Twitter Advertising – Just Don’t Do It – Part 1

I need to preface this by saying that several years ago, back when no one knew what the heck Social even was, let alone how it worked or where it was going, I read UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. I actually believed in the principle of Engagement and it directed all of my Social interactions for the next few years as I built up a base of friends, fans, and followers on Twitter and Facebook.

For those of you fellow old-timers, this is where the Internet was in the 90’s. Back in the day with flashing jumping scotty dogs on a geocities site filled with wall to wall banners and silly random text in the middle of the page. Funny how it all comes around again, like really bad fashion and hair.

Now that Facebook is protecting people from themselves by picking and choosing what people should see, despite what they clicked “Like” on, I turned back to Twitter as an experiment in their advertising model. I have written extensively on the blatant ripoff that Facebook ads are, so now it’s time to see how Twitter stacks up.

There was an article recently on how to get $.01 Twitter followers from Twitter. This isn’t really a savings, since you can buy blocks of thousands of Malaysian followers on Fiverr at ten for a penny and less. But the enhanced targeting allows you to finely control the demographic of your potential followers, so that you can actually engage with them. Article HERE in case you want to read it.

I decided for the relatively cheap cost of testing this, to go ahead. I already had a Twitter advertising account. I set it up a long time ago when they first offered it to me, so if you’re wanting to do this, it might take a little longer. In my case it took about 2 minutes. I flipped the switch on the ad, and it warned me that at $.01 it wasn’t going to run, and I ignored it and went with it anyway. Several hours later it was apparently approved and started running.

I let it run for a couple days and noticed an increase in followers. I checked out each of them for the potential to follow back and get on with my old-fashioned engagement centered Social ways. Sadly most of them were outside my demographic entirely. Half of them didn’t even use the standard Latin characters in their bios or posts. I couldn’t interact with them if I wanted to. Latin characters form the basis of English, the language that I speak and type in. I also noticed, particularly in the non-Latin users, that they had several hundred thousand followers and were following as many. They apparently had the 2000 friend limit beat.

This experiment points out a few important things.

  1. If you want followers for $.01 and don’t much care if they speak English or will even interact with you, this will work as promised in the article cited.
  2. If you want to engage with the users, this is a crap-shoot at about 50% success, though I haven’t attempted engaging any of the new followers, so can’t make promises about that.
  3. Twitter doesn’t much care what demographic targeting you choose.

That last point is the most important to me. If they don’t care what you choose for a target market, then they shouldn’t offer the illusion of targeting. 

So there you have Part 1 of my Twitter advertising experiment. I could let this promotion run for a few weeks and probably spend about $3.00 total while just ignoring the non-Latin followers until they unfollow next week. It might be interesting to try, since 15 is a very small sample and statistically insignificant.

In Part 2 I’ll discuss an ad to promote a website link and how that plays out. It’s even more fun than this one in regards to how Twitter is apparently deceiving their advertisers.

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About the Author: Charles

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