Twitter ads going old school…?

Attention, corporations, brands and business entities of all kinds that find the idea of being able to invade people’s social media appealing, but the notion of actually having to interact with the unwashed masses somewhat less so: Soon, your long-standing nightmare may be coming to an end. According to reports, Twitter is currently testing a new system that will let accounts post “promoted Tweets” that will appear in the timelines of those you wish to see it without ever having to actually sending it to all of your followers first.

The distinction may be small, but it may be an important one. What the proposed change – noted by AdWeek here – will do is allow companies to create Tweets that exist solely as communiques intended for a specific mass audience from inception, without sharing that tweet with followers for whom the message isn’t intended. For example: Company X wants to promote Product X for the US, but knows that it isn’t yet available internationally. Instead of the current Twitter status quo, where Company X would have to send out a message saying “Product X is now available and you should all check it out, unless you live outside the US in which case never mind and sorry to both you” that then gets promoted across American Twitter users, they can create a targeted promoted tweet for Twitter users in the US only from the start, leaving non-American followers none the wiser.

In effect, it’s giving people the chance to use Twitter in a way that’s far closer to traditional targeted advertising, and further away from the socially minded broadcast area it currently exists in. So… is this a good thing?

For companies, definitely; it gives them the chance to focus advertising and promotional efforts more tightly, and avoid the frustrated responses of those who “shouldn’t” see particular messages for whatever reason (It also means that followers for your account won’t see promoted Tweets twice; first as the original source Tweet, and then as the promoted version that heads up timelines across the entire service). More control over the message + Less chance of annoying your existing fanbase definitely counts as a win anyone’s book.

For Twitter users, it’s essentially a zero-sum game; the promoted Tweets will still invade your timeline – presuming that you’re accessing Twitter through certain avenues, of course; my Twitter app for Mac doesn’t include them, oddly enough – but they’ll remain as easily ignorable as before, as well.

For Twitter, it’ll remain to be seen what effect this has; on the one hand, it certainly makes the platform more appealing to those looking to use it to push their product or service, but the move also removes normalizes Twitter as a promotional platform and – considering it mirrors a move Facebook made recently – makes the company seem more like followers in this area than leaders. Presuming, of course that the reports of the testing that’s been happening for the last three weeks turn out to be true…

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