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Align with existing audiences

A great way to reach targeted audiences at scale on Twitter is to target paid social ad campaigns to followers of relevant publications, companies (even competitors), topics, or interests that match your key demographics. People who follow these categories or companies already have some easily identifiable characteristics that map to your brand messages, so they will likely be interested in your campaigns and offers. In effect, you piggyback your campaign on existing Twitter interest groups — reaching the right targets without having to get people to necessarily follow your brand.

For example, Mercedes might want to reach affluent, urban, active men and could target a paid social stream campaign to followers of @Forbes, @CNBC, @GQMagazine, and @CarAndDriver. It might also target followers of @BMW, @Lexus, @TheNorthFace, @CondeNaste, @Aspen, @skiing, and @RitzCarlton to broaden the reach of the campaign.

Political candidates and causes can also use this tactic to great effect. For example, Mitt Romney might be looking to target fiscally conservative voters living in California. His advertising managers might decide to run a paid social stream campaign targeting followers of topics such as @CAPensionReform, @CABudget, and @CAPolitics.

Another example might be that Pampers wants to reach hip, socially conscious, urban moms with news of the launch of a new line of chemical-free baby products. The brand could target followers of @BurtsBees, @ParkSlopeParent, @MomFilter, @CaliforniaBaby, and @MotheringMag.

The key to aligning your paid social stream campaigns to existing Twitter audiences is to identify brands, topics, or themes that your key audience likely already follows, and then target your campaigns to the followers of people who are influential on those topics. This way, instead of reaching only your own followers with a regular tweet, you reach a much wider base of people who might not yet follow your brand, but are squarely in your key demographic.

Activate connected fans

To extend the reach of a paid social stream campaign, make sure it gets in front of connected fans. These Twitter users are active sharers — spreading ideas, offers, and messages among their own followers and people aligned with their interest graph. If you get your paid campaign in front of influencers, they’ll spread your messages for you — and bring them to many more people than you originally targeted. What’s more, connected fans amplify your message — because when they retweet or share it, your message seems more relevant and personal. Connected fans are seen by their followers as trusted experts and advisors, so when they recommend your brand message, it feels more authentic than when it comes directly from the advertiser.

For example, Microsoft might target a campaign for a new version of its Office suite to all the Twitter users who engaged with a previous Office ad campaign. It might extend the campaign to the fans who most often tweet about Microsoft, and/or target people who follow @Windows, @TechNet, as well as well-known Windows and Microsoft bloggers.

Just as experts tend to speak a little “inside baseball” with their pet topics, so do connected fans respond more than the average person to nuanced content. For a campaign targeting connected fans of Microsoft Office, ad creative can tell more of the Microsoft story, even including quotes from or images of Microsoft notables like Steve Ballmer. Provide content of value — the kind of content that connected fans would themselves share with their audiences.

To get connected fans to share your campaigns, some incentives that work include offering people who retweet your messages a certain number of times a free product or service, inviting those who spread your campaign the most to a special VIP event, or launching a contest for your brand’s “biggest fan” that rewards the most active sharers with prizes.

For Burger King’s “King of the Road” campaign, CP+B teamed up with Mindshare to bring the King’s epic journey to BK’s biggest fans, informally known as “fast food superfans,” in the Twitter ecosystem. The King crossed the country, adventuring with fans and awarding Xbox Kinect bundles to the most worthy. BK’s ad creative changed daily as the King’s location changed, broadcasting clues to his next stop on the tour. Paid social drove an increase of 4,000 followers for The King’s Twitter account.

 

Own an event

Twitter activity explodes around large events — the Super Bowl, the Oscars, the Olympics, big concerts, holidays, and more. During the 2012 Super Bowl, consumers sent over 13 million Super Bowl-related tweets — compared to fewer than 2 million last year. Millions more tweets about the Super Bowl happened before and after the event. Brands pay millions of dollars for 30-second commercials during the Super Bowl for one main reason — because millions of people are watching the game. But smart brands now realize that “watching the game” no longer means just staring at a TV screen. Millions of people used Twitter and other social streams on their mobile devices and tablets to engage with fans near and far during the Super Bowl. In fact, most large-scale events today have a real-time social stream component. People don’t just watch an event on TV, they read and post tweets during the televised event.

