Twitter, the microblogging service whose U.S. users fell by 2 million to reach 68 million last quarter, is testing a service that will automatically promote an advertiser’s tweets for a monthly flat fee of $99, according to a blog post. The method of picking which tweets get promoted is unclear, with the company saying a Promoted Account campaign will include as many as the first 10 tweets sent each day.
Instead of creating and optimizing separate Twitter Ads campaigns, the advertiser will let the program “do the heavy lifting,” according to Twitter. The program is only open to invited accounts during the test.
The company is offering the first 30 days free, and will start charging by the month after that. Advertisers can cancel at any time. A Promoted Tweet campaign won’t include Retweets, Quote Tweets or replies to other Twitter users.
Twitter wants to expand and diversify its advertiser base among small businesses that don’t have large advertising budgets for social media as one to boost its ad revenues, which dropped 8% in the most recent quarter. If users continue to leave the platform, which saw its U.S. user base decline 2 million in the recent, Twitter may have hard time selling broad reach efforts but programs like automated promoted tweets could help advertisers connect with the platform's most dedicated users.
Like Google, Facebook and Snapchat, Twitter accepts credit card payments and has a self-service portal to help small businesses create inexpensive campaigns on its platform. The $99 monthly fee for up to 10 tweets a day is comparably inexpensive to other kinds of promoted Tweets that show one tweet for a set period.
While Twitter provides analytics to advertisers who test the program, there is some uncertainty about which tweets get chosen to promote. As for targeting, Twitter says advertisers can choose an audience by metropolitan area or category of user interest. The company says that as the program continues, advertisers will be able to see demographic breakdowns in its analytics data.
Twitter has made efforts to make its platform more appealing to advertisers by cleaning up abusive accounts and objectionable content based on user complaints. Troll accounts and bots have dogged the company, which has prided itself for protecting free speech and user anonymity. Between 9% and 15% of Twitter accounts are bots, according to a March report from the University of Southern California and Indiana University. As the company faces challenges with a stagnating or declining user base, it needs to figure out more ways to monetize its audience of users who are very committed to using the platform.