Many companies have been eyeing Twitter as a way to market themselves among the many savvy UK consumers who use the micro-blogging service on a regular basis. Until recently, this has been limited to using Twitter as a social media site, a way of disseminating information to the masses. However, the path to commercial success via Twitter has up until been unclear. This is about to change with Twitter implementing a new commercial strategy that will allow companies to actively market themselves through the popular website.
Twitter already has big names lining up to advertise through the micro-blog, with potential paid advertisers as diverse as Lloyds Banking Group and Virgin Media. The company plans to begin with a relatively simple model of sponsored advertisements on search results similar to those used by media giant Google. These ads will be text only and use Twitter’s familiar 140-character word limit. The plan is to keep sponsored results separate from organic ones and to reduce the use of graphics and logo design so as to minimize impinging on the Twitter experience that has become so popular. These steps are likely to preserve the integrity of the website, which is even better for advertisers despite the limitations.
While Lloyds and Virgin are eager to tie their name and logo design with the popular website, other brands are not convinced. Honda UK has stated that they want to wait and see what volume the ads produce and how relevant the exposure is. Other UK companies seem reluctant to be among the first Twitter advertisers. However, if Virgin and Lloyds consider their Twitter marketing experience to be successful, it is likely that many major brands will be following their example.
This move may seem like a huge step for a largely uncommercial site, but it has been in the works for about a year and a half, since larger brands began using Twitter as a marketing tool. Twitter has not yet released the details of their programme, such as whether they will adopt a pay-per-click model similar to that of Google or have a strategy unique to the website. However, the brand has promised to work with advertisers and marketing agencies to develop a system that is satisfactory to everyone involved without annoying or frustrating their loyal fan base.
Whatever the new model will be, there is immense marketing potential in any website as busy and popular as Twitter. The site is among the top in its field, having pulled in 73.5 million new users in January 2010 alone, both from the UK and the rest of the planet. This represents an almost constant increase in users since the website opened, growth that is sure to continue in the future. Another thing to consider is that many Twitter users see the brand as relatively uncommercial and highly trustworthy. These users may initially see Twitter ads a highly authentic and perhaps even as an endorsement from the website itself. This makes getting in on the ground floor of Twitter advertisement a highly attractive option for companies all over the UK.