To get maximum impact for your paid social campaign, consider targeting the mega-audiences following a key event before, during, and after the big day. For example, Chevrolet spent big to buy paid social stream ads targeting all Twitter users following @superbowl and @nfl for 48 hours. And by utilizing video placements in social apps, users had more opportunities to see Chevy’s Super Bowl commercials than any other advertiser who paid the $3.5 million price tag for a spot. With this “play big” strategy, Chevrolet emerged as the “Social Media Brand Champion” of the 2012 Super Bowl, attaining the highest mindshare on social media of all the brands that advertised during the game.

These all-out campaigns aim to boost your brand’s share of voice during major events, dominating the conversations taking place. If you buy up a large share of ad inventory related to the event, you’ll edge out your competitors.

If you want to own an event on Twitter, here are some key tips to make it work. Research the event — be sure your team knows roughly what’s going to happen, in what order, and with whom. Well beforehand, use ads to invite the audience to share plans and thoughts around the event. Your pre-event campaign can include links to “how to get ready” blog posts or color commentary on pre-event tweets by stars. To increase interest in your ads, use graphics that extend the brand’s identity to match the event. Flight the campaign with up to a two-week lead, maximizing share of voice during the event broadcast. And for weekend events, time a second burst of impressions for Monday morning to shape “water cooler conversations” in social.

 

Link to the “second screen” in real-time

TV viewing is rapidly changing. People don’t just plunk down on the sofa and watch an entire broadcast from start to finish with rapt attention. The majority of TV watchers today also have a tablet, smartphone, or internet-connected laptop nearby while they’re watching TV. These smaller devices are the “second screen” connected to the TV viewing experience — allowing TV viewers to interact with other viewers in real-time, get up-to-the-minute plot analyses or game scores, and share their opinions of characters, actions, or plays with other fans as the show is happening. People interact on the second screen with apps of all kinds — downloadable apps, websites, niche fan social sites, and Facebook. But the most widely used tool for second-screen interaction is Twitter.

Twitter transforms “watching TV” into a social experience, allowing viewers to chat with friends and fellow fans during a program. Twitter also adds an exciting dimension to TV, providing viewers with real-time commentary on every dramatic twist or stellar play as it happens.

A great way to stretch your paid social campaign dollars is to target TV fans in real-time, since many viewers keep one eye on their Twitter feed and one eye on the TV screen. For example, Victoria’s Secret might launch a paid social campaign targeting @GleeOnFox, @Gleeks, and @GossipGirl to supplement its commercial buy during those programs.

With this type of campaign, real-time optimization is critical. Considering that during the Super Bowl,12,000 tweets were sent per second, it’s critical that any paid advertising effort on Twitter be real-time to take advantage of constantly shifting conversations as events unfold. Did a favorite character just die? A star-crossed couple finally got together? Adapt your paid social campaigns in real-time, changing creative on the fly to match what’s happening on the screen.

The messages you use in your paid social campaigns should tie directly into “fan language” and the real-time events happening on screen. “Did Serena really just kiss him? At least you can get her look with Maybelline.” “It’s a touchdown for New York! Now go grab a Bud!”

Of course, you’ve got to set up a real-time “war room” to adapt your campaigns on the fly. You’ll need up to two writers committed to writing about what’s happening now and anticipating what’s coming up. Their main goal? Enlighten and entertain the Twitter audience by giving a fresh perspective in the brand’s voice. A third person can monitor paid placements, reviewing share and click performance so that the writers can optimize for messages that work.

In the week beforehand, tell your audience that you’ll be live-tweeting, and build interest by asking your followers to share their plans around the event. Research the event — be sure you know roughly what’s going to happen, in what order, and with whom. To increase excitement, use a special Twitter icon for the duration of the event, perhaps your brand’s logo combined with the event name or using the signature colors of the event. Tweet fairly often as the event begins, increasing in frequency when the event’s excitement peaks. Be interesting — commit to enlightening or entertaining your audience. When the event is over, send a note of thanks.

The paid social campaign supporting Infiniti’s sponsorship of the Emmys won Infiniti 1,000 retweets for a simple congratulatory tweet for the Best Actor Emmy, largely because Infiniti’s message was seen first by the most people.

Twitter users are some of the most engaged, passionate consumers out there today — sharing content they love and discovering new information based on their self-defined interest graphs. Brands want to insert themselves authentically into this organic, fast-moving conversation, and with a little ingenuity, and the right social ad platform partner, brands can start reaching the right audiences on Twitter to build high-impact recall and affinity.