Twitter launched its much-anticipated advertising platform this week, explaining how "promoted tweets" will show up in users' search results. So far, companies including Starbucks, Best Buy, and Virgin America, which are already active on Twitter, have signed up for the service.
The advertising model includes a "resonance score" plan, where Twitter users can have some control over which promoted tweets they see.
Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter, wrote on the company's blog that promoted tweets "must meet a higher bar – they must resonate with users," and those that are retweeted or replied to will be considered as having a higher resonance.
At first it seems as though mixing paid and authentic tweets would dilute the authenticity that many companies and brands strive for by being active on the site.
But Twitter's advertising platform has been long-awaited and expected. And Twitter deserves credit for trying to marry its monetization strategy with its core values –transparency and authenticity – which are also important to PR professionals.
The resonance scores will keep purely commercial and unpopular tweets at bay, and the company has introduced ways, including different colors, to note when tweets are "promoted."
Beyond the basic challenges, promoted tweets may actually help the PR industry.
With promoted tweets showing up at the top of search results, brands and companies will not get lost in the Twitter stream, which helps ensure messages reach desired audiences during critical times, such as a crisis.
The new service can also help PR professionals looking to stay on top of stories and communications via Twitter, where the real-time aspect can often bury the most important messages.