The Anatomy Of An Effective Twitter Ad

Social Media, WORK

Launched in 2007, Twitter came with big promises for the world of social media. It wanted to change the world.

Today, the 140-character platform has changed how people have conversations on social media, how they respond to global events, and how they communicate their brand.

According to social media examiner’s 2017 trend report, 82% of marketers are putting in more than 40+hours weekly on Twitter with 56% of them planning to increase their posting frequency on the platform.

Facebook largely drives paid activities while Twitter remains an essential platform for advertising because of its many benefits.

However, with more than 500 Million daily tweets, it becomes increasingly difficult for brands and businesses to tap into the right conversations at the right time.

So how can you advertise on Twitter more efficiently to reach the right audience? How can you meet your goals with Twitter advertising? What elements make an effective Twitter ad? We’ll tell you how!

The Right Objective

This is the first and often most overlooked step when creating an ad. Knowing your key objective is important to get the most out of your social media spend.

For example, if your goal is to drive traffic then choosing engagements as your goal may not be the right move.

Twitter has the following objectives that allow you to reach the right people to enable the desired action:

Website Clicks & Conversions

When to use it: You want to drive traffic to your site, and you want people to take action (i.e. downloading a whitepaper, registering for your event, subscribing to your newsletter, making a purchase).

What you pay for: Number of clicks that lead to website visits.

Key metrics: Cost Per Clicks, Cost Per Conversion, Click Through Rate.

Tweet Engagements

When to use it: You have posted a fantastic tweet you think has the potential to engage a lot of people. You promote it hoping people will engage with your tweet.

What you pay for: Paid engagements on your tweet. Anything that’s organic as a result of your ad is free.

Key metrics: Cost Per Engagement, Engagement Rate.


When to use it: You’ve been tweeting for a long time, and now you’re looking for more followers. The more people you have in your community, the stronger the network for engagement.

What you pay for: Paid followers.

Key metrics: Cost Per Follow, Follow Rate.


When to use it: You have something in your arsenal that’s worthy of everyone’s attention This time awareness is your campaign objective. Perfect for top of the mind recall.

What you pay for: A Thousand Impressions. Note: Reach is the unique number of people your ad has reached, and an impression is the number of times they have seen your ad.

Key Metrics: CPM or Cost Per Thousand Impressions.

Video Views

When to use it: You made a video and you want everyone to see it.

What you pay for: Promoted video views. (Note: Nearly 90% of all Promoted Videos are viewed on mobile so it’s always good to optimize the video for mobile users.)

Key Metrics: Cost Per View, View Rate.

App Installs or Re-engagements

When to use it: You want to drive installs for your mobile-app or you want to re-engage with your existing users.

What you pay for: Installs of your app. (All other engagements are free)

Key Metrics: Cost Per Install

After choosing the right objective and the duration of the campaign, it is important to detail your campaign with effective targeting.

Relevant Targeting

Targeting is the crux of a successful campaign. With millions of conversations going on, it’s important to define the audience that will help you reach your goal.

Just like every other advertising platform, Twitter gives you the ability to target your audience based on demographics and psychographics.

Here are a few great examples of some of Twitter’s targeting features:

Keyword Targeting

One of the most powerful features of Twitter — keyword targeting — helps you target based on intent.

With the right keyword targeting, your ad reaches out to people who have recently used that phrase in their tweets or have searched about it on Twitter. Here’s one of many great examples by Twitter on how to do it right:

“Suppose your company sells baby clothes. Your phrase-matched “boy infant clothes” keyword from your search campaigns is unlikely to reach many users on Twitter, because people don’t Tweet that way. Why not reach an interested audience by trying a keyword like ‘it’s a boy?’ Eight thousand Tweets per week contain ‘it’s a boy’; almost zero contain ‘boy infant clothes.’”

Username & Interest Targeting

Use interest-based targeting when you want to reach a larger audience base. With over 350 categories to choose from, interest-based targeting can be a good way to test your campaign and how a certain group of users respond to it.

Couple this with username targeting that helps you reach out to followers with interests similar to the account you have targeted. For example, if you target @buffer, a social media management tool, your ad will reach people who are likely interested in digital marketing and social media.

Tailored Audience

This is a hidden gem within Twitter. With tailored audiences, you can reach out to people with highly relevant and targeted campaigns.

Here are three ways you can use Tailored Audience to make your ad effective.

Manual Bidding

Bidding is the most important part of any campaign. When you are new to Twitter, it is often unclear what you should be bidding in the first place.

A general rule to follow is to never use automatic bidding unless you want to reach a large pool in a short span of time.

Always make use of manual bidding and set a maximum bid (the most you are willing to pay per engagement) for your campaign. Click here to learn more about Twitter bidding best practices.

Creative and Copy

Your creative and your copy can make or break a campaign. Use clean, mobile-optimized images, and action-oriented copy.

Here are some overall best practices for creative and copy:

  • Align the creative with your brand identity
  • Write a tweet that speaks directly to your audience
  • Always A/B test the creative and copy, measure the results and choose the ones that perform best
  • Remember: Twitter is all about trending topics. Choose creative and copy that reflects trending elements to catch more attention. (Note: If you aren’t running an engagement campaign, don’t use hashtags in your tweet copy. Unnecessary hashtags distract the user from taking the desired action.)

When done right, Twitter advertising can serve to be a huge boost for campaigns. Make use of the right objective, focus your targeting, bid manually, and make stellar copy and creative to stand out and win at the Twitter ads game.


