How would you spend 100k on Twitter?

April 29, 2010


The last couple of weeks have been a frenzy of developer conferences sponsored by the likes of Twitter and Facebook. The sheer amount of information released is staggering and because the events have been targeted primarily to developers the ‘marketing messages’ haven’t been fully formed yet.

As such, having the opportunity to dissect the announcements and share perspectives with peers is important. And last night I attended a Portland event hosted at Webtrends and moderated by local celebrity Rick Turoczy where a group of developers and marketers that attended F8, Chirp, InsideSocialApps, and iPadDevCamp shared their views on the implications of the announcements from the event.

In typical Portland fashion the conversation was relevant, smart, and provided some smart insights into what has transpired over the following weeks. One question stumped the crowd though (and I’m paraphrasing):

How can I, as a marketer, spend money on Twitter [compared to Facebook]?

Personally, I was a bit struck at the fact that there was any pause at all so I tweeted:

jascha kaykas-wolff (kaykas) on Twitter

I sincerely didn’t expect much in terms of replies. I was wrong.

Twitter _ @kaykas

What is curious is the diversity of answers and the lack of direct answers about how to spend 100k on Twitter directly. Could it be the way I phrased the question & comment? Is it a lack of comprehension on Twitter’s business model?

To set the record straight, I not only agree you have to have the why defined and the goals defined prior to launching a campaign i’m an advocate in the industry for the process.  However, for the purpose of this discussion let’s put the following paramaters around the question:

1) You have defined your goals to drive 5000 leads to your b2b technology company, Webtrends.

2) You have dedicated 100k to explore Twitter as a channel.

3) Your CEO will only let you spend the 100k on Twitter (you can’t buy additional resources, software, etc.)

So, with that…how would you spend 100k on Twitter?


Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by kaykas: “How would you spend 100k on Twitter?” Great discussion on Twitter last night and this morning….

From uberVU - social comments on April 29th, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Great forum last night and nice to hear the key take-aways from the f8, isa2010, and chirp conferences.

I’ll take a stab here, and talk about, from a vendor perspective, what I would do with $100k spend on Twitter.

1. Figure out what are you trying to achieve.
No brainier, I know, but I would be clear on the objective.
The value I see and my goal as a vendor would be to tap into the twitter channel to obtain real-time market intelligence.
Pool and allocate budget dollars across the organization and see what % this $100k equates to. Easier said than done I know, but everyone benefits:

2. Why?
Implications and opportunities across the enterprise –
Customer Service/Support – Identify and resolve issues, over and out.
Quickly move the conversation beyond the “Company X” or “Product Y” sucks and leverage twitter to listen and engage.
Sales/Marketing – Umm, wouldn’t it be nice to know, BEFORE you call or meet with a prospect or existing customer, if there are any customer service/support issues. You are not about to sell an upgrade if your customer is not happy *today/right-now*.
What if your key influencer or decision maker was tweeting about something that gives you an *in* to get a conversation going?
You may even pick up a nugget or two about competitors and if you are being shopped and/compared to another vendor.
Does your company and product messaging/positioning resonate?
Product – I’m putting the entire product org. under this umbrella (Product Development, Product Marketing, R&D, etc.)
Listen, listen, listen for – competitive intelligence, market information, customer feedback (features/functions customers want), differentiators, R&D innovation, data that could impact product strategy and roadmap….

3. How would you specifically spend?

Human + Technology

Community Manager – Commit a majority of this spend on a resource to monitor and help transfer this knowledge and information across the enterprise.
Technology – Tools to help monitor and provide metrics
The data you obtain is completely worthless in silos and if not shared across organizations.

From Anoop Sahgal on April 29th, 2010 at 8:02 pm

it’s a great question, and kudos for asking it. I suspect that the answer right now is that you can’t. Twitter, unlike Facebook or Google, does not own the UI, and that’s a real problem. While Facebook and Google can add Advertising as a sidebar to the targeted content they present, Twitter ONLY provides the content.

While I did not attend Chirp, and profess no knowledge of their actual plans, I see them facing a real dilemma;

– If they inject Ad content into that stream of “real” content, and it is *identifiable* as such, it will be filtered by the UI providers (Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc

– If they inject Ad content into that stream that is *not* identifiable, it will provoke a very harsh reaction from the user community (not to mention being legally murky)

Just my 2c, but I don’t actually see a viable way for Twitter to create a business model with their current structure.

