Thursday, 15 April 2010

Twitter Promoted Tweets. Not Twitter Advertising

So Twitter has finally released the first signs of a business model into the wild. Twitter is (still) a guarantee of colum inches, so there has been a lot written about it in the last few days, and from what I can see quite a lot of it misses the point, because it talks about Twitter advertising.
(image courtesy of The Tech Update)
Now there are always going to be a few purist, extremist and nostalgic folk who object to Twitter having a business model. As a huge fan of the service I for one will ignore and unfollow them as I want Twitter to survive and flourish as a commercial entity. However, from what I can see of how Promoted Tweets will work they are named for a reason. If you think of them as advertising you will miss a lot of the point.

Much of the challenge for brands in the realtime web is about ensuring that the positive floats above the negative. Hence disciplines like Search Engine Relationship Management, which pushes positive news above negative in the SERP by leveraging the power of the brand's website to link to the positive. In the Twitter environment this hasn't been possible, so brands will tend to post more than they probably should do in order to appear top of stream as often as possible. What Promoted Tweets allows us to do (subject to resonance) is hold that position at the top of the stream (well, initially at the top of the search results stream). So far, so much like Google. But the key difference is WHAT brands are promoting. Surely the tweets that a brand will gain most from promoting are those that it hasn't written? The positive opinions of regular customers. Thinking about how to write copy for Twitter ads seems to miss the point that, according to Dick Costolo, 'Promoted tweets are not ads'. To me that means exactly that - they are tweets that the brand has chose to promote. Essentially retweets, but only of content that is likely to engage people, and therefore remain at the top of results through resonance algorithms.

Where the promoted/advertised line starts to blur is when Promoted Tweets move from the search page into the stream. Because what Costollo also says is that 'promoted tweets are just tweets'. Now up till now all the income that Twitter has received is from Google and Microsoft, to incorporate the full stream into real time search results - Google having changed their algorithm to incorporate realtime data. So as real time is promoted up the Google results page, and promoted tweets are just tweets, will they also be hovering at the top of the data that Google are buying?


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