Twitter has over 200 million active users creating over 400 million Tweets per day. That’s a lot of people and a lot of tweets.

For business owners, Twitter has become an important tool for distributing content, providing support to existing customers and proactively reaching out to potential customers.

To make its platform more attractive to businesses and brands, In 2012 Twitter began slowly rolling out its paid ads platform, however it was only made available to certain partners on an invite-only basis. This past April that all changed when Twitter announced that they would be making Twitter Ads available to all users in the U.S.

That means no matter how big or small your business is, and no matter how many followers you have, you can now start leveraging Twitter's paid service to amplify your Twitter presence, gain new followers, create more awareness about your business and drive more traffic to your website.

Get $50 in Free Twitter Ads from Shopify

We are pleased to announce that we have teamed up with Twitter to offer all U.S. based Shopify stores a free $50 Twitter Ads credit.

This is a great opportunity for merchants to get started testing some paid tweets and get familiar with the Twitter Ads platform. 

Claim Twitter Ads Credit Now

Getting Started With Twitter Ads

Even if you don't use Shopify, you can still get started using Twitter ads by heading over to the regular sign up page and completing the on-boarding process.

Once you've created your account and entered your billing information, you're ready to create your first campaign. When you click the 'Create Campaign' button, you will be asked whether you want to promote your account or promote your tweets.

Note: At the moment, there are actually two Twitter advertising dashboards available on the self-service platform, Basic and Advanced. There is seemingly no difference in cost or how ads perform, but the basic dashboard limits you to a single target audience that will be applied to every promoted tweet or your promoted account. The advanced dashboard lets you target several audiences. All screenshots below are from the Advanced dashboard.

Promoted Tweets vs Promoted Account

Promoted Tweets: These will probably work best to extend your reach on Twitter and drive immediate traffic to your products, blog, or campaign landing page. That's because they (should) put a relevant message in front of users that don't currently follow you but are interested in the subject matter of your tweet.

When promoting a tweet you can choose to promote any of your existing tweets or create a new tweet to promote.

If you choose to create a new tweet, you also have the option to set it up as a Standard Tweet which is delivered immediately to all of your followers, or as a Promoted-only Tweet which is not delivered to your followers, suppressed from your profile and only delivered as part of a Promoted Tweet campaign.

To enable this option, make sure you select the Promoted-only 'eye' icon when composing a new tweet.

Once created, a tweet can be selected, bid on, and deployed at any point in the future.

The promoted tweet will appear at the top of related search results pages and on home timelines for users that might be interested in the promoted tweet's content.

The important thing to remember is that a promoted tweet should provide a relevant message that links to a landing page intended to get your prospect to take some form of action. That action could be buying a product or getting your prospect to enter their email so you can start a relationship and send future offers to them.

Promoted Accounts: These on the other hand are meant to start a relationship on Twitter itself rather than attempting to direct traffic elsewhere. This is more of a long term play that will help you build trust and a following over time that gets people seeing more of your tweets on a regular basis.

A promoted account will show up in the 'Who to Follow' widget positioned at the left side of the Twitter interface on the 'Home' and 'Connect' tabs. The promoted account will also show up in some search results and on a user's profile page in the 'Similar to You' widget.

It may be helpful to think of promoted tweets as being most similar to Google AdWords. Both are pay-per-click advertising intended to drive traffic. Promoted accounts might be thought of as the search engine optimization (SEO) done to improve results on Google or Bing. While you're still going to pay for each follow with a promoted account, the point is to increase the size of the audience that sees your posts naturally.

Targeting Strategies

The Twitter advertising self-service platform will allow you to target users by keywords, interest or through your profile.

In addition to these parameters, you can also target further by location, device and operating system, gender, interests or username.

When entering exact match key phrases that you want to target, it's important to keep in mind that in Google searches people tend to leave out small "connector words" like "a" and "the" but on Twitter people use conversational language so you may need to include these words in order to get an exact match.

In addition, Twitter will only deliver promoted accounts or tweets to users that it believes will be interested in your content. So selecting "fishing" as an interest does not necessarily mean that your promoted tweets or account will be shown to every Twitter user interested in fishing, but rather those interested in fishing that Twitter believes will also be interested in you.

An Auction Model

Twitter ads, like many other popular forms of online advertising, are based on an auction model, meaning that advertisers bid on their ads and the most profitable — not necessarily the highest bid — ads are likely to receive the greatest number of impressions.

Twitter has said that it will not increase ad frequency, which might make the platform pretty competitive. For many small online retailers, this competition may mean that it makes sense to get an early start on Twitter.

Almost all pay-for-performance advertising requires a bit of experimentation. And it is best to experiment when there is less competition driving up bids.

Have you experimented with Twitter Ads yet? Do you ever click on promoted tweets?