It looks like a normal tweet. It can be re-tweeted, replied to and marked as a “favourite” like a normal tweet, but Twitter’s new targeted tweets are not shared in the same way as the standard model, and it’s this feature that seems to be paying dividends for advertisers like The Washington Post.
Only five days ago Twitter officially announced that it would be enhancing its "Promoted Tweets," having already piloted a new scheme with British Airways, Wendys, The Washington Post and Coca-Cola. The changes introduced mean that instead of publishing a tweet to all followers and only being able to make it a promoted tweet afterwards, advertisers can target specific sections of their audiences according to geographical location, or device (desktop/ laptop computer vs. mobile phones, tablets).
SocialCode, the social advertising agency employed by The Washington Post analysed a sample of tweets linked to articles on the paper’s Social Reader to test the efficacy of Twitter’s new filters. These tweets had been aimed at iOS, Android and Blackberry users. On average, when tweets were tailored to a particular mobile device, engagement rates were three-times higher than those for non-targeted tweets sent to all followers, rising from 1.1 percent to more than 3 percent for Android and iOS and above 3.5 percent for Blackberry. The Post also benefitted from an expansion in its "tweeting range": Twitter also adapted tweets to its “similar users,” those who don’t follow the Post but have profiles that suggest they would be compatible. SocialCode’s CEO Laura O’Shaunessy explains that engagement rates were measured “per tweet by calculating total engagement including clicks, re-tweets and replies divided by total number of impressions.”
The new system still retains many traits of the original promoted tweets; Twitter can still measure the popularity of a tweet using resonance signals, and the most successful ones will be more prominent than other, less popular attempts. Furthermore advertisers only pay when a user engages with a tweet, and opting to make use of Twitter’s new targeting tools comes at no extra cost.
In light of the early success encountered by the Post, it would be surprising if other news titles did not follow suit, especially when we consider that since adopting the new-and-improved promoted tweets The Washington Post has seen the number of new daily followers it normally attracts increase almost threefold, from 17 to 47.