Promoted tweets flourish in U.S. election build up

December 20, 2011  |  Cotton Delo for Advertising Age  |  Comments

As America’s first social media president gets ready to fight for a second term, his potential Republican rivals are taking to Twitter, using promoted tweets to push their messages in real time.

Twitter rolled out its political-advertising products in September with a pilot group of five presidential candidates and national political party committees, including former Gov. Mitt Romney. The company is ramping up its political-ad sales effort for the 2012 election cycle, when campaigns are projected to spend a record $6 billion.

Romney and Gov. Rick Perry are the only presidential aspirants deploying promoted tweets, but Herman Cain’s team was using them before their candidate dropped out of the race earlier this month – particularly to respond to the sexual harassment allegations. And in a move not directly associated with the campaign, House Speaker John Boehner used promoted tweets in November to comment on President Barack Obama’s latest employment report and critique the White House’s performance on jobs.

“I think what’s unique [about promoted tweets] is that there are these real-time opportunities,” said Mindy Finn, Twitter’s strategic-partnerships lead in its political sales team.

Finn pointed out that organizations already running promoted products had jumped at the chance to bid on the keyword #supercommittee when it was trending this fall. Twitter offers more immediacy than Google AdWords, which campaigns used in recent election cycles as a rapid-response tool, buying up relevant keywords to serve ads addressing a hot-button topic when they’re searched for, she said.

Last Thursday night marked the last Republican debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and the second in which Perry’s team has deployed promoted tweets. According to Perry’s online strategist, Vincent Harris, the team has been changing up tweets in the course of the debates based on what’s said. They have seen interaction rates of better than 2% – “which you cannot get on any other platform,” he said.

How do Canada’s politicians fare on social media? Post your thoughts in our comment section.

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