What’s the ROI on a Tweet Ad?

I first wrote this post for the Media Two blog Media Two Point {oh!}. They’ve been awesome enough to let me repost it here.

Here we go again. A few days ago we got the news that Facebook will be offering Sponsored Stories – news feed highlights turned into sidebar ads. Today, Twitter launched Tweet ads paid for by business to go out as tweets in a user’s stream that may not even follow the brand. Right now, they’re only showing up to users on HootSuite, but will presumably permeate to all outlets in the future.

You’d think with my stance on Sponsored Stories, I’d be down with Tweet ads. Currently, I’m on the fence. As a marketer, I like the targeting aspect. It will give brands a chance to reach potential customers and followers knowing that those users are interested in their product or service. AdAge gives this example:

someone who follows other coffee companies or who follows people who write about coffee would be a target candidate for a Starbucks-paid Tweet.

I can see how that would be good for Starbucks. They can connect with more coffee lovers who will potentially buy more coffee from Starbucks. But I also know that the life of a Tweet can be about 30 seconds depending on how many people each user is following. How many of these paid tweets will be seen? Is the ratio good enough to pay for it? For Starbucks where each customer probably has a huge lifetime value, maybe. For others, maybe not.

As a Twitter user, I think this could be annoying–assuming that I see them at all. I may be a social media strategist, but I don’t stare at my TweetDeck all day to catch every tweet that goes by. If I do see them, at first I will probably feel like Twitter has taken away my choice of who to follow. Not only are these tweets from brands I may not be following, but they probably won’t offer me anything but a push message.

One of the top 5 rules of not being annoying on Twitter is to offer something useful to your followers rather than push messaging about yourself. So I’m wondering how many ads will be sent to the same person.

The CEO says they will “test, test, test” so I suppose they’ll figure out the sweet spot with a little trial and error. However, I anticipate that however we feel about tweet ads now, we’ll get used to them eventually as a part of the platform. Just like we eventually accept all the things Facebook does that we may initially see as a privacy breech.

What are your thoughts on tweet ads?

Photo by JoshSemans