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How to Use Twitter Ads: A Simple Guide Watch Overview

How to Use Twitter Ads: A Simple Guide

Most of the attention for online advertising goes to Facebook (with Instagram alongside) and Google.

Yet the amount spent on advertising on Twitter has not far off doubled over the past five years, from an average USD$562 million per quarter in 2016, to an average USD$1,031 million per quarter in 2021.

Advertising on Twitter per quarter 2013 to 2021, in million US$, source Statista

In other words, for a lot of businesses, advertising on Twitter is working well.

Maybe that’s partly because, according to Twitter’s statistics, people spend 26% more time looking at ads on Twitter than other top platforms.

When did you last consider advertising on #Twitter? People spend 26% more time looking at ads on Twitter than other top platforms.Click To Tweet

Or that:

  • 93.3% of users that follow SMBs on Twitter plan to purchase something from them.
  • 68.7% have purchased from an SMB one or more times because of Twitter.

Either way, it’s time to give advertising on the platform another look.

This guide shows you how to use Twitter ads, one of the best online advertising platforms available, including:

  • The benefits of advertising on Twitter...
  • The different types of ad you can use...
  • A 5-step guide to getting your first campaign up and running on the platform.

Let's get started...

Benefits of Advertising on Twitter

1. You Pay for Performance

While there is an option to pay on a per-thousand impressions basis, you’ll mostly only pay per actual result.

For most Twitter ads, you pay for performance rather than impressions. In other words, you'll pay per follower or per click rather than CPM. #twittermarketingClick To Tweet

For example, if the objective you choose is Followers, you’ll pay per follower.

You pay for performance with Twitter’s ads, such as per follower

Or if you choose Website clicks, you’ll pay per click,

For the website clicks objective, you’ll pay for each link click you attract

It’s the same with other objectives, such as App installs, Engagements and so on.

2. Lower Ad Costs

Although costs are likely increasing as advertising on the platform grows, costs are still significantly cheaper on Twitter than other networks.

For example, the average cost per click on Twitter is reported to be $0.38, compared to $0.97 on Facebook or $1.50 on Pinterest.

Twitter ads have much lower costs than other main social media platforms

3. Target Tailored Audiences

Twitter has a couple of main options for audience targeting—custom audiences and targeting follower look-alike audiences.

Create custom audiences in Twitter you can advertise to. For example, create an audience based on visitors who've taken a specific action on your website. #webtrafficClick To Tweet

Custom Audiences

Within your Twitter Ads account, you can create custom audiences that you can then use for targeting ads.

Target custom audiences in Twitter ads

These might be based on lists such as user email addresses, or even the @handles of Twitter users.

For example, you might want to reach:

  • Specific influencers.
  • Users you know may have an interest in what you’re selling, potentially then extending this audience via Twitter’s Include look-alikes… feature (see image above).

You can also create audiences by using Twitter’s website tag. This is essentially a piece of code you add to your site that tells Twitter when visitors have visited your site or maybe taken certain actions while there.

Follower Look-Alike Audiences

Target Twitter ads at people who ‘look like’ followers of one or more accounts.

How to use Twitter ads? Try targeting follower look-alikes

For example, this means you can target the followers (and similar Twitter users) of competing businesses, building awareness of your own products and services.

In the same way, you can target @handles of accounts where followers are interested in specific topics relevant to your business.

Twitter recommends adding around 30 @handles if you’re using this type of targeting.

4. Target Keyword-Based Interests

Target users on Twitter based on what they’ve searched for on the platform, along with keywords in their recent Tweets or Tweets they’ve otherwise engaged with.

Twitter recommends adding at least 25 keywords to a campaign if using this targeting option.

Keyword targeting in Twitter ads

Twitter Ad Types

The two main ad types relevant to small businesses on Twitter are as follows.

Promoted Ads

These are one of the most common sorts of ad on Twitter, and are essentially promoted Tweets.

In fact, Twitter users who have switched to a Professional Profile can create a Promoted Ad directly from one of their previous Tweets.

Click the Promote button to create a Promoted Ad on Twitter

Promoted Ads appear in the timeline like a normal Tweet, and can be liked, replied to, retweeted and so on just like any other Tweet—except they show a small bit of text just below to indicate it’s an ad.

Promoted tweet text indcates ad

As well as the timeline, they can appear on search results pages and on relevant user profiles.

In brief, Promoted Ads operate a bit like the Boost Post facility on Facebook.

You can use them to extend the reach of your Tweets significantly based on the targeting options you apply.

Follower Ads

As you’d expect, follower ads are designed to help you grow your Twitter followers.

