The Four Ways to Build Resonance with Twitter’s Promoted Tweets

Today Twitter announced their advertising platform, called Promoted Tweets. Twitter’s focus on message resonance is a large step forward in content marketing because it uses algorithms to determine valuable content within advertising units. This convergence of paid and earned media tactics raises the importance of effective content marketing strategies for digital marketers.

The Overview

Years of speculation about a business model for Twitter came to an end today, as they announced a new type of ad unit: the Promoted Tweet (I’ll call these PTs). The first iteration of PTs will be a single sponsored tweet at the top of the search results on Twitter Search, sold on a CPM basis.

After some testing and learning, Twitter will shift the purchase model from CPM to a new model, based on resonance. Resonance will be composed of many different variables . More details on the platform specifics are available from Jeremiah Owyang, The New York Times, and predictions of a $100M marketplace by the end of this year from Josh Bernoff in AdAge.

“Resonance” Emerges As Crucial Factor for Success

Twitter will be evaluating the quality of interactions using resonance as an objective criteria. Resonance will take into account the pass-along and click-through rates, and also will consider reach by looking at exposure based on how many Followers a user that retweets has.

Using the concept of resonance pushes advertising strategies on Twitter further toward traditional PR activity, and less toward traditional marketing campaign activity. The advertising content must have a higher impact for the user to continue to be shown. This is sort of similar to AdWords’ Quality Score. Quality Score takes into account the quality of the ad based on its performance, and allows advertisers to reach the same position with a lower CPC bid.

But, PTs takes the concept much further than paid search, because it requires more earned authority. Within AdWords, there is no way for the user to vote up/Like/Retweet an ad they see. Sure, they can avoid clicking on an ad, but that doesn’t really tell Google very much about the effectiveness of the ad. In fact, it’s likely that PTs will have to earn the majority of their visibility – there will be no way to buy your way into an ad without relevant content.

This diagram outlines where Promoted Tweets fall, compared to other paid and earned marketing tactics:

Continuum of Paid and Earned Marketing Tactics

This will be a more efficient platform for marketers than paid search, because it will be able to show analytics about resonance on a granular level.  And offering the metrics behind resonance will allow marketers to test, learn, and adjust more quickly. Marketers have long found that just having a campaign running in search improves trafffic to the URL (PDF link), whether ads are clicked on or not. But now we will be able to assign attribution.

Prepare to Speed Up Your Marketing

Retweets will be a core component of determining resonance. Retweets are also a core component of the Twitter experience. As such, retweeting is the ultimate form of content endorsement on Twitter. Therefore, getting a user to retweet an ad is the ultimate win for the brand – that’s the highest level of endorsement a brand advocate can offer on Twitter.

The good news is that we already know what users retweet, so we know what will make for effective advertising. Retweets focus on news and information sharing; in order to stay relevant, and in the sole, coveted marketing spot, PTs will have to move along with the news cycle in order to stay relevant.

The example that is shown all over (because it’s the only example that exists right now) is this Starbucks tweet:

Of course, this tweet will only be relevant through 4/15, after which time it will become completely useless information, and fall off the resonance radar immediately. This means that you will have to act quickly and have a vast supply of content to feed into the stream to keep your brand appearing on this platform. If you have ever written a hit blog post, you know how fast resonance can wax and wane. Traffic might spike like crazy for 1-2 days, then level back to pre-hit levels within 1-4 weeks. That’s not much time to celebrate your success.

The Four Ways To Build Resonance

Marketers will be compelled to create messages that have resonance in order to compete. This has huge implications from a campaign planning and management standpoint. Start planning your campaigns now to take advantage of the four effective ways to build resonance:

  1. Promoting a contest, sale or promotion: This is obvious, and works best for CPG and Retail. Promotions are inherently time-sensitive, therefore have immediacy that Twitter can use. This is what Starbucks has done in our example.
  2. News surfing: Creating linkages between your brand and relevant news information will be an effective way to maintain resonance. You must have your target streams identified, and commit ongoing resources to an activity like this; it is tough to dip in and out as campaigns start and stop with this strategy.
  3. Getting people to Follow or Fan you: Moving a prospect through a consideration funnel to engage with them on an ongoing basis will be an effective way to continue the brand promise. But, you must provide value on an ongoing basis for this strategy to be effective.
  4. Curating content: Sharing informative, relevance and important content (that both you and others develop) will be the most reliable and effective, yet the most difficult, way to build resonance. Providing guidance to important content (guides, analysis, expert commentary, or highly entertaining fare within your niche) will be easy to promote, but difficult to produce consistently.

Of these, only one provides a tangible way to move forward: getting people to Follow or Fan you. This is the only reasonable CTA you can hope to achieve from PTs. Your content will not be any different between PTs and your regular Twitter stream. The only difference is in message exposure to a new audience.

This means that you must have a plan in place to continue to move prospects forward after they have engaged on Twitter by Following you. That’s where content curation becomes critical.

Promoted Tweets gives brands a new way to get in front of customers, but the ongoing engagement must be part of a sustained effort to provide useful information to the prospect. That means the marketer’s job shifts even further into the content production realm. Marketing organizations must be prepared to adopt content marketing best practices in order to move prospects through the consideration funnel. Content marketing activities rely on, well, content. So, get ready to become a content expert.

Eric Anderson and I will be discussing all of these factors in our upcoming webinar, including how this new Twitter ad platform should be included. It will be available next week, and you can sign up for our next webinar on content marketing here to be notified when it is available.

This post is cross-posted on the White Horse blog.