Five tips for using Twitter’s keyword targeting in timeline

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Since we launched keyword targeting in timeline, we’ve learned some useful techniques from advertisers who use it to reach the right people in the right moment. Here are five ways to use this feature to make your Twitter campaigns more effective.

Tip 1: Use what you’ve learned from search, but don’t stop there.

If you’re familiar with search marketing, many Twitter keyword targeting best practices won’t surprise you. For example, you can match keywords as a phrase, as a series of words in any order, or with broadening to similar terms. And it’s best to set up multiple campaigns that target tightly-themed groups of keywords.

When people enter a query into a search engine, they know they’re talking to a machine. In contrast, when they Tweet a keyword, they know they’re talking to people. So, while you should test keywords from your search campaigns on Twitter, you’ll probably also need to identify some keywords especially for use on Twitter.

Suppose your company sells baby clothes. Your phrase-matched “boy infant clothes” keyword from your search campaigns is unlikely to reach many users on Twitter, because people don’t Tweet that way. Why not instead reach an interested audience by trying a keyword like it’s a boy? Eight thousand Tweets per week contain it’s a boy; almost zero contain “boy infant clothes.

Tip 2: Identify when users will be most open to your message.

Every Tweet sends signals about what a person is thinking, feeling and experiencing in the moment. It’s often intuitive which keywords will signal that a user is in a moment of brand receptiveness and growing purchase intent. For example, Adidas Poland targeted keywords related to pro soccer players and sports footwear. This tactic contributed to the 900% increase in engagement rate @AdidasPL saw on its Promoted Tweets.

Twitter users can also indicate in surprising ways that they’re open to messages from your brand. You can uncover these moments by monitoring Twitter for real-time conversation. For example, as a controversy raged on Twitter about whether a horse racing in the 2014 Belmont Stakes should be allowed to wear nasal strips, Breathe Right achieved a 46% rate of video viewership by targeting keywords like Belmont and #HorseRace. @Breathe_Right made its message highly relevant to a passionate audience whose interest in nasal strips had suddenly been piqued.

Plan your campaigns around the moments in people’s lives that might lead them to realize they have a need for your products, or to make an emotional connection with your brand. When those moments occur, which keywords might they Tweet? Which kinds of Tweets would they engage with?

Tip 3: Use keyword-level analytics to maximize performance.

Keyword-level analytics give you the insights you need to systematically find the best performing keywords. Try creating a campaign with a set of tightly themed keywords and starting a weekly optimization rhythm. After the first week, once you have enough data, view the engagement rate of each keyword.

Five tips for using Twitter’s keyword targeting in timeline

Remove the keywords for which engagement rates are substantially below the rate for the entire campaign. In the example above, the fictional coffee brand @BaristaBar chose 1.0% as the threshold. Keep the rest of the keywords; they’re your champions for this round. Then add a selection of new keywords similar to the high-performing keywords. Continue this pattern of pitting challengers against champions each week.

Tip 4: Find the right balance between precision and reach.

It’s tempting to use phrase match with every keyword to maximize precision, but consider that phrase match may sometimes be too narrow to ensure sufficient reach. For each keyword you use, there could be variants or similar words that reveal the same openness to your message. That’s why broad match can be a great way to scale your campaigns while maintaining precision.

When @CoorsLightUK built a promotional campaign that drove a 507% increase in brand conversation, they targeted the keyword snowboard among many others. Because they used broad match, they effortlessly reached more people with a variant of the keyword snowboarder.

In cases where there’s a risk of targeting incorrectly because the keyword is being used in a different context, use phrase match or negative match.

Tip 5: Reconnect users who recently engaged with your Tweets.

When you target a keyword, you’ll reach people who recently Tweeted that keyword, and those who recently engaged with Tweets containing that keyword. This includes any type of engagement: replies, Retweets, favorites, link clicks, video views and more. For this reason, you can use keyword targeting in the timeline to re-market to users who recently engaged with your other Promoted Tweets campaigns, if those campaigns contain a unique hashtag. This helps you move interested users toward making a purchase.

Suppose the fictional coffee company @BaristaBar wants to send a message to users who show an affinity for Hawaii and Kona coffee. The account first runs an interest-targeted campaign with very broad reach, targeting the “Travel: Hawaii” interest category. The campaign uses Promoted Tweets that contain the unique #AlwaysKonaQuality hashtag:

Once this first campaign has begun, @BaristaBar then creates a second campaign, and targets only the keyword #AlwaysKonaQuality. With this second campaign, the account reaches only those people who engaged with their first campaign.

We’ll continue to offer tips on using Twitter’s targeting products most effectively, and look forward to sharing more of what we learn from you.