Twitter’s Big Week

Posted: April 17, 2010 in Entertainment, Research, Social Media, Social Network, Websites
Tags: , , ,

All the social media blogs were crammed full of articles about Twitter this week. On Tuesday, Twitter launched its new advertising strategy called Promoted Tweets. According to the Twitter website, users now see tweets that promote their partner advertisers at the top of some Twitter.com search results pages.  Twitter promises their users that these sponsored tweets will be clearly labeled as “promoted” when an advertiser is paying, and that only one Promoted Tweet will be displayed on each search results page. Users can also Reply and ReTweet the Promoted Tweets like regular ones.

But as Mashable asked on April 14, 2010, the million dollar question is ‘will Twitter users click on the Promoted Tweets?’ The article said that “Twitter’s new ad platform will begin by charging per thousand impressions, but will eventually switch to a model that the company calls “resonance.” Essentially, a sponsored tweet gains points based on factors such as retweets, favorites, impressions, and clicks. Combined, this resonance score will tell Twitter whether or not an advertisement is performing, which will affect its longevity and its price.”

I think that the actual message of these Promoted Tweets is going to be the key to their success. If it looks like an ad and smells like an ad, then Twitter users are going to know it’s an ad and stay away. And, if the message from the sponsor is the same message over several days, then it’s going to be deadly. For example, Starbucks has had the same Promoted Tweet on the site since the service launched on Tuesday, April 17, 2010. It is now Saturday, April 17, 2010, and it’s the same message:

Starbucks: another day in the cupping room … Our coffee quality team tastes thousands of cups a year to ensure quality. http://yfrog.com/2gbb6xj 3:01 PM Apr 9th via Tweetie from Industrial District East, Seattle

Starbucks should know better – this is going to be a glaring sign to Twitter users that this is an ad, especially to their core customers who regularly search Starbucks on Twitter.  Starbucks should definitely be posting a new tweet each day. They can still send the same basic message, but they should change the message copy, so like everything else on Twitter, it’s new and fresh.

Another Twitter development this week was that silence was finally broken about the number of accounts on Twitter. According to an article posted on CNN.com, co-founder Biz Stone said Twitter now has more than 105 million registered users. He made the announcement at Twitter’s Chirp conference for developers on Wednesday, April 14, 2010. It marked the first time Twitter has announced its number of accounts. Stone also said that his company is adding 300,000 accounts per day, with much of its growth coming outside the United States. This is not surprising since last fall, Twitter launched sites in Spanish, French and Italian.

I think that the most interesting point is that in addition to 105 million users, Twitter says that they also have 180 million unique visitors to Twitter.com. But according to an article on TechCrunch, the latest comScore numbers said that Twitter attracted 79.4 million unique visitors worldwide in March 2010, a 316% increase from a year ago. ComScore lists Twitter as the 30th largest site in the world, bigger than Craigslist, Sony Online and Expedia.

The reason for the discrepancy is that comScore is only measuring activity on Twitter.com. Twitter says that 75% of all Twitter activity occurs outside their website via third-party desktop and mobile clients. TechCrunch says that if the site indeed has 180 million uniques then it would rank as the 11th largest site on comScore. Given the large number of third-party clients, it’s probably nearly impossible to determine an accurate number of unique users. But we can probably all agree that whatever the true number is, it’s a much bigger number than anyone thought it was.

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