Will Francis

A How-To Guide To Using Twitter Ads

4 March 2016, Will Francis

Twitter’s advertising platform has been available to all users for almost three years, but still the ever-evolving platform confuses many marketers with its complicated interface and multiple
ad types.
Twitter ad options

This guide to each of Twitter’s ad products, is drawn from our first-hand experience running client campaigns with a range of core objectives.


Dollar Shave Club Twitter campaign

Follower campaigns are the recommended route for a brand starting out or lacking a significant audience on Twitter. Your profile is promoted either through one of your tweets, where the tweet appears in targeted users’ streams, as if they were following you; or you appear in the section on the right-hand side of every page in ‘Who to Follow’.

Website Clicks or Conversions

Betabrand Twitter campaign

If your aim is to see traffic results right away, this is the best ad type for you.

Here you’re creating conversion-focussed ads in the form of a website card, which clearly grabs the attention, and is tightly targeted at those most likely to convert. That latter point is crucial in bringing the most qualified leads possible to your site.

The pricing for this type of campaign is on a pay-per-click basis, and will be based on the budget that you have set. You will not have to pay if people retweet your ad, or any other form of organic engagement, such as likes or replies, so if the content is good, it be can great value for money.

Tweet Engagements

Killcliff Twitter campaign
This is essentially the original ‘Promoted Tweets’ product, which Twitter launched with back in 2013.

It’s where you take a tweet and put it in front of the people who will appreciate it the most, to garner likes, retweets, replies and follows. As is the case with all these ad types, you can be very specific about who you reach, and we find that using ‘Following’ i.e. defining people who follow specific accounts, can be a great way of targeting particular groups. For example, if you want to reach smart marketing professionals, you should be targeting followers of @emarketeers and @harkable 😉

App Installs

App installs on Twitter

This ad format is specifically for publishers of mobile apps, and therefore only shows to mobile Twitter users. You can target by all the usual data points, but also by mobile OS version, device, and WiFi connectivity, to ensure you reach people who are compatible with your app.

You can measure your campaign in real-time, tracking installs and opens of your app, so you can optimise the ads and bring the cost-per-install down as low as possible.

Leads on Twitter

Home Chef Twitter campaign

Growing your B2B newsletter list? Starting a CRM program for your e-commerce business? You should be. Email continues to be a highly valuable platform for getting your message in front of
people. In fact, many businesses find it more effective than social media, due to the potentially undivided attention an email can receive when compared with a post in a noisy place such as
Facebook or Twitter. Also, email is a more flexible platform for personalisation, content presentation and lifecycle marketing.

The ‘Leads on Twitter’ ad collects email addresses from your prospects that you target; and you can even upload your existing mailing list to exclude existing subscribers from being targeted.

The key here is value-driven messaging. Give users a really good reason to let you into their inbox, through a great image and compelling copy. Also, you can define where the user is taken after submitting their email address, so choose a conversion-focussed page on your site.

Video Views

General Electric Twitter campaign

Currently in beta, this new ad type offers advertisers the opportunity to put a video in the timeline of their target audience.

Content that works well here must overcome the need to be clicked, as you must upload to Twitter’s native player (not embed content from YouTube or elsewhere), and their player does not autoplay video ads.

Also, your message must land very quickly, as Twitter’s users are among the least patient, due to the fast skim-reading of content here.


Twitter Ads is a very versatile promotional medium. It boasts highly specific targeting options that go much deeper than gender, location and age down to what devices people use and which TV shows they watch.

With the low budgets required to test it, every business should at least try it and compare it with their other marketing activity, looking at acquisition, engagement and conversion as comparative metrics by which to value your efforts.

This post was written by Will Francis, a director of London-based creative digital agency Harkable. He writes, speaks and presents about technology, media and culture.