Small businesses look for bump from new Twitter ads

Krystal Peak · March 26, 2012 · Short URL:

American Express cements its partnership with Twitter to help promote small businesses

Big brands looking to find new ways to utilize Twitter in new and exciting ways are watching the newly cemented partnership that the microblogging company has forged with American Express to see if there are more opportunities to meld deals with publicity. 

Twitter announced Monday morning the debut of its new program to promote small businesses, which was originally announced last month.

As of Monday, American Express merchants and cardholders will be alerted to Twitter’s new advertising opportunities, which were kicked off by a related promotion in which the first 10,000 card members and merchants received $100 in free Twitter ads.

Initially, only a small group of businesses had access to this new advertising opportunity but Twitter stated in a blog post that the company "will steadily increase the number of participating small businesses over the coming weeks."

Today, those first 10,000 will be notified that they can get started in building their ad campaigns to, hopefully, gain traction on Twitter. For Twitter users, this result in you seeing more ads from smaller businesses, brands and chains. So expect some new names in your promoted tweets and trends.

This SMB program is starting off small and advertisers participating in the program will have access to all of Twitter’s promoted products, which will allow them to promote their Twitter accounts, place promotions and messages in Twitter feeds and promote tweets which will appear at the top of Twitter searches.

AmEx continues a strong Twitter strategy

Earlier this month, American Express started a campaign to offer tweeters deals at their favorite retail locations.  The discount AmEx promotion helped all those Twitter users that have been singing the praises of their favorite companies without any retribution.

The campaign partnered AmEx with more than a dozen retailers to bring exclusive Twitter discounts for people that message about the given brands -- as long as they use their Amex card, of course.

This new service asks that Amex card holders signup online to connect their credit card to their Twitter account and when they enter specific hashtags, they get automatic discounts or coupons automatically credited to their statement within 3 days of purchasing products at that retailer.

So, if I link my twitter handle to my Amex card and I tweet and include the hashtag #AmexWholefoods then the next time I spend more than $75 at Whole Foods I will see a $20 credit on my credit card statement. That sounds great for my wallet, maybe not so great for my Twitter persona.

This new marketing experiment is an interesting turn of the tables on what Twitter was in its infancy: a honest expression of ideas to the world. As certain tweeters gained more influence, brands started reaching out to people and offering them deals on products and services -- but these offers only went to the most followed personalities. Now it appears that everyone could get in on the kickbacks, but at what cost?

But this angle could be a slight push to offer coupons in a whole new way -- without all that paper and searching. Even though this campaign couldn't be a push to gain the most influential tweeters, there is a value to the sheer volume of average tweeters using a pre-set hashtag and later tracking the sentiment and analytics of who and where people are as they write this advertisement.

Other marketing campaigns, such as those used by the influence tracker Klout, only offer goods and services to those with substantial followings in niche markets. 

Brands included in this new marketing offer are Whole Foods, H&M, Virgin America, FedEx and Cheesecake Factory.

American Express already has 97 million existing card holders and could very-well attract new customers if this campaign entices thirty shoppers. 

For Twitter, this launch could also be yet another way to monetize the micro-blogging service and will likely try to partner-up with more credit cards to build standard analytics and practices for such campaigns. 

Businesses that have not yet signed up to participate can check out the application, and will be alerted when the opportunity expands further.

Twitter is telling companies that they can get started in minutes, that it is as easy as tweeting and it can be used to target specific geographies or reach people worldwide.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.