Happy Birthday to you! Love Twitter xx

Twitter announced earlier this week that you can now submit your date of birth in your account settings, which you can display on your public profile, or just to your followers, or even keep it private just so that Twitter can send you a nice message on your birthday…

Sounds very nice and friendly doesn’t it?

Single posh gift

It’s worth noting that adding your birthday details is entirely optional – Twitter isn’t going to force it’s users to tow the line, at this stage at least, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that Twitter wanting to show it’s users “more relevant content, including ads??? means that this social media platform is taking the need to monetise itself a lot more seriously these days.

As part an agency who uses Twitter advertising on behalf of clients – the geeky part of my heart leaps at the thought of more accurate targeting for promoted tweets. Whilst there are some great features available to help target tweets to the most relevant users already, Twitter undoubtedly currently falls several miles behind Facebook’s ability to laser-target ads at those most likely to click on them.

I’m a slightly cynical sort by nature, but the first time I ever used Facebook for paid advertising, even I was slightly shocked by the amount that Facebook knows about its users. Whatever privacy settings you may have which stop strangers seeing information on your profile, whatever things you hide from your timeline and whatever you write to your friends in private messages, Facebook has access to everything, and undeniably uses it for advertising purposes.

Twitter isn’t anywhere near that stage yet. Maybe it never will be. However the advancements they have made in the last 12 months in terms of new targeting options, analytics dashboards and making lots and lots of geeky data available for free, means that more and more marketers will be attracted to leverage branded content on Twitter to reach a more relevant audience, track how successful they are being and attribute ROI to their tweet activity.

Twitter analytics snapshot

A key point is that Twitter is now a lot ‘cheaper’ than it used to be to advertise through. Whilst the days of requiring a large monthly spend just to get an ad account are long gone, the cost per clicks are generally now a lot more ‘reasonable’ even than a year ago – depending on a wide range of variables of course. Still a much better platform for encouraging engagement and content sharing than for website traffic driving and converting direct sales, Twitter is narrowing that gap somewhat by offering ever more precise targeting than ever before. For example, a quick look in their ‘audience insights’ enables you to see which TV show genres your audience are watching and tweeting about. You can then target specific ads to certain users watching particular TV shows or genres whilst they are on air. The more relevant the users that you reach with your great content, the more likely they are to engage and take the action that you want.

Twitter TV genres targeting

Will an increase in the data they hold on their users, and potentially a large increase in the amount of ads appearing, actually drive consumers away from using the platform altogether? Only time will tell, and I think it will take a lot more than date of birth-type data to do so. Facebook has undoubtedly lost users in the last few years, which many people attribute to its dubious use of people’s data and ambiguity over privacy, but it’s still ‘worth’ more than $230 billion to Twitter’s $23 billion or so. I think Twitter would have to make some pretty major and unpopular changes before we see a significant loss of active users.

In the meantime, maybe Twitter will help me remember more of my friends and family’s birthdays?