reveals, “Promoted Tweets are a new form of advertising unique to Twitter that enable you to speak to users that don't currently follow your account. Promoted Tweets are regular Tweets that are amplified to a broader audience.”

They start as regular tweets to followers and can be ‘promoted’ after the tweets is sent out. This will make the tweet feature on the top of all searches on the site for the keywords in the tweet.

Offered on a Cost-per-Engagement (CPE) basis, the Promoted Tweets feature for businesses, is a less subtle way of advertising on the platform. Unlike Promoted Trends and Accounts, the Promoted Tweets, will be more likely to be noticed as they would rest at the top of the timeline as Twitter says, “They appear as content in search results, not alongside them.”

Leveraging the opportunity
Many media, entertainment, food and beverages brands have already established a strong presence on Twitter and used it as an effective engagement medium with their followers. How would this new feature be useful for brands in the social media marketing plans?

While some agency heads think it is a great opportunity, they also advise wise use of the tweets by brands to prevent them being taken as invasive marketing techniques.

Kanika Mathur, President, Digitas India, believes it to be a good tool to employ and said, “Promoted Tweets give brands access to another channel of reaching out to the social media audiences.”

Vineet Gupta, Managing Partner, 22feet Communications, said, “It is good to finally see a tool from Twitter to allow advertising opportunities. But it is too early to say which way it will go.”

A word of caution
“However promoted tweets should be used wisely by brands as endorsing a brand by retweeting is a much more personal interaction as opposed to simply 'Liking' a page. The consumers won't pass around the tweet if they are not convinced enough about the intentions of the brand”, she added.

It is also important for brands to effectively use the tweets to their advantage. As Gupta, said, “What is important to take into account is that how these tweets would be relevant to the brand category and how relevantly brands optimize their use. They can be used by say for restaurants to promote their new menu, or by companies to promote their new products. They can also be a good way to get feedback. But it all depends on how effectively they are used.”

Max Hegerman, President, Tribal DDB, points out that Twitter as a social network is a place which is fairly non-intrusive in their users activity, as it is used as a place where users communicate with friends and family. He said, “The introduction of these tweets might be construed invasive and as cluttering user’s timeline, which might lead to a backlash for Twitter. But they can be used by agencies strategically, by targeting users incredibly and appropriately, and making them specific.”

Not everyone sees it as a good initiative by Twitter as the best opportunity available for brands. Rajagopal Menon, Director, Games2win.com, said, “Twitter has been experimenting with Promoted Tweets (brands pay to have a their tweet show up at the top of search result pages), Promoted Trends and Promoted Accounts. As long as it stays off consumer's stream of tweets its bearable for the consumer - it is worth noting that when Twitter promoted brand messages in a bar at the top of the official Twitter iPhone app, it was derisively called the Dickbar by consumers.”

Vivek Bhargava, CEO, Communicate 2, does not believe it has much branding opportunity and said, “I don’t think it is the most effective move by Twitter. It has a few advantages that it would probably reach out to more audiences. But then it would come under interruption marketing, and in the number of tweets in the timeline, it can easily be missed as well. So I do not feel it has a branding potential. It looks as a desperate ploy by Twitter to monetize its activities.”

Menon also believes that this kind of intrusive marketing technique can cause backlash from the followers. He said, “I think consumers are going to react violently to this obtrusive messaging. In my opinion, brands should avoid this because the consumer backlash is going to be violent.”

“Interrupting consumer activity is fine in TV and newspapers because consumers have become habituated to it. In social media, there are better, more subtle and effective ways to engage with consumers rather than in the face obstructive advertising. Best examples of this in the Indian context are Hippo and Tata DoCoMo. These brands use the medium brilliantly by engaging with consumers AND performing the brand objective - be it marketing or CRM,” he added.

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