I tried Twitter’s Promote Mode for a month and all I got were these lousy 26 followers

Twitter, in a desperate attempt to start making some money, has launched a new feature called Promote Mode. Well, I think it’s still in Beta – but you can access it anyway by clicking on your profile picture and selecting Promote Mode.

The gist of Promote Mode is that you give Twitter money and then just tweet as normal. Twitter then takes your tweets and shows them to new people that don’t follow you. So it’s as if you were paying to manually promote your own tweets, except you don’t pick them yourself.

With me so far? In a nutshell it’s ‘give Twitter money for greater reach and gain followers.’ At least, in theory.

The cost, by the way, is meant to be £79 per month. Somehow I ended up paying £95 but oh well. It’s all for science.

When you set it up, you pick up to five categories for targeting. It’s not clear if there’s any additional targeting, which would be helpful as the categories themselves are quite wide-ranging. Here’s what I went with:

Sounds about right, based on what I can tell about my followers from Twitter Analytics and this blog.

How did I do? Let’s look at the results!

Ok, so first up my tweets reached more people. Only 41% more than usual though, which doesn’t actually seem like a lot. Moreover, I didn’t really have much control over who these people were. I got the occasional RT or reply from someone who didn’t follow me, but it didn’t feel like I was suddenly reaching some new audience. So this was a bit disappointing.

I did get the odd reply from someone being like GET THIS PROMOTED RUBBISH OUT OF MY TIMELINE from people who are extremely angry that promoted tweets appear in the feed of the free online service they use every day. So I guess you’re kinda opening yourself up to that kind of criticism, if you care about that.

Followers gained: 26. That doesn’t seem very impressive. £95 for 26 followers. About a £3.60 cost per follow. Maybe my tweets just weren’t good enough (in a normal month my net follower gain is minus forty lol). But it feels like if I’m paying Twitter to promote my tweets, they should be finding people really eager to follow me. And I’ve seen similar results from other reviews.

So maybe it’s not a ‘buying followers’ tool, which is fine. They say that follower count is just a vanity metric anyway. I just happen to be extremely vain. It looks like a bunch of folks visited my profile, but I’m not sure how that’s really useful to me in any way.

Further thoughts

This doesn’t feel like a product meant for your everyday normal Twitter user. The best way for them to get views and follows is just to tweet out great content and finally go viral with something extremely stupid. This feels like something more for brands to use, a kind of ‘set it and forget it’ to make sure you’re not just screaming out your content into the void. At the very least, with Promote Mode, you know that someone will see it.

It’s a shame then that the targeting options are so limited. Like, am I really going to find my most engaged followers by targeting people just on the basis that they’re interested in ‘society?’ What does that even mean? (Also lmao at ‘Hobbies and Interests’ being an interest).

I’d like to see a more powerful version of this with some more granular options. (Don’t think that Twitter doesn’t have loads of data on you, just like FB). Then it’d feel more like a bona fide marketing product, rather than the weird little gamble it is currently.

Other problems

You can’t pick the tweets to get promoted. This is a problem, imo. I tweet a lot of stuff that’s context dependent. A random tweet plucked out of a series of other tweets wouldn’t make much sense in isolation. This can lead to some strange results.

I also kept getting this weird tweet promoted to me –

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Not having control over your own promoted tweets is a pretty major liability. If there was, say, a horrible train accident, I wouldn’t want my tweet about my train being late from three days ago to get promoted. You have the option to stop promoting all tweets whenever you want, but having more control would be appreciated. And frankly, it’s kind of vital.

So in conclusion, I don’t rate Promote Mode. It’s super expensive for the casual Twitter user, not worth it for the bigger Twitter users, and not a good fit for brands to use. There’s better options out there if you want to start promoting your tweets, and you’ll have more control over targeting. This is a blunt tool that doesn’t seem right for any particular job.

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