Photographers now have another option for spending their hard-earned advertising dollars. Last week Twitter announced Promoted Tweets, a service that finally moves them into the paid advertising space. Is this service one that photographers should seriously consider? And how does it compare to current advertising options such as Google AdWords and Facebook?
How It Works
Initially the service will act as a sponsored search. When you search on a keyword, the top return on the search results page (and only the top return) will be a sponsored tweet and will update as the page results do. The advertiser that paid the most for that keyword will be the one presented.
Nick O’Neill of SocialTimes has put together a quick video demo of the service:
Twitter plans to roll out Promoted Tweets slowly and monitor its performance and resonance. Future phases of the product will include a roll-out to Twitter clients, and we may see their display beyond search results into users’ feeds during the fourth quarter.
The Cost of Keywords
Twitter’s concept is for advertisers to bid on keywords on a cost-per-thousand basis, similar to other online advertising models. A slight difference is the development of a performance model that would be the basis for pricing based on resonance.
“Resonance” reflects how well the tweet is accepted by the public — how it is passed around, retweeted and favorited, as well as its click-through performance. Sponsored tweets that have high resonance will stay in the cycle, while those with lower metrics will fall out.
The Twitter revenue model is “not just about us. It’s about you if you choose to participate in that.”
— Evan Williams, Twitter CEO
We can attempt to estimate the costs Twitter will charge per keyword by comparing existing price structures on Google and Facebook.
For example, the keyword Washington DC Wedding Photographer on Google AdWords has a suggested bid of $2.60, with an average of 142 monthly searches. To target “Wedding Photography in DC” on Facebook, the site suggests a .60-.81 CPC or .28 CPM to target Washington, D.C., residents in an engaged status interested in weddings, which would reach an estimated 460 people.
One issue with this comparison is that the opportunities for ads on Google and Facebook are much greater than Twitter, at least at this stage.
Until Twitter adds Promoted Tweets to user feeds, these ads will only be available at the top of search results at Twitter.com, and only one at a time. Evan Williams reported that Twitter receives 600 million search queries a day, but no word on how many of these were served from Twitter.com or through API calls, where Promoted Tweets will not appear until a future phase.
The current implementation has the likelihood of creating major competition and increased prices for high-performing keywords.
At TweetUp, people can bid on key words or phrases to push their Twitter profile or posts to the top of TweetUp’s rankings. Bids begin at one cent, and people will pay each time their profile or a post shows up in a search. TweetUp post rankings, both paid and relevant, will appear in services such as Seesmic, TwitterFeed and Twidroid and in search bars on Web sites like Answers.com and BusinessInsider.com.
Should Photographers Buy Promoted Tweets?
In most cases, the early bird gets the worm. I expect the early adopters from the photography community will be the likes of Scott Kelby and David Ziser, both of whom obtain revenue beyond clicking the shutter. We will be able to learn from their efforts and adjust ours accordingly.
The early advertisements may not promote photography services at all, but rather products along the lines of training, books, Webinars and those that are not restricted by geographical boundaries. Twitter is making strides in improving their location functions; once this is more mature, I expect to see more advertising of photography services like weddings, portraits, etc.
As Aaron Hockley said on his Social Photo Podcast, photographers should devote their time and effort (and money) where their clients are.
A wedding photographer would do well on Facebook, where there is a large number of 20-something bride-to-be’s. A corporate photographer would probably find his best clientele online at a social network like LinkedIn. While Twitter has a good mix of clientele, it is heavily used by technology savvy people — which is a good target for photographers that provide technical event coverage or start-up marketing material production.
Must you spend money on Promoted Tweets to be effective on Twitter? No, the strength of Twitter for promotion continues to be the viral experience of retweets to increase your number of followers. It is a proven fact that a solid Twitter marketing strategy combined with a well-designed and updated blog can improve lead opportunities for small to midsize businesses.
Our goal is to make Twitter a tool for finding what people care about, not just more information.
— Evan Williams
Time will tell.