Promoted Tweets are a Good Thing, and Here’s Why

In September of 2010, it was announced that Twitter would begin selling promoted tweets to companies that were willing to pay for them.  At the time, the promoted tweets would simply appear at the top of a search result.

The results were mixed at the time, but Twitter reported that there was a 5% click through rate, and 80% of the companies that purchased promoted tweets chose to do so more than once.

Given the fact that promoted tweets are still around today, it was obviously a success for Twitter.  Now, they’re taking it to the next level.  Users have begun to see promoted tweets in their feeds from companies that they don’t even follow.  As the 2012 Presidential Election gets closer, everyone will begin to see political tweets promoted, as well.


As expected, there’s quite a backlash against promoted tweets showing up in a user’s feed, especially since there’s no way of opting out of seeing them.  It’s possible to dismiss the ads once they appear, but that little consolation to most.  Just take a look at a few of the comments from Twitter’s Q&A page:

But, should users be complaining?  The last time we checked, it doesn’t cost a dime to use Twitter, but many individuals and companies have literally made millions by promoting themselves on the platform.  Twitter must find ways to monetize their creation, and everyone should be glad that they’ve found a way to do so.

One of the most difficult things for social media companies to do is find new sources of funding once the initial investment runs dry.  Venture capitalists are willing to invest in companies that show potential, but they must turn a profit at some point to survive.  Although Twitter is the cornerstone of the social media world, they are not a public company, and thus not excluded from this rule.  As the user base grows, they must purchase more servers to handle the capacity, employ engineers to keep the site from crashing, and invest in development projects that keep them ahead of the competition.  VC’s will eventually pull the plug on funding if they feel that they are not going to see a return on their investment.

When Twitter announces plans for generating revenue that includes advertising, everyone should be rejoicing!  This means three things for users:

1. The service will continue to operate.
2. Users will not have to worry about paying to use the site.
3. Twitter has the ability to develop features that could enhance the experience.

Sure, the ads are a little annoying.  But, when a company that offers a free service finds a way to continue offering that service for free, it’s a good day.  So, simply scroll past the ads and be thankful that you have access to, as Twitter puts it, “the best way to discover what’s new in your world.”