Is there EVER a good time to advertise on Twitter?

TL;DR – Yes

I’m a big fan of Twitter. It is, I feel, the most open, free and human of all the social media.

It gives a warts-and-all reflection of our species that other networks do all they can to avoid.

I like the fact that everything is public, I like the fact that the data is all accessible, I like the fact that it isn’t filtered, and I like the fact that nobody is obliged to use their real names. For all it’s flaws, it’s the only network that still feels alive and kicking – not boxed in by algorithmic safe zones.

But that doesn’t mean it’s any good for digital advertising. The fact that nobody uses real sign up information means targeting is a nightmare – so you always end up paying more for less with Twitter ads.

So, is there ever a good time to use a Twitter campaign?

Well, yes there is. But they certainly won’t come up that often.

The big advantage the Facebook and Google duopoly have over all other services is that they have so many active users (1.79 billion monthly active users in Facebook’s case – while Google processes 40,000 search queries every second).

Twitter has nothing like these numbers. They currently have around 313 million monthly active users.

So the hurdles for Twitter are two-fold:

  1. Comparatively few people on there
  2. It’s tough to target those who are – because users don’t give up much real-world information (unlike Facebook and Google)
fbtw

Facebook vs Twitter – monthly active users

But it’s not all bad news

Twitter does still have a few things going for it. For one, the lack of an algorithm to dictate what you see means everything is still completely live. This means you don’t have the rollercoaster ride of organic reach going up and down like you do on Facebook – and gives an atmosphere like no other network. News and sport fit particularly well.

You’ll notice a lot of Twitter’s biggest ads have something to do with football for this exact reason. They range from live streaming on Sky Sports, to player sponsorship campaigns like Paul Pogba’s ridiculous emoji.

This is no coincidence. Football fans still use Twitter in huge numbers. As an example, take Paul Pogba’s stupid hashtag.

It was mentioned over 730,000 times since being launched on Jan 15 during Man Utd v Liverpool.

pog

And, as you can see, the majority of those mentions came during a huge spike on the day of the game.

Twitter may struggle to get people constantly engaging all the time like Facebook does, but when things are actually happening RIGHT NOW, it still does pretty well.

Journalists

Football isn’t the only industry that obsesses over Twitter. Because, as my creative director is constantly harping on about, journalists are on there too.

This is because its very same RIGHT NOW vibe works very well for breaking news, reaction and hot takes.

So what does this all mean?

It means that if you have something to advertise that’s linked with live sports or news, then fill your boots. Sky Sports have been running clips of football that link through to the live match all season – it’s unlikely they’d keep doing it if it wasn’t working.

These campaigns have to be timed well, of course. The ads would be no good if they ran after the game finished. But that is easy to set up.

I’d also suggest that anything linking to a broader news story could do well. But Twitter certainly shouldn’t be the main thrust of it.

Journalists might be on Twitter – but they’re never going to write a story about an ad they just saw on there.

What they may do, however, is embed a tweet that’s come to their attention because it’s clever or witty.

A great example of this is a piece we did for Domino’s Pizza on Ed Balls Day (an annual news event in the UK).

dominos

As you can see, the Tweet itself did pretty well – but the real value came in it being embedded by journalists in various Ed Balls Day round ups. PR WIN!

This proves that jumping in on the national conversation can actually work well on Twitter – especially if you work hard to be witty or fun and drive organic engagement up.

Conclusions

In nearly all cases Facebook will give you a far better ROI than Twitter for advertising.

However – if your client is currently dominating the news agenda already – you have a case for getting some tweets out there – because they will already be front-of-mind.

Likewise, if you have a call to action directly liked to an unfolding news or sports event – then there is almost certainly a case to invest in Twitter ads.

The targeting isn’t great – but you are essentially using Twitter’s audience demographic as a targeting tool. It’s not as granular as Facebook – but because the subject areas are so huge, it’ll still work for you. Just keep in mind that because you will be targeting with pretty broad strokes, you’ll likely end up paying a premium.

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