Marketers are always looking to find the best way to promote their brand full stop. It’s their job after all. As social media picks up the drive toward paid media opportunities, it’s easy to be confused on which avenues to take and where to move your spend.

Today’s session at Social Media Week Chicago, Tweeting Louder – using paid and earned tactics to make noise in the Twittersphere, tried to tackle this topic with Andrea Javor, Director of Digital and Media Strategy with Beam Global (the makers of Jim Beam and Makers Mark), Kristin Walsh, Director of Influencer and Consumer Engagement for FritoLay North America and Brent Hill, the director of the US Central region for Twitter.

There seem to currently be three ways you can promote your brand using twitter:

  1. Promoted Tweets: This function promotes tweets from your handle to the timeline of users who you are targeting or are following a specific hashtag. One step up from that is a paid tweet that acts like an ad. It does not appear in the brand’s stream but will be promoted to your target audience and allows you to change your message depending on the target.
  2. Promoted Trends: The top ten trending topics is based on what people are actually talking about but brands can pay to be above the top 10 for 24 hours at a time. This can be pre-booked like you would for an ad slot so you can reach people on special occasions or in the lead up to the holiday season.
  3. Promoted account: Your profile will be featured in the “Who to Follow” section of the Twitter website and you will be featured in organic search results based on the followers the user is engaging with. This helps target the suggestion to users that may be more likely to follow you.

Brands like Cadbury have seen great results promoting on Twitter but what about the brands on today’s panel?

Beam Global

Beam is the maker of Makers Mark, Jim Bean and many other popular spirits. As a brand, when people tweet them, they are usually on the way to drinking or just have been.  In fact, 60-75% of conversations around their brands happen on Twitter. There is a very positive sentiment amongst its loyal fans but really Beam is looking for consideration from guys who have a choice of brands at the bar. 

Two years ago, Beam Global, like many other brands, invested 0 dollars and 0 amount of time.  Once it had a listening operation up and running, the team began to know the value Twitter could bring to the company. With the leadership team supportive of digital space at Beam, it has a 24 hour loop of content and interaction. 50% of its traditional media spend is in the digital space and it continues to invest 30% on TV. For Beam, it needs to do both and continue to look to understanding how social compliments all its customer touch points.

Beam believes organic growth is key but you need to go beyond that. Promoted tweets are the most scalable and targeted. You can use interest targeting now so Beam can rbut its message in front of people who are inclined to be interested in that content. For instance, this year Beam tapped into the election year with a spot on TV and YouTube promoting the Cocktail Party (a party people could back instead of the Republicans or the Democrats). They advertised #CocktailParty2012 as a Promoted Trend for August 31, the day before the RNC. They received 42 million impressions, 30 times the amount of retweets they normally receive and five times the daily brand mention.

The huge problem facing alcohol brands on Twitter is the regulated drinking age and this effects campaigns and using Twitter’s promoted functions. These are very difficult waters to tread as there is no age requirement for people signing up to Twitter. 

To help the drinks industry, Twitter introduced an Age Gate in the last year or so. When a user follows a drinks company like Makers Mark, for instance, they get a DM saying they have 24 hours to verify their age or they will not be able to follow. The drop off rate for Beam is 1/3 due to the Age Gate but they are following all regulations by using it. 

Hill commented that a database is being developed that will allow users to not have to reverify every time they follow an Age Gated brand and then brands ail be able to recontact dropped users in future. 


The main handle for Fritolay acts as the portfolio for the company and contains broader content (including info from Pepsi and sister companies). It is fairly neutral with a corporate voice whereas individual brands like Doritos is much more bold and Sunchips is light hearted and laid back. 

At the moment, Fritolay is more focused at organic growth. It is key to reach the right audience and it is taking a modest and moderate approach. At offline functions, the team promotes Fritolay’s various Twitter handles and been having Twitter parties online with 3 – 12 million impressions for each hour long virtual party.

Social media is becoming more and more a priority as a brand especially as they being to see more return on investment. It is now at the tipping point for paid and promoted to come into play as the company continues to extend the physical experience into the digital world with a social call placed on all of their materials.

Our experience with promoted Tweets

At Econsultancy, we like to share our experiences where we can about what we do ourselves so we’ll share our experiences. I was able to impart some wisdom from our Social Media Manager, Matt Owen, and his experience with promoted trends and tweets.

We used twitter promoted tweets and spent just under $20K. Over a period of 8 months, this gave us 39,000 new followers (works out to around 66 cents per follower) and made us about $70K which is not a bad return. 

For us, big numbers gained through ad spend aren’t always good for us as we want to maintain an engaged community on Twitter who relate to our content. The churn is fairly high though and is even worse if you don’t target effectively. The big problem is that there’s not an effective way to separate bought from organic followers. 

If you don’t super, super target, you can burn through your cash. For instance, when we first turned on promoted tweets, we zipped through $300 in 20 minutes. Yikes! So no putting in ‘social media’ as a keyword anyone.

You can also geo-target your promoted tweets. It’s a bit more sophisticated in the US as you can target at city level in the US but can only target by country elsewhere. 

The one thing Matt commented on as being both “cool and nefarious,” is that you can bid on competitor @names. We recently had promoted tweets from a marketing school in New York showing up in searches for our brand name. They were obviously targeting our brand but didn’t appear to have geo-targeted so were wasting their money.

One brand who hijacked somewhat successfully (it appears) is Samsung with the recent iPhone 5 launch.  Basically if a user is searching for iPhone or Apple, you would also see a promoted tweet from Samsung at the top and it backed the campaign up with TV and YouTube ads (which were shown during the recent Emmy broadcast). 

A bold (and probably extremely expensive) move, this gave them more eyeballs to a phone hungry audience than any other method would at that time. Now that iPhone launches are becoming an event in themselves, this could help the competition jump on the back of it. This works for vanity searches too if you want to target specific brands monitoring themselves through Tweetdeck, etc.

One important note to those of you looking to try promoted Tweets. You need to change your promoted tweets daily, otherwise you have to ramp up the cash to remain effective. This requires a lot of hands on management and tweaking so you will need a dedicated resource to handle this. You CAN get a great return (not to say you WILL though!)

Unfortunately, when we went to renew our contract, Twitter pushed our minimum monthly up to a level which we just couldn’t justify a return on, as we were concentrating on cherry picking people rather than going for a wide audience. The pricing is definitely going to make promoting anything through Twitter out of the price range of most SMBs and leaves the playing field open only to the big Brands who have the cash to burn….ahem…I mean invest.