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How to run a Twitter ad campaign. Part 1: the basics

Tips for using Twitter’s paid marketing features to complement your business’s organic activity.

  • By: Graham Lee
  • Date: July 19, 2018
  • Posted in: Twitter
How to run a Twitter ad campaign. Part 1: the basics

While a lot of your business’s Twitter marketing will be done organically, or with the help of other services (some paid-for, some free), there may come a time when you wish to allocate some budget to extending a campaign’s reach as far and wide as possible.

With its ad-supported business, Twitter is obviously keen to work with you to achieve this aim, and the good news for small business and marketers is that it’s easy to do so. You don’t need to connect directly to an advertising executive; instead, Twitter has a number of self-serve tools that you can use to bring both your brand and specific campaigns to the attention of others. How does this work?

“If you can Tweet, you can advertise on Twitter,” says Twitter product manager Ravi Narasimhan. “All you need is a Twitter account and a credit card. You’re in control of your ads, the audience you want to reach, and of course your budget. Best of all, you will only be charged when people follow your Promoted Account or retweet, reply, favorite or click on your Promoted Tweets. You are never charged for your organic Twitter activity.”

Twitter campaigns

Twitter advertising is now offered as objective-based campaigns, which allows you to create tightly focussed campaigns that align perfectly with your objectives.

Each campaign is governed by a custom workflow aligned to that campaign’s goals. Currently there are five types of objective-based campaign available:

  • Followers: this campaign is akin to the old ‘Promoted Accounts’ campaign, and is designed to make your account more visible to others on Twitter, with the aim of boosting your number of followers.
  • Website clicks or conversions: this campaign is tailored to drive traffic to your website.
  • Tweet engagements: this type of campaign is designed to help you reach more people and generate conversation.
  • App installs or app engagements: this campaign will drive people to install or use your mobile app.
  • Leads on Twitter: this campaign encourages users to pass on their email having expressed an interest in your brand or business.
  • Custom: should none of these fit your campaign, you can create a custom campaign using the old Promoted Tweets form.

Once you’ve selected a campaign, you’ll be given control over the following:

Timings: Campaigns can be configured to start immediately, or you can set specific start and end dates.

Ad formats: Each campaign will come with its own recommended ad format – either a Tweet or a specific Card, which you then fill in. Here’s what you’ll get based on your choice of campaign:

Targeted audience

Twitter campaigns let you target specific accounts using one of a number of methods:

  • Keywords: simply target people using up to 1,000 keywords (you can also apply a filter to remove Tweets where those keywords have been used negatively).
  • Television: this allows you to target your Tweets so they appear during TV broadcasts at those people who are actively Tweeting about the show they’re currently watching.
  • Interests and followers: you can select specific @usernames to have your campaigns directed at similar users, plus broaden the remit to include specific interests or target specific locations. New features also allow you to limit your targeting too, by excluding ‘tailored audiences’, or targeting specific devices or platform, gender and languages.
  • Tailored audiences: you can specify exactly who you want your campaign to reach by uploading a contacts list or by collecting visitors, downloaders or customers from specific websites by inserting code snippets.

Additional filters

You can further refine your campaign using a number of exclusion filters:

  • Customise where Promoted Tweets appear: select this to target specific areas, such as user timelines or search results.
  • Exclude tailored audiences: this works as for ‘Tailored audiences’ above, except in this instance you want to exclude these people from your campaign, not actively target them.
  • Devices and platforms: use this option to restrict your ads to one or more specific platforms from a choice of iOS, Android, desktop, Blackberry and mobile web on other devices. When tailoring for iOS and Android you can go further, targeting specific devices only, or excluding those running older versions of the operating system.
  • Gender: target males or females only should your campaign demand it.
  • Language: if necessary, you can restrict your campaigns to a specific language, so – for example – only English speakers see the Tweet.

Advertising costs

Twitter ads are auction-based – there’s no set price for the engagements or new followers that you acquire. Instead, you specify a maximum amount you’re willing to pay for each action required, which equates to your bid. On top of this, you retain complete control over your overall spend – you can set either a total budget for the campaign, or set a daily limit – when either is reached, the campaign stops serving ads until you either increase the budget or the next day rolls around.

Set up your Twitter Ad account

Your entire Twitter advertising experience will take place through your own personal Twitter Ads Centre. Here’s how to get your ad account up and running, plus start your first campaign:

  1. Sign in

Open the Twitter Ad page at and click the ‘Sign in with Twitter’ button. When prompted, enter your Twitter account username and password and click ‘Sign in’.

  1. Enter regional details

Select your country from the ‘Set a permanent country’ drop-down menu – this ensures you’re billed in the current currency and pay the correct taxes. The timezone will be set according to your choice, but you can change this via the ‘Set a permanent time zone’ menu. Note the warning – this is a one-time setting, and you won’t be able to change it later, so be sure you’ve set everything correctly before clicking ‘Permanently save these settings’.

  1. Set up credit card

You’ll next be prompted to set your first campaign objective – we’ll cover this later, so for now, click your profile name in the top right-hand corner of the page and choose ‘Set up credit card payment’ to link a credit card to your account.

  1. Enter tax status

First, select your tax status – a choice between ‘Business’ and ‘Personal’. Select ‘Business’ to prevent your account automatically being subject to VAT charges. Enter your company name and address, then answer the questions about whether or not you have a VAT ID (you’ll need to enter this if the answer is yes), and if you’re an agency acting on someone else’s behalf. Click ‘Save tax information’ to continue.

  1. Supply payment details

Now enter your credit card details. Finally, click ‘Twitter Advertising Terms’ to familiarise yourself with the dos and don’ts of advertising on Twitter and click ‘Proceed to confirmation’. Verify the details are correct – click ‘Modify card details’ if they’re not – and click ‘Save and launch campaign’.

  1. Add contact details

The final step is to supply a phone number for contact purposes, plus select your Industry from the drop-down menu, which will help better target your campaigns. You cannot skip this step, so enter the details and click ‘Save’.

Share account with others

Your Twitter Ads account is designed to allow more than one user to access and – if applicable – administer it. To configure more users, click your name at the top of the page and choose ‘Edit access to account’.

Click Add more users… and enter the Twitter @username of the person you’d like to grant access to. Once done, grant them one of three levels of access:

  • Account Administrator: this provides them with exactly the same levels of control and access as you, including the ability to add/remove other users. Not recommended unless you really trust someone.
  • Ad Manager: users with this level of access can modify campaigns and view data.
  • Analyst: this level gives users access to view analytics, but no ability to view campaigns.

There’s also an option to grant the selected user permission to create new Promoted-only Tweets for use in campaigns. Once added, you can edit a person’s access or remove them from the same dashboard.

In the second part of this series of blog posts about Twitter ad campaigns, we take a more detailed look at the Twitter Ads Centre.