Twitter Tweaks Search Targeting for Promoted Tweets

3 minute read
Dan Berthiaume avatar

Twitter is offering several new features to help marketers better target their promoted tweets in user search results.


Since 2010, Twitter has been allowing marketers to use promoted tweets that match user interests based on their search queries and other activities. Twitter is now refining how promoted tweets show up in user search results. The social media network is offering three different options for matching promoted tweets to keywords in search queries -- exact match, phrase match and basic keyword match -- and is also leveraging negative keyword targeting that prevents a promoted tweet from being targeted to search queries that employ a specific keyword.

In addition, marketers can match their promoted tweets to related trends and topics. This feature, which is default-enabled, uses relevance signals to target promoted tweets to popular current Twitter topics. Twitter is also launching a bulk import tool that allows marketers to use exported keyword lists and/or pasted content in their search targeting dashboard.

A Change Can Do You Good

According to CNNMoney, marketers should obtain value from some of these new enhancements to promoted tweet targeting. “The launch of negative keyword targeting will allow brands to note which words they do not want associated with their tweets,” states CNNMoney. Although in a blog posting Twitter gives the example of a bacon company not wanting to target tweets to users searching for actor Kevin Bacon, CNNMoney gives real-life examples of McDonald’s and Victoria’s Secret suffering embarrassment and negative publicity due to tweets being associated with certain keywords and hashtags.

Learning Opportunities

In addition, CNNMoney notes that the default targeting of promoted tweets to trending topics means that for example, a baby clothes manufacturer could link their message to Twitter activity around the recent announcement of Kate Middleton’s pregnancy.

Getting Ahead of Twitter Trends

Combined with some recent third-party offerings designed to allow marketers to get ahead of Twitter trends, Twitter’s new search targeting features could potentially provide significant competitive advantage. Last month, MIT Associate Professor Devavrat Shah and his student Stanislav Nikolov said they have developed a proprietary algorithm which can in fact predict what topics Twitter’s own proprietary trending algorithm will place on the trending list an average of 90 minutes before they get there, and up to four or five hours in advance in some cases. For digital marketers, advance knowledge of trending topics could greatly assist efforts to perform real-time social marketing and ensure that Twitter promotional messages are timed ahead of trending topics, rather than developed in response to them.

In addition, a recently launched service called TWeather is designed to give reports on what is emerging on Twitter -- the “clouds and patterns” of tweets on different topics, providing 10-minute “weather” updates on popular trending topics in Twitter. From the home page, users can select any one of the top 10 currently trending topics or a link within featured topics such as politics and music. By selecting a keyword, users can see related tweets. Reports are updated every 10 minutes and users can scroll back to see previous reports. Thus TWeather presents tweet trending data in a way that makes it easier for users to detect and track patterns than they can by scrolling through topical Twitter timelines.

The new algorithm from Shah and Nikolov is not yet widely commercially available, but it is still easy to picture how both it and the currently available Tweather service could help marketers make better keyword selections for targeted tweets.