You might see them in the timeline or in search results:

Twitter follower ads might appear in the main feed

As well as in the sidebar on desktop:

Twitter follower ads can also appear in the sidebar on desktop

How to Use Twitter Ads: 5 Simple Steps

1. Create Your Twitter Ads Account

If you’re not yet signed up with Twitter ads, create your account by clicking to create an ad on their Twitter Business site.

(Otherwise, head straight to and skip to #2 below)

Create a Twitter ads account by clicking to create an ad

Choose your country and time zone (note you can’t change this later), and click the button.

Select your country and time zone at Twitter ads

2. Choose Your Ads Objective

The first stage in creating an ad campaign on Twitter is to choose your objective.

For most small businesses, the four main options are as follows:

  • Video views—getting people to watch your video
  • Website clicks—driving traffic to your website
  • Engagements—encouraging engagement with your Tweet
  • Followersgrowing your Twitter followers

Choose your Twitter ads objective

If you have an app, you may also be interested in the App installs and App re-engagements options.

The Reach option is aimed more at large brands. This objective is unlikely to deliver cost-effective results for smaller businesses.

Choose the most appropriate objective for your goals, and click Next.

3. Enter Your Campaign Details

This is where you:

  • Enter a campaign name...
  • Set your budget...
  • Set start date, and optional end date.

Enter campaign details for your Twitter ads

If you’re just getting started with Twitter ads, I’d recommend to:

  • Start out with a low daily budget ($5 - $10).
  • Leave the total budget empty.
  • Leave the start date as it is, so your campaign can start immediately.
  • Don’t set an end date.

That means your campaign can just continue to run, build some initial data, and you can get a feel for how the system works.

In future, as you become more familiar with it, you can increase your budget as required, or pause the campaign at any time.

Click Next to enter details for your first ad group.

4. Enter Ad Group Details

A campaign can contain one or more ad groups, each with different details such as bidding, who you’re targeting, placement information and Creatives (in other words, the ads that are shown).

Ad Group Name

Enter a suitable name for the ad group for your own reference.

Enter a name for the ad group


In this section, it’s best to stick with the recommended selections to start with, and just start getting some data through.

So leave Total ad group budget empty, don’t specify a start or end time, and leave the Goal as it is for now.

In this example, Website clicks was chosen as the objective, and the Goal is set to Link clicks.

Leave the campaign goal at the default option to start with

The other option is Conversions, which would be useful to experiment with in future, testing results against the initial goal selection.

Next is the Bid Strategy. The Autobid option will be pre-selected, and again in future you can start to experiment with the other options, such as:

  • Setting a target cost—with this option, sometimes you’ll pay more, sometimes less, but over time it should roughly average out to the target cost you’ve specified.

Bid strategy in Twitter ads

  • Setting a maximum bid—in other words your cost per action (such as a click) will never exceed this amount. Worth experimenting with, but Target cost is likely a preferable option.


Next is where you provide demographic targeting information.

Set up demographic targeting for your Twitter ads campaign


If your customers are predominantly one gender or another, set that here.

Otherwise, leave it as Any for now—you can potentially experiment with separate female- or male-only campaigns in future.


Ads can be shown to Twitter users 13 years or older, but that might not represent your best customers.

If you know that you sell predominantly to a particular age bracket, set that here.

Set the age range of people you want your ads to be shown to


You can narrow down location to cities, states or whole countries.

Target your Twitter ads at specific locations

If you sell to multiple countries, it’s preferable to target just one country per campaign as you’ll find results differ markedly.

You can then test per country and get the best results from your ad dollar.


Most of the time you won’t need to use this, unless your ads target a specific language that isn’t common in your targeted locations.

For example, you would use this if you were targeting Spanish-language ads to Australia.


You can target devices right down to individual device models and carriers.

Most of the time, you won’t need to use those options. But it’s likely that you’ll get optimal results by having separate campaigns for mobile devices and desktop, simply because:

  • Users react and behave very differently between mobile and desktop.
  • Bidding will be different depending on device.

Create separate campaigns for desktop and mobile on Twitter ads

You might find for example that you have a very profitable campaign on mobile, but can’t make it work on desktop (or vice versa).

Without separate campaigns, this type of data would distort the whole campaign, and you could completely miss the potential for running it successfully.

Custom Audiences

As mentioned previously, you can create custom audiences within Twitter that you can then target with advertising.

Use Twitter ads’ custom audiences

To create a new audience, go to Tools > Audiences from the menu.

Go to Tools > Audiences from the menu

Click to create a new audience, and then select one of the options and follow the instructions provided.

Choose an audience type for your custom audience

You can combine custom audience targeting with additional targeting as follows, or just use one or the other option.

