Low cost digital advertising on Twitter – can it work on a budget?

Many business owners spend money on printed-media ads and advertorials, but we think that digital advertising on Twitter and other Social Media platforms is worth considering.

Here's our guide on Twitter Ads.

4 Oct, 2016

Most Social Media platforms offer advertising opportunities to their users, but we’re going to take a quick look at advertising on Twitter and how it could put you in front of your perfect target audience… and for less than you might imagine.

If you’re worried that Twitter won’t represent cost-effectiveness (how much business is done on Twitter anyway?) then consider this…

Many businesses are happy to place adverts, or advertorials, in local or national press. They don’t do this (necessarily) because they expect it to generate hundreds of phone calls, all leading to sales. They do it primarily to increase their exposure, hoping to make their brand more recognisable.

This kind of exposure has some considerable costs – whether you have to pay directly for the placement, or if you have to pay for specialist PR and/or professional photography… and that’s not including your own time. There’s not always a clear way to see what success your placement has had either, making it nigh-on impossible to know if you have got value for money.

So, given that much printed-media advertising gives negligible, or at best difficult-to-measure, success, why not look for something measurable?

Twitter Advertising Costs – an experiment

I’ve tried Twitter advertising this month and wanted to show you how it works and how the advertising campaign worked out for me.

Now, whenever I pick up a local business magazine, I’m always most attracted to articles and advertorials featuring people I already know, and am assuming that quite a few other readers do the same.

So, my objective was to put an ad (in this case, one of my Tweets) in front of people who were already familiar with me, just to remind them who I am and what I do. I would also like some of them to take action by liking or sharing the Tweet, or by clicking through to my website. My budget for this ‘experiment’? A whole £10!

How does advertising on Twitter work?

Log in to your Twitter account, click your photo, and choose ‘Twitter Ads’.

You can choose your objective by focusing on getting followers, website clicks, or Twitter engagements. By using some conversion code supplied by Twitter, you can also measure conversions that happen as a result of clicks through to your website.

You then choose who you want to target (the Audience). For this, you can focus on a combination of geographic region(s), gender, users who are similar to those that you specify, and also specific lists of users. It’s this last one that I wanted to focus on.

Here's what a promoted Tweet looks like when you run Twitter AdsYou select your budget (daily spend; total spend; target cost per objective). So, if you have chosen ‘Followers’ as your campaign goal, you will choose a target cost per new follower, etc. As with other paid advertising solutions, you can also let Twitter choose the optimum amount for you.

You choose the Tweet (the Creative) that you want to promote, or create a new one specifically for your campaign. You can actually choose multiple Tweets, and Twitter will alternate them, allowing you to carry out some A/B testing.

Choosing my Twitter Ads Audience

Switching momentarily to another of my Social Media accounts – I have around 2000 LinkedIn contacts. These are people whose paths I have crossed over the years, either networking, as clients, as a supplier, as partners, and of course as friends. I thought it would be good to push my Tweet (Ad) to them on Twitter, so I logged in to LinkedIn and exported a CSV list of all of my contacts. Then, on Twitter, I created an ‘Audience’ for my Ads and imported my LinkedIn email addresses into it.

So now, it’s time to set the campaign running.

I only ran the campaign with 1 Tweet and with a total budget of £10. As well as putting my Tweet right in front of my audience 4,300 times (which was the primary objective), my Tweet was clicked over 50 times (and I even achieved 1 additional follower, which wasn’t part of the brief). This works out at less than 20p per ‘engagement’.

Graphic showing results of a Twitter Ads Campaign

To me, this looks like a good result, albeit one that with a little work might do even better next time.

Going back to my earlier point about getting eyeballs on your advertorial in a local business magazine – my target audience has seen my ad 4,300 times and I have only spent £10. How would that compare with an advert in printed media? In addition, my Twitter ad achieved over 50 clicks through to my website. How would that compare with printed media?

Are you having second thoughts about advertising on Twitter, and on Twitter Advertising Costs? Got your own results you’d like to share?

You know the drill… Drop us a comment below and tell us about it!


  1. Matthew Bull

    We will see it after the twitter users avail the promo.

  2. Paul Hardingham

    Thanks for your article.

    I was just looking at Twitter ads and it was suggesting between £1.71 to £6+ per click.

    Either I’m in a crazy high competitive area or I’m missing something>?! But 20p per click for a targeted search result would be far more attractive.

    Just wondering what your search phrase was.

    Thanks, Paul.

    • Martin Jarvis

      Hi Paul.
      Thanks for commenting. Yours may well be a highly competitive area, which would account for the high click cost, but don’t forget my campaign was not based on keywords.

      I built a ‘purpose made’ audience from my existing Linked In contacts and imported those into my Twitter campaign. I then targeted the Twitter feeds of those people. In other words, my ad was shown to people I was already connected with in some way, rather than anyone who matched my keywords.

      My whole campaign was really directed towards gently nudging people I already knew, which I’m guessing accounted for my lower engagement cost.

      Hope that helps.


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