(great classic post from Allen Weiss on the same topic here:

From Steve Woods on April 29th, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Pay a twitter savvy person to analyze what kind of tweets would benefit your company. Pay a twitter savvy web developer to analyze your website to tell you what kind of twitter links or boxes should go on your website, if at all, as well as what technology you would need to do it. These are both hour long consultations with possible follow ups. This shouldn’t cost more than a couple hundred.

Have the web developer implement the changes. This shouldn’t be more the $1000.

Have a current twitter savvy employee be in charge of the twitter account, with guidelines on what should and should not be tweeted.

Give the rest to twitter. Sure twitter is free, but it’s donations and ad revenue from the mobile apps that pay their bills.

From Elizabeth Buckwalter on April 29th, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Sorry we didn’t get to chat about this last night at the event! I thought your tweet was funny, and RTed it.

But, this is not a realistic scenario, or comparison. It’s easy to spend $100k on Facebook because they have apps – so the answer is “build some game or activity on the Facebook platform.”

There is no comparable platform for Twitter. The closest comparison would be to build an interactive microsite with the ability to tweet the results. But, that’s not spending marketing dollars on Twitter at all; instead it’s part of an entire web strategy.

The obvious solution (as several previous commenters mention) is to put most of those dollars into salary, and put someone in charge of learning how to create tweets with resonance, so you can maintain that coveted Promoted Tweet spot. The hard costs you would pay to Twitter would be miniscule compared to the payroll costs.

There are several ways to integrate Twitter into your media strategy now, which I am discussing in a webinar next week. I’d love to continue this conversation. More details here:

From Jamie Becklnad on April 29th, 2010 at 10:23 pm

thanks for the comments everyone. clearly smart reactions to a generally gated and leading question :) for what it is worth i tend to fall into Steve’s camp. i’m not convinced of the viability of Twitter’s business model. yet.

From jascha kaykas-wolff on April 30th, 2010 at 3:51 am


I would spend the sum on a creative team to develop a campaign that is fun, useful, and rewards amplification of your brand (in a non-spammy way preferably).

My agency recently did this for Air New Zealand with the @KiWeets promotion ( Essentially, we used Twitter as a gaming platform for a time-based trivia challenge and gave away trips to New Zealand… daily.

Within the first 30 days, Air New Zealand earned:

• 20k+ brand mentions
• 3000+ new followers
• 4M+ organic brand impressions (reach)

All of this was accomplished well under the $100k mark.


From daniel timothy wood on April 30th, 2010 at 6:48 am

What’s interesting is that the only way to spend money on Twitter is by not spending it with Twitter. If you have $100K, you’d have to spend it with the ecosystem on things like:

  • People to operate your Twitter account for you, or
  • Build websites/apps that leverage Twitter for social sharing or as the mechanism for participation, or
  • 3rd party ads served by apps powered by Twitter.

Twitter announced that they are expanding their core services, which is most clearly demonstrated by their acquisition of Tweetie to be their iPhone client. Twitter will be able to wrest much of their API traffic back by providing official clients, but I don’t think instream Twitter ads is their focus.

Currently, Twitter is serving 19 billion searches per month, which is more than Yahoo! and not too far from Google’s 90 billion per month. Twitter is also seeing more unique visitors to their website than they have total users (100 MM users vs. 120 MM unique website visitors). In other words, more people want to hear what’s happening on Twitter than people who want to contribute to Twitter, which indicates that their money audience isn’t necessarily the Tweeters themselves, but rather the consumers of their content. Someone recently pointed out that Twitter is the new AP wire. Most people want to read the news, not write it. Those news readers are served the ads that fuel news outlets (as compared to advertising to the journalists who write the news).

So, at the moment you can’t spend your $100K *with* Twitter (even though you can spend $100K *on* Twitter via the ecosystem). Hopefully they’ll expand their search advertising inventory soon and change all of that :)

From Justin Kistner on April 30th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

1. I would have an algorithm developed for ‘influence’ that takes recency, frequency, mentions and retweets into consideration. This would allow me to score influencers, by keyword and geography – but would shed the phonies that just buy their followers.

2. I would begin to map influencers definitively and begin building campaigns around those influencers. This would include invitations to events, guest blogging and speaking, consultation and feedback groups, and perhaps a couple gifts as well. :)

3. I would budget and track the influence of those targets to see what the impact is on leads, sales, product development, backlinks, keyword ranking, etc., etc.

Basically, I’d develop the perfect inbound marketing system for social media. And after Twitter, I’d move to Facebook, and on… and on… and on…

From Douglas Karr on April 30th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Ads that send and receive tweets. I love me some social, and I love it even more when you pay to get a little awareness about the campaign.

