Would you, should you or can you advertise on Twitter?

Although you might not think there was a whole lot of scope for advertising in a medium that only gives you 140 characters to play with, there are a growing number of ways to advertise through Twitter although whether or not they’re actually effective is an entirely different question.

The means for handling the advertising varies quite a bit as you’d expect for a fairly new type of media. For instance, since the tweets themselves are rather fleeting affairs on the tweet streams of the more prolific twitterers, Twittad takes the approach of using the background image to place the main advert and uses the tweet stream to announce that the twitter account is sponsored. The system works in a similar way to blog sponsorship platforms which is to say that you write up a little profile of your twitter account and advertisers can choose you based on that or alternatively you can choose some advertisers. Payout seems to be around the $2.50 a week level which is OK in that you don’t need to do much for that.

Another service that’s possibly more interesting to the advertisers than the twitterers is Twtad which works on the pay per click model. The problem with this one is that the payment is typically 5 cents or less which would be alright for a system that was entirely automated but this system isn’t. Since click-through is typically quite low this system isn’t really worthwhile unless you have LOT of followers (10,000 or more perhaps) and if you have then you should be able to pick up more money elsewhere.

A more comprehensive version of this is Be a Magpie which is an automated service offering pay per view, pay per click, pay per lead and pay per sale. You can set it so that you have to pre-approve tweets but leaving it on automatic seems best and will put a Magpie tweet every 5 ot 10 (you set the interval) of your tweets. All else being equal this one seems by far the best bet for the twitterers in that once it’s set up it can be fully automated. It’s good from the advertisers point of view too in that it offers the four different payment methods.

The latest entrant seems to be Betweeted which I gather operates on the basis of the twitterer choosing advertisers to tweet about so is quite similar to the usual blog sponsorship services. So far it’s only for US bloggers and nobody else can even register to look at how it works.

So, you can advertise via Twitter, but the question is: should you? If you followed the original principles of Twitter ie that it’s a service for “friends, family members and co-workers to stay connected” then the answer is probably not. After all, you wouldn’t hand out advertising leaflets to these people, would you? However, the service has moved a long way from that and most people have followers who are complete strangers and lots of others are tweeting to promote themselves or their business, in which case the answer is: why not? Aside from advertising third parties, more and more companies are moving on to Twitter to promote their products and, of course, there’s always been the self-promotion of bloggers tweeting their posts (some cross-promote their tweets on their blog) so advertising is very much a feature of Twitter that seems here to stay.

Finally, there’s the question of effectiveness of Twitter advertising ie does it actually work? Well, I’ve been tweeting my own blog posts for a while now and it would appear that it’s quite an effective way of gathering new readers for the blog so presumably it would be equally effective for advertising tweets, or at least those that fit in with the general interest of the followers.

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