If you’re unsure, just experiment to start with, and then refine and improve as you go along.

Targeting Features

Targeting features in Twitter ads

Twitter’s targeting features allow to you target users based on:

  • Keywords—based on what users have searched for, tweeted, or Tweets they’ve engaged with. Keywords can be included or excluded.
  • Follower look-alikes—people who are ‘like’ followers of different Twitter accounts, such as what they have tweeted, retweeted, clicked on, and so on.
  • Interests—based on what people have tweeted and retweeted, clicked on, who they follow, and other indicators of interest. While not as extensive as Facebook advertising, Twitter have multiple interests listed under different categories to select from.

Select interests to target Twitter users with ads

  • Movies and TV shows—based on whether someone tweets about a movie or show when it’s on air. Start typing, and relevant shows from around the world will appear to select from.

Target Twitter users based on the shows or movies they watch

  • Events—a Twitter users interest in a particular event is measured by multiple indicators, such as what they tweet or engage with. Events include holidays like Christmas, sports events, and even ‘Recurring trends’ based on popular recurring Twitter hashtags
  • Conversation topics—Twitter have over 10,000 conversation topics to choose from, and you can target users involved in them over the past 28 days
  • Users who saw or engaged with your previous Tweets

In addition, you can specifically target your own followers.


While the placement of your ads on timelines is selected by default, you can also select to show ads on profiles and within search results.

Select whether Twitter ads are shown on profiles and search results, in addition to timelines

Although Twitter recommends to select all these options, it’s best to restrict it to home timelines only to start with, as the other options can distort results.

Once you’ve got enough data to know how your ads are performing, experiment with the other options to see if they improve or worsen results.

Twitter Audience Platform

At the time of writing, there are options to “extend your reach to the Twitter Audience Platform”.

However, this is likely to soon be withdrawn following Twitter’s sale of the MoPub ad network on which this option was based, so won’t be further covered here.


Twitter ad creatives - create a promoted-only tweet

Finally, you either create the Tweets you want to use for the campaign (“Promoted-only Tweets"), or select from organic Tweets that have either been published already, or are scheduled for future publication.

Select from organic, scheduled or promoted-only Tweets

If you select to create a Promoted-only Tweet, you’ll be taken to Twitter’s Tweet Composer that gives you all the options, including a preview of how your Tweet will look.

The Tweet composer tool in Twitter ads

Create or select at least two or three Tweets to use as ad creatives.

Even slight differences between ads can have a significant impact on how they perform, and you want to be able to continually test different ads against each other.

With Twitter ads, continually test different creatives and campaigns. See what your audience best responds to and ramp up performance. #marketingtipsClick To Tweet

5. Review and Launch Your Campaign

Click Next, and the final screen will show you all the options you’ve selected so far, enabling you to edit them as required.

When you’re ready, click the Launch campaign button.

Launch your Twitter ads campaign

Final Tips for Advertising Successfully on Twitter

1. Test—and Keep Testing

In the early days of advertising on Twitter, you’re largely collecting data—so don’t expect an easy home run.

Over time, by continually testing different creatives and campaigns, including different ad options, you’ll be able to see what your audience best responds to and what tends to give you the highest ROI.

This is how you create highly profitable campaigns you can then scale.

2. Avoid Emotionally-Led Decisions

Twitter ads can run poorly one week, and then start working really well for a few weeks.

While it’s tempting to turn off ads at the first sign of trouble, decisions made on the basis of just a few days’ worth of data may prove costly over the long run.

Focus on overall trends and directions over time, rather than snap decisions made on daily movements up or down in your results.

3. Aim for Continual Improvement

If you’re new to Twitter ads, there will inevitably be a learning curve involved, and you won’t have a perfect campaign from day one.

Be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars on simply learning the system, including what works and doesn’t work.

Keep a close watch on your ads, and aim to continually improve how your campaigns perform over time.

As performance improves and becomes profitable, start to gradually scale up your ad expenditure so that you reach increasing numbers of your audience.

To Conclude

This post has shown you how to use Twitter ads, including the benefits of advertising on Twitter, the different ad types available, a 5-step guide to using the platform, and some final tips on how to run Twitter ads successfully.

If you’ve not used Twitter ads before, it may have seemed a bit intimidating—but hopefully, with the above info in hand, you can now launch your first ad campaign on Twitter with confidence.

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Steve Shaw is the founder of EverywhereMarketer, and has ran online businesses for over 20 years, serving over 13,000 customers in 137 countries. EverywhereMarketer helps you grow online visibility, attract more customers and grow your business across multiple channels.

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