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Twitter pushes 'Promoted Tweets' to top of users' timelines

Twitter Promoted Tweets

Twitter wants to make sure that "Promoted Tweets" don't go unseen by users.

To try to make this happen, and in turn make the Promoted Tweet a bit more valuable to advertisers, Twitter is rolling out a new "Promoted Tweets to followers" option rolling out today that will essentially pin a promoted tweet to the top of a user's timeline.

"When we decide to follow a favorite brand, business or charitable organization, we expect to be among the first to get a special announcement, access to exclusive content or a great offer," Twitter said in a blog post announcing the changes. "That's why starting today, we're introducing a way to ensure that the most important Tweets from the organizations you follow reach you directly, by placing them at or near the top of your timeline."

Only Promoted Tweets from companies and groups a user follows will get such special prominence, Twitter said.

"Promoted Tweets will scroll through the timeline like any other Tweet, and like regular Tweets, they will appear in your timeline just once," the San Francisco company said.

Among the first businesses to get the revamped Promoted Tweets over "the next several weeks" will be Dell, Gatorade, Groupon, LivingSocial, HBO, Microsoft Xbox, Red Bull and Starbucks. The first nonprofit groups to get the pinned Promoted Tweet treatment will include the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Water.org, Room to Read and the American Red Cross.

Moves to increase the number of eyes that see a Promoted Tweet have been rumored to be in the works for a while as Twitter seeks to build a product that makes more money off of ads. Being able to reach people effectively online, with ads tailored to a person's interests, is what has led companies such as Google and Facebook to become tech giants -- and it's what Twitter is looking to do.

Ensuring a Promoted Tweet shows up at the top of a company's followers timeline is a step toward ensuring users actually see the tweet.

"When you tweet to your followers, there's no guarantee they'll see it (if you follow as many people as I do, you probably won't see it)," Sean Corcoran, a marketing analyst at the research group Forrester, said in a blog post. "It's ok to use paid media in your social marketing efforts but it's best to start by dipping your toe. The risk isn't in cost (most of these ads are performance based), it's in alienating your customers."

With more people seeing Promoted Tweets and interacting with them (clicking a link, or watching a video, or seeing an attached image), Twitter hopes to be able to charge more for ads and entice more advertisers to spend money with it, rather than its rivals.

[Corrected 12:34 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Promoted Tweets from nonprofit groups would appear in timelines for both those who follow a group, and those who don't. That was wrong. Actually, Promoted Tweets from nonprofits are treated the same way as Promoted Tweets from businesses and only appear in timelines of those who follow the respective company or group.]

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Twitter.com/nateog

Image: An example of a Promoted Tweet pinned to the top of a user's timeline. Credit: Twitter

 
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