In 2017 Twitter launched their new $99 a month “promote mode” paid advertising feature which automated the promotion of your Tweets. Is it worth the money? Probably not…

I was excited when Twitter launched promote mode. I hate messing around with ads, I just want the content I produce to be seen by relevant people. The promise that for $99 a month Twitter would do the work to target my Tweets at the right people and increasing my reach (and as a result my following) was therefore incredibly appealing. In fact it turned out to be an expensive pain in the ass.

Problems with Twitter promote mode

The biggest issue I encountered was that you have no control over the Tweets that Twitter decides to promote. If you are running a Twitter account that is anything more than a tedious feed of content from your website, you’ll find that Tweets are being promoted that it makes absolutely no sense to share with a wider audience without any context. This means that your feed turns in to a personality-free stream of links to blog posts or sales and nothing else. Surely this isn’t what Twitter want? It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand or an individual, a worthwhile Twitter feed needs to have some kind of life to it, something that would make people want to follow it. Limiting your content to basically a 21st century version of an RSS feed is a massive step backwards. Forgetting I had it enabled at one point, I Tweeted a photo of my new baby. My followers know me and had known for a long time that the baby was coming, so I was letting them know. But the wider world doesn’t need or want to know that. If I saw a promoted Tweet that was just a photo of a baby I’d be confused, and predictably other people were as well. Why can’t I say that I do not want certain Tweets to be promoted? It would be an easy setting and would make the service at least partially usable.

The next problem is that for the cost, you don’t get much. The increase in followers is far smaller than you’d get by using one of the many Twitter auto-follow services out there. I know those services are against the rules (so don’t risk using them on accounts you care about), but they are cheap and they work far better at building an audience of people than the official Twitter service does. For $99 a month I expect to see some serious engagement, not a slight increase in views.

Then, finally, we come to the ongoing problem with American social media services. Use any language that would be unsuitable for a 5 year old and they immediately inform you that you’re no longer able to use promote mode. Thankfully I’d already stopped using it for the reasons above, but using language suitable for adults should be fine on an account followed by adults. I know my audience. If Twitter don’t want to promote specific language in a promoted Tweet then I can understand that so don’t promote that specific Tweet, but don’t try to infantilise the whole world by demanding that an entire feed is completely vanilla. I’m selling watches not trying to flog porn, so it’s not like the content was anything obscene or controversial.

What does Twitter promote mode get right?

Not much. It’s easy to set up and start using it I guess. But don’t.

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