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Why We Stopped Running Campaigns on Twitter

By Sander Biehn | Apr 1, 2016

A few months ago we succumbed to the steady stream of Twitter for Business drip-marketing and spent some dough on several Twitter ad campaigns.  We wanted to see for ourselves how effective they were in driving leads and engagement with our corporate buyers.

Many large brands spend top dollar on Twitter to make sure content gets in front of the right eyeballs.  Some of these campaigns can be massive, but we just wanted to boil it down.  We wanted to know just how valuable these Twitter impressions are. Like so many things on social media, the ROI is built in terms marketing quants instead of in terms of new clients and revenue.

Our plan was to figure it out on a micro-level and then extrapolate the overall business value for any company wishing to use Twitter for business marketing regardless of size.

Our Marketing guru ran the campaigns for us. Here are her thoughts on how the campaigns were working out.

What we wanted:

“The objective was to promote Thought Horizon blogs on Twitter. We wanted two things. First, we wanted engagement (likes, replies, comments) on our tweets that promoted the blogs. We expected that interactions on Twitter would grow our follower base as well. Secondly, we wanted to see an increase in website click-through rates from Twitter to the blog site.”

What we did:

“We set the bid maximum CPC (Cost per click) at $4-$5. We wanted quality interactions over quantity. Twitter responded by charging us on average $3 per click.  We were happy about the price break, but we are finding that you get what you pay for. The lower price bids generally do not yield quality leads for us.  This has left us wondering if Twitter is having trouble finding good b2b prospects for us.”

What went down:

“We have seen some counter-intuitive results in several areas:

Impressions. Last month we got 51,000 impressions over 5 days from the campaign we ran. But I am not sure it was worth the money we spent. We estimated that if we spent just a little time per day online without running Twitter ads we could have achieved about the same result.   For example, in December we spent no money on Twitter and were achieving 28,000 organic impressions over 5 days. I am still trying to decide whether it is really worth the money for the additional impressions, especially if Twitter ads aren’t effective in targeting the right audience. And we are talking impressions here! Not clicks or engagements.

Followers. Our follower growth was stagnant throughout each of our campaigns.  This was partially because we did not specify follower growth as an objective with the Twitter campaigns. Go figure. But it doesn’t add up. You’d think that more engagement would lead to more followers. But it doesn’t seem to work that way in the strange world of Twitter.

3rd party validation. When we attempted to validate the click-through’s that Twitter was reporting using Hootsuite and Google analytics, they did not back up the Twitter data. Java-script spoofing notwithstanding, this is still rather disturbing.

Engagement. In spite of the money we spent, we got a minimal number of likes and retweets.  We calculated the cost to be $40 per hard engagement. Twitter likes to tell us that we have had 50 times that in clicks, but really what does that mean? If it doesn’t drive engagement or followers there can only be one of two things going on here:

1) Our Twitter ads stink

2) Twitter ads don’t drive engagement”

From my perspective, I welcome the self-criticism.  But the one thing that haunts me is how this breaks down when you compare it to promotions we’ve run on LinkedIn.  When we compare Twitter to LinkedIn, we get much more engagement for our money on LinkedIn.

The bigger question for us still remains: how can we grow a relevant Twitter community?  The jury is still out on that and for now we have decided to spend our Marketing dollars outside of Twitter.

Maybe if we post the link to our latest blog we can drive more engagement than we did on that Twitter campaign, who knows?