Hello, smart business owner. You’re a pretty socially-savvy person, so you’ve probably heard that Twitter this week began making money selling ads on its site. Placing an ad thoughtfully on the site could do a lot to raise your social profile online and help you find new customers. Or, it could be a total disaster. Our advice? Don’t buy that ad until you’ve read this blog entry.

Twitter ads are a zebra of a different stripe

First off, these ads follow a different format than ads on Google or Facebook. They follow Twitter’s classic restriction: 140 characters or less. Craft your message carefully – it should be conversational and catchy. Use the ad to encourage your reader to do something at that moment. The best ads are so good, people will want to repost them elsewhere. This is the pinnacle of Twitter success.

Don’t forget the nuts and bolts

Let’s put aside style and content for a second, and talk about mechanics. You’ll have far fewer than 140 characters for your message after you subtract the number of characters in your shortened URL, potential RTs and hashtags. Try this: Put all the pieces into your ad before you write the text. For example, let’s say I’m running the Tutti Frutti Twitter feed, and I want to advertise a frozen yogurt promotion. I’d start out by typing “RT @tfyogurt #freeyogurt http://bit.ly/bZ0uaP” and checking the character count. 45 glorious characters. I now have 95 characters for my message, and ideally it would squeeze in even shorter than that. Totally fictional example: “We love our customers! Buy one get one free frozen yogurt today. #freeyogurt http://bit.ly/bZ0uaP” That comes in at a svelte 97 characters, with 43 characters left for an RT and commentary from other Twitterers.

It’s an ad that doesn’t look like an ad

In the beginning, there were Google ads, and those were pretty straightforward. Then, there were Facebook ads, and those were a little different, but understandable. Now, we have Twitter ads, and the rules are still being ironed out. You’ll want to remember, this is a conversation, not a message. Your ad should be interesting, personally engaging and retweetable. Twitter users have grown up on a site that largely did not contain traditional advertising. Best case scenario, your ad is useful and people talk about it favorably. Probable scenario, people ignore your ad. Worst case scenario, the ad gets vicious criticism from across the Twittersphere.

The bizarre place these ads will go

For now, Twitter is placing these ads, called “promoted tweets” inside its own search engine. Ads get triggered if people search for relevant terms. In our frozen yogurt example, they might run alongside searches for “yogurt,” or “Tutti Frutti.” Think about your ad in that context, and adjust your expectations accordingly. If they’re searching for the phrase, “Tutti Frutti,” they’re probably already following you on Twitter. And who knows why someone would be searching for the term “yogurt.” Just because the ads are there, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily right for your business.

What’s the ultimate goal?

Do you want to gain Twitter followers? Do you want to drive traffic to a promotional page on your website? Do you want to encourage people to shop in your store? Keep those goals in mind when tailoring your message.

The Loughlin Michaels Group always knows what to say. Contact us today to talk about how we can amplify your voice.