Twitter finally unveils ads in the stream

It’s a sign of the times how cautious Twitter has been about pushing ads into its network, but starting sometime this March, the ads will come. “Promoted tweets” will begin flowing into the stream of comments from each person you follow, putting ad messages front, center, and in a place you can’t ignore — sort of like most traditional advertising.

Twitter says the promoted tweets will provide four types of customer response, which it calls “engagement”: clicks on a link, similar to web banner ads; retweets, in which other users mention the tweet; “@” replies, in which a user replies to the company tweeting; and “favorites,” where a user bookmarks the tweet for later reference. Twitter also provides an analytics dashboard to help marketers optimize how their messages are promoted inside Twitter. The service has been tested since Nov. 1 on the HootSuite social media dashboard, and Twitter says adverse reaction from users there was minimal.

The video above is worth a view not just to see how the advertising works, but also for Twitter’s recommendations on how to be a compelling voice inside the tweetstream. Be humanly funny. Be an active participant in the community. Let others see a real legitimate two-way presence. In other words, try not to sound like an ad.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

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