What Are Promoted Tweets, and How Do They Work?

If you’re a Twitter user, you’ve probably seen tweets with a “Promoted by” label and wondered, “What exactly is a promoted tweet, and how do you make one?” There are several benefits of using promoted tweets as a part of your social media marketing strategy, and creating one is as simple as choosing an objective and a budget.

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What is a promoted tweet?

A promoted tweet is a tweet that has been paid for by an advertiser to reach a wider audience or to increase engagement from existing followers.

Promoted tweets are always labeled as such so that Twitter account holders know they are viewing a paid ad. But otherwise, they function just like regular tweets, allowing users to retweet and like them. You can also dismiss a promoted tweet you don’t want to see by clicking the arrow in the top-right corner of the tweet and selecting “I don’t like this ad.”

Here’s an example of a promoted tweet:

Source: Image courtesy of Native Advertising Institute.

A promoted post might appear in several places on Twitter:

At the top of relevant search pages
In search results for a promoted trend
On your timeline (if you have an enhanced profile page, you can pin it to the top of your timeline)
In select users’ Twitter feeds
On select user profiles

How do promoted tweets work?

According to Twitter, “Promoted tweets are shown when an advertiser pays for their placement on Twitter” and can be placed by anyone. The use of a sponsored tweet allows advertisers to get their best content front and center for their audience, which can help boost engagement, increase their follower count, drive more website traffic and build brand awareness.

Promoted tweets show up on a particular user’s timeline if the promoted tweet is relevant to that user and the interests they have demonstrated through their behavior on Twitter. Generally, Twitter will not show irrelevant promoted tweets to users, since this can have a negative effect on the user’s relationship with Twitter.

Advertisers may also choose to pin their promoted tweet to the top of their timeline so that it is the first thing users see when they visit the advertiser’s profile. [Read related article: Twitter for Business: Everything You Need to Know]

How to create a promoted tweet

Follow these five steps to create a promoted tweet:

Go to your Twitter homepage, and select Advertise. Then, choose your country and time zone.
Choose your objective: awareness, consideration or conversion.
Fill in your campaign details, including your campaign’s name, funding source, daily and total budget, and start and end dates.
Follow the steps to input your ad group details.
Click “launch campaign.”

Cost of promoted tweets

Twitter is one of the more cost-effective places to advertise, since it tends to be less saturated with ads. Twitter also helps you save money by requiring payment only when someone engages with your tweet by liking, retweeting, replying or clicking, so you won’t have to pay for a failed promoted tweet.

You can also set a budget when creating your ad. The average cost of a promoted tweet is about $1.35 per engagement, according to ThriveHive.

Pros and cons of promoted tweets

There are many pros and cons of advertising on Twitter using promoted tweets:


Budget-friendly. Promoted tweets are often less expensive than other paid advertising options because Twitter doesn’t have as many ads as Google and most other search engines.

Smart payments. Twitter also helps you save money by charging you only when a user engages with your promoted tweet, so you’re protected if a promoted tweet isn’t as successful as you thought it would be.

Increased reach and traffic. Depending on your ad’s objective, the use of promoted tweets can drive more traffic to your website and increase reach or brand awareness, which, in turn, boosts lead generation and sales for your business. 

Targeted advertising options. Twitter’s ad-creation tool allows you to target your audience based on demographics – including age, location and gender – and user behavior.

Increased chance of engagement. Users can interact with promoted tweets by liking, retweeting, quoting and replying to them, the same way they would with regular tweets. Therefore, you have increased chances of high engagement rates, since your promoted tweets will be boosted and extra-visible on users’ timelines.

Visibility on all devices. You can set your promoted tweets to be visible by your Twitter followers on both mobile and desktop timelines, which can help further your reach.


Less control over who sees your tweets. Although you can choose a target audience for your promoted tweets, Twitter has the final say in who sees them, which means your promoted tweet could end up on the timeline of someone who does not want to see it.

Possibility of getting lost. Users have a continuous influx of tweets in their timelines, which means they might not notice yours. “Due to [there being] tons of individual tweets posted every day, there’s a possibility that your promoted tweets get skipped over and lost in the dump,” said Sandra Matthews, marketing specialist at the Product Analyst. “Twitter is a feed with a constant stream of information, which is why creating a promoted tweet should be carefully thought out.”

Possible alienation of some users. As with any ad campaign, you run the risk of losing followers who don’t want to see ads on their timelines. To prevent this, try to make your promoted tweets as relevant as possible to your audience, and avoid posting too many.

9 tips for a successful promoted tweet strategy

Here are nine tips to help you create a successful promoted tweet strategy:

1. Make it stand out.

Twitter is a constant stream of content, so unless there’s something eye-catching about your tweet, it will get lost in the shuffle.

“People must do something about the promoted tweet, and not just scroll by it,” Matthews said. “Make it stand out.”

2. Incorporate multimedia.

A great way to help your tweet stand out is to include media, such as images, video or GIFs. These create visual interest, which can lead to increased chances of engagement with your post.

3. Start with an engagement campaign.

“My best tip is to run an engagement campaign first,” said Steven J. Wilson, chief personal branding consultant at Steven J. Wilson & Associates. “Invest in getting people to like and comment on the post. You will get better results having a hundred or so likes on the post, since people will pay more attention when they see others have as well.”

4. Use Twitter cards.

Using Twitter cards is a simple way to improve the efficiency of your tweet and help tailor it to your campaign. A Twitter card can automatically load pictures, media, metadata and author details within your tweet, as well as gather leads, app download details and website clicks.

5. Perform A/B tests.

If you’re just starting out with a campaign and have multiple tweets, but you aren’t sure which one will perform better, do an A/B test to see which tweet you should use in your official campaign. Try multiple tweets with differences in wording, content and multimedia. 

6. Know your audience.

The best way to ensure the success of any advertisement is to make sure it is relevant and engaging. If a promoted tweet doesn’t resonate with your followers, they won’t engage with it. Look at your audience demographics, customer behavior and Twitter behavior to help inform your decisions.

7. Include a call to action.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t tweet for the sake of tweeting; there should be a clear goal or mission behind your promoted tweet. Use this mission to create a call to action that you can include somewhere in your promoted tweet.

“Your No. 1 goal should be to make the reader stop scrolling and start reading,” said Mark Hayes, head of marketing at Kintell. “Seal the deal with a call to action to make readers click through to your website and learn more about you.” 

8. Make your tweet clear and to the point.

Twitter was built on conciseness; this is not the place to be wordy. Know what your goal is with each promoted tweet, and attempt to achieve that goal in as few words as possible.

“Your content should be straight to the point, because that’s how Twitter works,” said Shari Smith, founder of Shari-Sells

9. Create your own hashtags.

One of the best ways to stand out on Twitter and encourage engagement is to use unique hashtags. Avoid generic hashtags, as those will be heavily populated with competing content. Instead, create your own hashtag that can be easily associated with your brand, and include that hashtag in all of your promoted tweets. However, avoid using too many hashtags in one tweet.

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