Twitter recently announced in a blog post that a new phase in their Self-Serve Ad platform will roll out in late March. Twitter users already see promoted tweets from companies who were involved earlier in the somewhat "beta" style platform testing, and will begin to see more in the near future.
Now, Twitter is partnering with American Express to offer the same tools to small businesses (as long as they are an American Express Cardmember). To sweeten the deal, (and entice small businesses) Amex will give $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 eligible businesses who sign up.
Soon, small businesses based in the United States will have the chance to take their Twitter marketing efforts to a new level. Starting in late March, we will introduce a new advertising offering that makes it simple for companies of any size to grow their businesses using our Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts products.
In November 2011, Twitter released its long anticipated Self-Serve Platform to a "handful" of companies. They were careful to state that as a private company, they will take their time in growing the advertising aspect of the platform. Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO, said the company wants "control of our own destiny" and is in no rush to take the company public within any kind of financial window. He also noted "We want to be able to remain independent and not beholden to the public markets until we want to be."
Twitter, a private company, doesn’t disclose the amount of revenues it currently draws from advertising. However, eMarketer estimates that Twitter’s overall revenues — which are primarily from advertising — will hit $259.9 million in 2012.
Twitter and Facebook both released new advertising solutions at the end of February, conspicuously close to one another. Facebook will now offer log-out ads in addition to analytics tools built in to business pages. "We are evolving from ads to stories," Facebook's director of global business marketing Mike Hoefflinger told the roughly 900 marketers in attendance at last Wednesday's fMC event in New York.
How much of this is actually competition between Twitter and Facebook, versus an attempt to keep up with growing platforms like Google+ and Pinterest? It seems that revenue driven from advertisements seem to be essential to the free services.
What does this mean for your company? For small businesses, the question is how to balance resource and fund allocation between content development, paid advertising, and platform reach.