Promoted Tweets Are They Worth The Money?

Twitter recently announced that they now have their version of paid search which they are calling “Promoted Tweets”. I am sure most people have read about these by now so I won’t bore you with details on how they work.  (But, if you’d like to read more check out this post on Social Media B2B.

At first I was really excited about Promoted Tweets and tried to think of which clients we have that could benefit from this. And then it hit me – does anyone actually use the search feature?

I began reading more about how the Promoted Tweets would only show on a search results page and will ultimately disappear if users do not interact with the Tweet.  Interesting concept- but will it work?

(Disclaimer: I don’t research Twitter for a living and I don’t know the stats of who does what when they are Tweeting away – so this is all just my opinion.)

I evaluated how real people actually use Twitter.com (Important to note this was a VERY small audience I evaluated in lieu of timing, mainly myself and a few close Tweeps). I’m 99% positive that in the past year or so that I have had a Twitter account, that I have never used the search future to find information, other than today, which was solely for the purpose of this blog. I have used it however when I want to mention someone I am following in my tweet and I forget what their @ name is. Plus – don’t most people update their Tweets from their phone and third party apps (I personally prefer the Twitter Gadget on my iGoogle-which doesn’t allow you to search)?

So I decided to do a little test and think like a consumer on Twitter. One company that is testing the Promoted Tweets is Starbucks and I know that today they are giving away free coffee to anyone that brings in a reusable mug (go green) for “Tax Day Freebies:”. I know this because I love coffee, I am a fan of them on Facebook and I follow them on Twitter (no judgments necessary).

My Theory:

The common Tweep/Twit/Twitterer/Tweeter/Micro-blogger does not use the Twitter search feature to search for products, etc. So as this “Promoted Tweets” is a good idea – I ultimately think it will fail to bring any actual value to the advertiser.

My Test- Starbucks:

I thought about terms that a consumer of Starbucks and Coffee in general would search for and entered these keywords in the Search bar on my Twitter.com page. Since today is free coffee day my focus is on those types of keywords

Search #1:

I went for the obvious “Starbucks” and discovered my first Promoted Tweet! Wahoo! Success.

Search #2:

My next search was for “Free Coffee.” No Promoted Tweet here- but plenty of free WOM advertising going on! Success? Maybe not for Starbucks – wouldn’t this be opportune time to promote their “Free Coffee” day?

Search #3:

Keyword: “Coffee.” Promoted Tweet- Success, kinda. Most “natural” Tweets were about people spilling their coffee or needing more coffee to get through the day- so Starbucks paying to show up here is a little silly, right?

Search #4”

Keyword: “Coffee Deals,” Promoted Tweet- Success. Again, Why not tailor the message to promote the “Free Coffee” Day?

My Conclusion: Out of the 4 terms I tested the only ones I believe people (if anyone would do a search like this on Twitter) would actually search for are “free coffee” and “coffee deals”- So, Starbucks gets a 50% for the day from me (I’ll ignore the fact that the Promoted Tweets showing failed to mention the “Free coffee”).

The Promoted Tweet thing may work or it may not- only time can tell. In my opinion- it’s a waste of advertising dollars in a space where most of the chatter about your brand is free (and hopefully positive), and if the people really want to know about what you have to say they are:

1. Already following you on Twitter or

2. They will find you in the trending topics along with Justin Bieber and what’s #nowplaying.

Again this is purely my opinion, so what do you think?

Has anyone tested this, got results and it has generated a positive ROI for the advertiser?