From Thom on April 30th, 2010 at 5:09 pm

My first two questions back would be:

– What are you trying to accomplish? (What are your objectives, goals, targets?)
– How long is that $100K supposed to last? 1 month? 1 quarter? 1 year?

You need to know the answers to those 2 questions before moving on. But for the sake of answering your question, here are the first things that come to mind – from a practical standpoint:

1. 24/7 monitoring. Regardless of the tools and dashboards you decided to opt into (and their cost), this has two elements – Technology and Human head count (HC), both of which cost $$$.

2. Management. (Again, HC). You need skilled individuals to operate your twitter account(s). Emphasis on ‘skilled.’ If your objective is to use Twitter to enhance a customer service/support department, then you need someone skilled in that type of engagement and function. That costs $$$. If you are more focused on using twitter for market research, same thing: You’re going to need to hire someone who can take care of that for you. Online reputation management, crisis management, community management, etc. <- Same thing.

Assuming that your $100K budget is for an entire year, guess what: Most of that is going to go into paying someone's salary. Some of it will go into monitoring tools. In the end, you'll quickly realize that $100k isn't a whole lot to spend on Twitter.

Of course, you could act the fool and spend some of that money on buying followers on eBay or hiring an agency to create custom backgrounds and avatars for a mere $80K (I am not making this up), but the reality is that skilled management and monitoring/management tools are where the bulk of your "twitter budget" will go. At least as things stand in 2010.

From olivier blanchard on April 30th, 2010 at 6:23 pm

“1) You have defined your goals to drive 5000 leads to your b2b technology company, Webtrends.”

Raw leads? What do you call a lead? Someone who’s given you an email address? OK … let’s be charitable. Let’s say 5000 Twitter followers who are suspects? Surely you can’t mean just 5000 visitors! A lead has to be a person who’s taken some action!

5000 *new* leads? 5000 people who aren’t in your database already? 5000 people you’ve identified on Twitter via Radian6 monitoring tweeting about something relevant to Webtrends offerings?

“2) You have dedicated 100k to explore Twitter as a channel.

“3) Your CEO will only let you spend the 100k on Twitter (you can’t buy additional resources, software, etc.)

“So, with that…how would you spend 100k on Twitter?”

Use the force, Jascha. ;-) Spend the 100K on a developer to enhance the Webtrends / Salesforce / Twitter / Radian6 integration / ETL functionality. Your dog food is quite tasty. ;-)

I’m going to tweet this convo to @dickc – he’s the logical Twitter person, I think. ;-)

From M. Edward (Ed) Borasky on April 30th, 2010 at 7:16 pm

I’ve been watching this post develop all day, trying to figure out how to articulate my thoughts. I feel like all that needs to be said has been said in terms of answering the actual question.

One thing I think is interesting is that most of us have arrived at basically the same point: you invest in the infrastructure around Twitter that will enable you to achieve your goals.

With that, I’ll go ahead and decidedly NOT answer the question and instead ask a few.

The thing that struck me is the basic premise of the original question which sets something like Twitter up as another vertical in one’s stack of marketing channels, a discreet thing onto which you place your marketing. Like buy a time slot on TV, or a banner ad on the web.

But what if Twitter is something fundamentally different? In our rush to figure how to get advertising into yet another aspect of our lives, I wonder if we ended up missing some important aspects of Twitter that make it both unique and possibly more interesting. Twitter is by far the most transient of channels and just the fact the Twitter had to break the core paradigm of it’s own product to get their sponsored tweets in place I think suggests I think that we may be misunderstanding its nature.

While Facebook has a place, and structure, as does TV or radio, Twitter has none. Everyone here at Fight uses a different client, and thus has a different experience with it. Twitter seems to me to be closer to a protocol than a platform, closer to HTML than to Facebook.

In this light, asking how to spend 100k in Twitter is like asking how to spend 100k in HTML. You’re not spending 100k IN anything, you’re spending it to build a system to utilize a technology based on its cultural underpinnings.

From Justin Spohn on April 30th, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Justin, you’re absolutely right – Twitter is a protocol! @chrisorourke said exactly that months ago, but I may have been the only one in the room – he may never have tweeted it to the world! ;-)

Last summer, the prevalent metaphor was the cocktail party with six million conversations, but that’s not really it any more. But I don’t think twitter had to “break the core paradigm” to get Promoted Tweets. They’ve essentially emulated Google – they’re going to give away tweeting and search and sell search position.

