Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Cost of Tweeting - Effective Author Promo?

For the sake of promotional research, and searching for more alternatives for my advertising dollar, I have experimented with a few "pay per tweet" companies that recruit power Twitter users to post ads. Some are paid per tweet, others are paid per click - somebody clicks on the link, you get a nickel or a dime or whatever. Both seem like decent models, but as I learned quickly the other day the CPC deal can add up quickly, so you want to keep an eye on your budget. Definitely don't set up a campaign and walk away, else you could be in the hole something deep.

So far I have used the following sites to advertise my novel, Dead Barchetta. Depending on the service, I'll either craft the tweet wording or the tweeter can do it. For this experiment, I chose to have the link lead to a third-party vendor selling my book, rather than my book's main site. I figure this would lead to a quicker point of sale as opposed to forcing somebody to click more than once. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a good ROI on paid tweeting, so I'm not sure how much I'll do in the future. If anything, I have learned quite a bit from this experience and am happy to share it.

The first place I tried was Magpie. Magpie claims to be one of the first paid tweet companies, citing some big names as advertisers. I set up a small budget and worded the tweet myself and sent it off to qualified users. Magpie's minimum buy-in is twenty dollars, so I went with that. Here's the breakdown:

$20 invested at $2 budgeted per day.
$19.97 spent to reach 20044 total Twitter users
16 clicks for a CTR of .08%

Of the Twitter users I surveyed taking this opportunity, I recognized one as an actual book reviewer/Twitter user. I've not determined any sales success here.

Second place I tried was the big dog, Sponsored Tweets. They are run by IZEA, which also does Pay Per Post. They offer two methods for advertising - CPC and pay per tweet. Let me tell you right now, if you plan to use CPC have some money in the bank. The minimum buy in here is $50, which is what I used, but boy I burned through that in a day! There are thousands of registered users here - alleged a number of celebrities that I couldn't afford - and they pounced on this one. My fault partially for setting the cost per click too high: I set it for ten cents when I should have gone lower. When I realized I was close to draining my money and creating problems I closed the opportunity after about nine hours. The $50 spend got me close to 450 click-throughs over 27 Twitter users, however. I haven't checked to see if it translates to sales.

What I found most interesting about Sponsored Tweets is that it gave me access to information on a number of popular Twitter users, including some celebrities. Some of these people actually make a few thousand bucks per tweet! Can you believe how influential social media is, and how much people are willing to pay for these endorsements?

Now, these are just two out of ten companies I've researched, so I haven't quite given up on paid tweets yet. I have learned a few things, though. One: pay attention to spends; two, manage a better campaign and keep CPC bids low; three, find a service that lets you hand-pick users. You can set keywords for your campaigns, but I imagine many people who power use paid tweets to build their bank account will take any opportunity that comes along. I would prefer a Twitter user with 100 followers who read eBooks get my money than the guy with 10K spam accounts following him. He tweets, it's just noise to people tweeting him.

With any type of paid advertising, you have to reach your target audience. I know my target, and will keep shooting.

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