5 Twitter Tricks Only Power Users Know


Step-by-step breakdown of each one of them so that you can become a power user too

#1. Branding every link you post on Twitter (and everywhere else)

[Update: Start A Fire has stopped their services. Another great option to do this is]

Tweets of a majority of brands, media publications and individuals redirect people to an external site. What most don’t realize is that every piece of content shared anywhere on Social Media can be an opportunity.

A brilliant way to own every piece of content you share on Social Media is to brand it through tools like Sniply or Start A Fire. These tools provide you a CTA/Custom badge that you can use on any link you share.

Here’s an example tweet:

Here’s an example link: The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received

The custom badge that shows up when you click on the link will be available to anyone who shares it.

Here’s how you can do it too:

  • Visit Start A Fire and create a free account using Twitter, Facebook or e-mail.
  • Once signed-in, click on “Recommended Content” and add the URL and Title of the link you want to promote.
  • Next, click on your profile and then on “Customize Badge”. Here, fill your name, picture and website/blog URL and save it. Then click on “Follow Buttons” and link your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest profile.

  • Lastly, click on your profile again and go to “Integration & Tools”. Connect your Buffer account (or any other scheduling platform you use) with Start A Fire.

That’s it!

Now all you need to do is keep adding your content to Buffer and Start A Fire will automatically brand all the links. It will also throw some quick stats around your links such as page-views, avg. time on page and badge clicks.

Page views on the content

For personal use, Start A Fire serves to be a great option. If you are a brand or media publication, Sniply offers more customizations.

#2. Automating your tweets using hand-curated content

Too busy to tweet about your industry? Let Quuu help you out.

Quuu offers hand-curated content suggestions for your Twitter as well as Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Here’s an example:

Neat right? Here’s how to do it:

  • Sign-up for using your Buffer account
  • Once signed-in, select relevant categories you want to post content from
  • Next, click on settings and choose the profiles you want to connect and the number of posts you want to be scheduled (max 2)

Quuu will automatically push content to your buffer from where it will be scheduled for the time of your choosing.

Bonus: If you have already linked it with Start A Fire, all your automated tweets will be branded as well!

#3. Automating Twitter List creation

Twitter Lists are a great way to improve your experience on Twitter. Here’s a Buffer blog by Kevan Lee that lists 23 uses of it: 23 Seldom-Used Ideas for How to Use Twitter Lists.

But do you have to manually create a Twitter list? Hell no! Enter IFTTT.

IFTTT let’s you automate various tasks — one of which is creating a Twitter list. Here’s how to do it:

  • Log-in to your IFTTT account and click on New Applet
  • Create a new applet following the mentioned steps so that you arrive to something like the below applet. Don’t forget to click on check to see if it is working

That’s it! From now, whenever someone tweets with your particular keyword — which can be anything from a topic you follow to your or your competitors’ event-hashtag — they will get added in the list.

Bonus tip: Export the members of your Twitter list using Electoral HQ and feed them to your Twitter tailored audience to create an amazing highly targeted list of people you can show your ads to!

#4. Getting subscribers for your blog directly from Twitter

Want more subscribers for your blog straight through Twitter? Use Twitter Cards. Twitter is full of many hidden features and one such feature is a lead generation Twitter card that you don’t really have to pay anything to use.

Here’s an example that I created:

If someone wishes to subscribe, they can click the Subscribe Now button and submit their information. Twitter automatically fills up the Email-ID so that’s one less step!

Once the user submits, their lead will reflect in the Cards creative manager. You can click on the arrow to download all the users who have subscribed.

But, how do you do it? It’s fairly easy.

  • Go to your Twitter account and click on Twitter ads.
  • Choose Lead Generation on Twitter as the objective and click on Create Campaign.
  • You will be re-directed to a page to create the campaign. Skip everything and go to the “Creatives” part.
  • In Compose Tweets, write the tweet and add an image (Recommended size: 800*200). In the CTA section, provide the details of the fallback URL & privacy policy, write the short description and a striking CTA.

  • Next, tweet (promoted-only) and copy the generated URL which you are going to use will be using for the lead generation.
  • Go to your twitter account, write a tweet, paste the copied URL and tweet it. #DontForgetToPinIt

And you are done! You are now ready to receive leads directly from your Twitter account.

Note: If you are managing a brand’s account, you can directly go to your ad accounts’ cards section and create a lead-gen card. Rest of the process remains the same.

#5. Personalizing your tweets to people/Tweeting privately

Let’s say you want to reach out to a person of interest but they don’t have their DM enabled for everyone. Now, you can tweet to them in which case your tweet is public or you can do a dark tweet — which is only visible to the person you are tweeting and invisible even on search*.

Apple used this brilliantly for the launch of i-Phone 7. Notice, apple hasn’t really Tweeted anything yet.

Here’s how you can do it too:

  • Go to your Twitter ads account and choose objective as Twitter engagements.
  • Skip everything and go to creatives.
  • Under promoted-only tweets, write the tweet and mention the person you want to reach out to. Add media if you wish so and click on Publish.
  • Your tweet is now published and will look something like this

The person you tagged, will then receive this as a mention in their notifications. Neat right?

*If the tweet is shared by the person you tagged, then it will be visible to anyone on Twitter.

Have you tried any of these? How was your experience? Let me know as a response and if this helped you, don’t forget to recommend (❤) so that others can see it too!

About Prateek

Prateek Keshari is a Digital Marketer at HCL Technologies. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.