Twitter advertising best practices: 5 tips from a Twitter Ads campaign

If you are interested in advertising on Twitter, the five tips from my trial of Twitter Ads may help you better run your own campaign.

To promote a free online course in Audio Slideshow Storytelling, I ran a month-long “promoted tweets” campaign from Jan. 9 to Feb. 9. For a final cost of $129, the campaign generated 176 engagements. (FYI: engagement can be click, retweet, reply or follow)

Takeaway #1: You need to conduct keyword research

Twitter uses keywords to connect your promoted tweets and the targeted Twitter users. Keyword targeting allows you to reach Twitter users based on keywords in their search queries, recent Tweets, and Tweets they recently engaged with.

In my case, I targeted three keywords: “audio slideshow,” “photo slideshow” and “soundslides.” Twitter Ads team suggests that “Adding more similarly themed keywords will help you reach a large enough audience to achieve your marketing goals.”

And this brings up the issue of “how to find keywords?” I chose the three keywords based on my experience with the subject, without conducting a keyword research. Twitter Help has a tutorial on keyword targeting, but I don’t find it much useful. Actually, we can use the same SEO keyword research techniques, such as those in this tutorial on keyword research, that people use when optimizing web texts for search engines.

Takeaway #2: Keywords – the more precise, the more engagements

The more precise a keyword is, the more engagements it generates. See the screen shot below for stats of the three keywords in my campaign.

Twitter Ads keywords

As I said, my campaign targeted three keywords: “photo slideshow,” “audio slideshow” and “soundslides.” Based on my experience, “soundslides” is a highly specific keyword, that whoever searches for this keyword, he or she is looking for information about a software (Soundslides) for audio photo slideshow creation. “Audio slideshow” is a little broader, and refers to a photo slideshow accompanied by a narration track. “Photo slideshow” is the broadest, referring to a group photos presented as a slideshow without any sound.

When we look at the engagement rates for the three keywords, we can see that “soundslides” has the highest engagement rate (7.14%), meaning Twitter users who searched for this keyword were more likely to click the tweet and check out the offer. On the other hand, “photo slideshow” has the lowest rate (1.38%).

But there is a catch: there are far fewer impressions for “soundslides” (42) than for “photo slideshow” (9,508), meaning there were very few people who searched for “soundslides,” and this tells us that although “soundslides” generates more engagements, it nonetheless is not an effective keyword to target.

Takeaway #3: Your tweets should have an effective “call to action”

You need to incorporate some sort of “call to action” (CTA) in your tweets to engage people, prompting them to click, retweet, reply, or follow. You can read this post for what “call to action” is; in my case, I conducted a mini A/B test and it shows the necessity to call the target audiences to take action.

See the screen shot below for the three tweets and the engagement rate for each tweet.

Twitter Ads tips

After the first promoted tweet, I drafted two more tweets to test “call to action.” The second tweet, without CTA, reads, “Telling a story using audio slideshow: A free online course w/ tips on interview, photography, editing & more.” The third tweet uses some call-to-action techniques: benefit (make a compelling slideshow on smartphone), action (sign up for free online course). The results are interesting: The tweet without CTA has an engagement rate of 1.22 percent; the tweet that uses CTA has a rate of 1.78 percent.

[br] Takeaway #4: Your contents should be optimized for mobile devices

Looking at the platform stats, I was surprised to find that, out of the 11,000 impressions, only 3,000 were delivered on desktop or laptop computers; the other 8,000 impressions were delivered on mobiles devices, and most of which are Apple devices with iOS platform.

This tells us that when a Twitter user clicks to access your landing page, contents on that page must be optimized for viewing on mobile devices. A regular webpage will look cluttered on the smaller screens of mobile devices and will likely turn visitors away. If you have a WordPress blog, check out how I optimized this blog for mobile readers.

Twitter ads platforms

Takeaway #5: You need multiple tweets to promote an event

Twitter Ads team suggests that “Successful advertisers test different Tweets to identify the most engaging message for their audience.” At a minimum, you need three different tweets; the ideal number is around 20 tweets.

In my case, I crafted three different tweets and promoted them on Jan. 9, Jan. 19 and Jan. 29, respectively. Together, the three promoted tweets produced about 11,000 impressions, meaning they were presented 11,000 times to Twitter users looking for related information. The campaign has an engagement rate of 1.60 percent, which is about the average engagement rate of Twitter Ads campaigns.

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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