Twitter Emerges as a Brand Marketing Tool

Facebook may be garnering much attention for its recent nod to brand marketers, but there’s another social media tool that is following much the same path without the fanfare: Twitter.

While Twitter has sometimes been dismissed as an inconsequential way to issue simple, short updates, the service has managed to emerge as a serious addition to marketing programs executed by some very big advertisers.

A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article dug deep into Twitter’s commercial popularity and found that it has been “discovered” by marketers who are realizing that tweets “double as ads.” It was Ashish Goel, a professor at Stanford University and consultant to Twitter who “had an important insight,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek:

“Everyone on Twitter is a marketer who wants to promote a link, a piece of news, or a personal update. Twitter’s strongest appeal to advertisers was to allow them to pay to add more heft to a standard message. Ads could then flow not only to the central Twitter website but to all of the various Twitter software programs on the Web and on mobile phones, some of which are administered by third-party companies.”

Discovering the Power of a Tweet

Twitter shrewdly kept its ad epiphany on the quiet side, testing the idea with a handful of large advertisers. When the Disney movie Toy Story 3 was about to open, Twitter created the “promoted trend” to fill the need to have a particular topic rise to the top of the Twitter main page for a whole day. It worked, as evidenced by the fact that this ad now costs about $120,000 in the U.S., according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Twitter advertising is catching on. The recent Super Bowl saw GM actively using Twitter, tying it in with television commercials, a technique that created a lot of buzz. Referring to an ensuing war of tweets that occurred between executives of GM and Ford, Joel Ewanick, Chief Marketing Officer for GM, told Bloomberg Businessweek, “At one point it was like the Hatfields and the McCoys online. That was our intent. We wanted to give people something to talk about, and Twitter helped us do that.”

Now American Express is making a far more sophisticated use of Twitter, according to GigaOM. The company is allowing card-holding members to sync their credit card to their Twitter account and get merchant offers by including a specific retailer-related hashtag in a tweet. The hashtag results in a discount that is applied to the member’s card. The member gets that discount automatically when making a purchase with the card. It’s like an electronic credit without a coupon. Members can follow @amexsync to get confirmations of offers and find out when offers might expire. Numerous merchants have signed up for the American Express program.

Twitter’s Version of Brand Pages

Just as Facebook has given a facelift to its Pages to make them more brand-friendly, Twitter is on the verge of adding “experiences, including e-commerce, contests and sweepstakes” to the brand landing pages the service introduced in December, according to Advertising Age. The new page format is likely to be made available soon to advertisers who have committed to a certain minimum ad spend on the Twitter network, like American Express, McDonald’s and Nike.

As Advertising Age says, “…the prospect of developing content that’s native to the Twitter experience and using it to drive users to their own pages could make brand pages’ function – and value – clearer to marketers.”

The Social Media Evolution is a Rev(enue)lution

Consider Twitter’s increasing interest in brand advertising as evolutionary if you like, but it may be more practical than evolutionary. As the Bloomberg Businessweek article points out, “In the past, Twitter’s too-cool-for-revenue attitude enhanced its Silicon Valley mystique. … But really it’s jumping headlong into competition for advertisers’ Internet budgets.”

Yup, when you get right down to it, Twitter is following in Facebook’s footsteps – looking to big brand marketers to fill the ad coffers so that all important bottom line looks good.

About Barry Silverstein

Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to, the world’s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.

4 Responses to Twitter Emerges as a Brand Marketing Tool

  1. Judy Caroll says:

    Thanks for this Barry;) I believe Twitter will continue to evolve to give us more exciting and rewarding social media and business experience. 

  2. What was cool about these social networks initially is that there were no ads.  But obviously these sites needed to be monetized somehow.  Now that they know that they’ve “got us”, they can begin to incorporate more advertising.  

  3. I heard about Twitter Brand page. The idea came form the facebook fan page concept. I have tried to make a brand page in TWITTER and found that it is not free. So i don’t think this brand page will be successful as facebook fan page.