I think they’ll end up selling analytics too, if only because it’s inefficient as all Hell for analytics vendors to have to duplicate Twitter’s infrastructure to capture, index and analyze tweets at the volume they occur and the low signal/noise ratio. If I were Nielsen, I’d be very afraid. If I were Gallup I’d be very afraid.

From M. Edward (Ed) Borasky on May 1st, 2010 at 2:20 pm

With the benefit of all the previous wisdom, I will now jump-in.

The reason this is such a tough question right now is because there’s only 1 place to spend money in Twitter itself, and that way started weeks ago. It’s not surprising to me that it’s impossible to spend $100k within Jascha’s rules, this has been true for a long time.

I believe that if you think Twitter’s in trouble or can’t make money you’re crazy. Sure, they need to cross the chasm to the mainstream, sure they need to make the tools simpler, sure they need to focus everyone’s energy on making tools that will make users and brands successful — but they’ve created a fantastic network with early adopters that is primed and ready.

I think JKistner’s insight is really interesting. We need to see Twitter as both the sea of tweets AND the people who watch them. If enough of the RIGHT people use the platform, the value to everyone is immense. This week also brought some interesting stats and insights on Twitter usage, especially that Twitter users are 2-3 times more likely to follow a brand than on other networks. If you think you know what Twitter is, you’re probably wrong.

Indeed JSpohn, this is a company, an idea, a product based on a different paradigm. Twitter doesn’t exist — just the ocean of tweets, our connections and the ecosystem of tools exist. The people behind Twitter itself, at this moment, are purely enablers. They manage the servers, the search algorithm, the APIs, a blog and a few webpages. Protocol 2.0 ?(shoot me now)

Look around, a perfect mix of closed (owned platform), and open (ecosystem) is required for Internet companies to succeed today. Twitter has spent it’s early years developing the ecosystem, now it will develop it’s platform. If they focus on mass adoption/interest and great tools for users and marketers they will be very very successful, and we will all give them $100k many times over.

Twitter only needs to make a piece of the money pie to sustain, grow and make their employees and investors very rich.

[related reading]
TechCrunch — Facebook, The App Store and the Sound of Inevitability (about the balance between open and closed)

Mashable — New Report Details the State of Twitter [STATS]

Mashable — What Twitter’s New Ad Model Could Mean for Small Business

From Marko Z Muellner on May 2nd, 2010 at 5:20 am

great post as usual!

From MarkSpizer on May 2nd, 2010 at 10:40 am

Your article was most tweeted by Branding experts in the Twitterverse…

Come see other top popular articles surfaced by Branding experts!…

From Most Tweeted Articles by Branding Experts: MrTweet on May 2nd, 2010 at 2:25 pm

You only get one spot to make a first impression. Cash on barrel head buys you a word. Do you own your identity? For example has Pepsi become “Refreshing”, scooping Coke on it’s marketing initiatives.

So pick your words carefully

From John Anthony Hartman on May 3rd, 2010 at 6:21 pm

How ca you not want to use Twitter and why would you not embrace the social world. We have to be transparent, if not, what are we hiding. Besides, it is new, we have to learn how it works and when it works why, we can not test and learn unless we try?! Well that is what we believe!

Thank you for the post, interesting discussion. :)

From Integrati Marketing Consulting on May 21st, 2010 at 10:18 am

What a great question. I have no doubt that there are ways you can spend money supporting your Twitter initiative with hiring of staff, creating logos and even campaign pages. However if you follow the rules you simply can’t do that. So given there currently is no advertising model this is a difficult task, if not impossible (I’d go for impossible at the moment).

So impossible things require stretching of the rules and thinking outside that terrible little square we all try to spend our time out of. Not that this is the point of the question though.

Best way to spend $100k on Twitter is to use their logo inappropriately and ultimately end up in a court battle with them. The PR will be enormous, and does not need to be paid for. The objective is to not pay lawyers anything and settle out of court for around $100k.

There you go. You have just spent $100k on Twitter (without donating it) and you managed to get coverage and I dare say a lot of traffic as a result.

Now it does kind of answer the question, however the potential damage to your brand and the resulting negative press could eventually work against this idea. However you did get to spend $100k twitter. You didn’t use extra resources because one person could technically do all the tweeting and legal discussions (and settlement).

I think your point is proven though. You can’t really spend money on Twitter until it evolves further. At present the best way to spend your money, without using high risk illegal initiatives, is to spend it on resources around the platform. So pretty much what everyone else is saying.

Again, great question.

From Peter Lucas on July 7th, 2010 at 2:01 am

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