I joined Twitter in 2008. By my standards, I won’t even call that an early adopter. But I remember how carefully I crafted & curated my Timeline (TL). I had writers, photographers, MICA alumni, all creative people brimming with energy. Anybody and everybody for an energetic conversation. Over the years my timeline has evolved about fivefold but the basics remain the same. Writers, creative folks, digital buzzheads, physics talking eclectic people, economists, women leaders and still brilliant conversations. So when Twitter’s native app shows me a promoted tweet of Gold Jewellery, I seriously want to throw my hands up in the air and ask “Why darling why?” I don’t remember a single site browsed or conversation had that would tell your algorithm to show me something that is of no use to me. “Twitter, you are killing my curated timeline!”
But then, this post is not a rant. It’s about how I think promoted tweets should be done. As a user, as a consumer, this is a point of view. To begin with, don’t tell me “we will throw a few promoted tweets at you every day and you can choose that drop down on right and say, ‘not relevant to me!’” I am your user. You could make revenue from me. So don’t pain me. Period.
Ask me. Ask me two things. Ask me what I want and what I don’t want. Now before I get into details of this (let’s call it an experiment), from one marketer to another, some consumers know what they want; but a lot of consumers definitely know what they don’t want. Just like if you ask a girl what all she wants in her Mr. Right, you will get a lot of generalist statements. But ask a lady what are the things she definitely doesn’t want and you will get a number of sharp answers.
So how about asking a small set of people what promoted tweets they want to see on the timeline from the options given. And then ask a few what they definitely don’t want to see. Do it like an experiment on a sample set and see how the promoted tweets fare on these timelines. This way you ‘opt in’ your users. You give them an active choice on what they want to see, like Twitter always has. This is what also differentiates it from Facebook Ads because these are my curated tweets. Albeit promoted, I have the skin in the game here.
I was speaking to a friend recently when I mentioned how I love Flipboard because I can design my Newsfeed exactly to my taste. About time Twitter borrowed a page from Flipboard’s book.
And while the smartest data and algorithm can only help you start the story, it’s when you seek permission and give control to the end user that stories get completed.
On a fun note, I am still wondering why do I see offers to buy 5K phones (!!!!) and worse still Greys Anatomy, when I am ‘ House of Cards’ kinda person.
The Author spends a lot of time on Twitter. However, she uses Echofon (paid app) on the iPhone to skip the promo tweets but uses native app on iPad and sometimes on iPhone too.