The Perils of Twitter Advertising

As marketers continue to get to grips with the ever-changing world of social media marketing, there continues to be a number of black holes appearing that remain sealed in bureaucracy.

It’s all too easy to be blindsided by the benefits of social media advertising and forget to insure your best interests. Therefore I’ve invested some time this week in researching some of the perils that Twitter advertising could present to brands both big and small.

Promoted Tweets are certainly straightforward solutions to your Twitter marketing needs. As with Facebook advertising, you’re in control of your message and who sees it. But it’s worth remembering that social media marketing is still within the grasp of your man in the street.

Just last week Chicago-based business owner, Hasan Syed, bought a promoted Tweet for little more than $1,000 to slam British Airways following particularly poor customer service. It simply read: “Don’t fly with @British_Airways. They can’t keep track of your luggage”.

British Airways Twitter

The Tweet was not only seen by Syed’s 400 followers, but also 50,000 other Twitter users that were specifically “targeted” during the campaign. By tagging @British_Airways in the content too, Syed potentially exposed the Tweet via search fields to many of BA’s own 303,000+ followers too.

Marty St. George, a marketing executive at JetBlue, Tweeted soon after: “Interesting; a disgruntled customer is buying a promoted tweet slamming a brand where they had a bad experience. That’s a new trend itself!”

He warned that the use of promoted tweets as a form of consumer complaint could be the start of an emerging trend. This acts as a stark reminder that gone are the days where the brand itself is the powerhouse; in this day in age, the consumer is in the driving seat. Social media has proven to be a powerful weapon for disgruntled consumers who are able to act on their freedom of speech to effectively slate the offending brand.

It is proven that people “listen” on social media. When using the likes of Facebook or Twitter, people are typically engaged for long periods of time. So much so that they may often find themselves interacting with the stories of complete strangers.

It only takes a few hours for a post to go viral and in those few hours some serious damage can be done to even the toughest brands.

Another way of reaching your audience, which is growing in popularity particularly in the US, is celebrity endorsement. Stars such as Khloe Kardashian are reported to earn as much as £5,000 per Tweet, thus exposing the product or service to millions of users in one swift go. However, one UK campaign that went awry (but arguably boosted the brand in question nonetheless) goes back to early 2012, when Twitter advertising was still in its infancy.

Katie Price and Rio Ferdinand were amongst various famous faces that took part in a Snickers campaign, which led to a probe by the Advertising Standards Agency.

Katie Price Snickers

‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ was at risk of breaching 2008 consumer protection regulations simply by not clearly stating that the Tweets in question were adverts.

Of course, with Twitter advertising you run a major risk of being “spammy” too. Despite the good intentions of your campaign, it’s likely that your message will find its way onto the news feeds of some of the most irrelevant users on the network. Yes, this counts towards the exposure you’re aiming for, but clogging up news feeds with bumf can sometimes do more damage than good – it’s important to get the balance right.

With so many unexplored risks to advertising on Twitter, it’s definitely worthwhile doing your research.

As the popularity of this marketing tool grows, I’m sure legislation will do its best to keep up. The future of digital relies heavily on social media for both pleasure and commercial uses – however much you may still be trying to avoid admitting it.

If you’d like a chat on how Twitter could help your business, please do get in touch. Why not follow me on Twitter @DanielleDunn_CA to stay in the loop too?


One thought on “The Perils of Twitter Advertising

  1. Never used Twitter advertising, mainly down to budgets and cost but hopefully you will be able to help me with a question about its potential. At my previous role, I was frequently contacted by a sales person at Twitter, who claimed that you have to sign up to Twitter to advertise for a minimum of three months, costing around £5k per month. In the article you referred to one man buying a promoted tweet for just over $1,000 – could you shed some light on how this was possible? I can’t see him signing up to what Twitter were requesting our business signed up to.

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