Promoted Tweets vs Facebook Ads – What’s Right for Your Brand?

A client of ours asked a question recently regarding a social media plan a group of us had put together for an upcoming product launch. They wanted to know why we had allocated a higher spend to Twitter Promoted Tweets than to Facebook Ads. A very legitimate question indeed, so why did I pause before answering?

After a few thoughtful seconds, I explained why we were weighting Promoted Tweets heavier than Facebook Ads. This, despite the fact that their Facebook page has nearly 3x the number of fans (over 100K) as Twitter followers.  Yes, logic might conclude, “Hey, if we can reach 3x the number of potential customers, why not spend more money there?” But in this particular case, for this type of product launch, we decided to give Twitter the benefit of the doubt. Because in the end it came down to one thing: engagement. Not “likes” or “follows” but more valuable forms of engagement like shares, comments, replies & retweets.

At a very high level, it doesn’t take long to witness the direct impact from either a Facebook or Twitter ad buy, as illustrated below, on likes and followers:

Facebook: (this particular buy was directing traffic to a custom FB page which then sent visitors to a website):


twitter ads | seattle twitter advertising 


But to decide who should receive a larger chunk of the media budget, we needed to evaluate which platform drove more meaningful forms of engagement under similar conditions. Likes and follows are great (and depending on the campaign, can definitely be a goal), but in this case we need to be sure we’re going to reach an audience that is more likely to share the content we’re promoting, or at least engage in the tweet and/or post above and beyond a simple like or follow.

Facebook has greatly improved their reports to include “Actions”, providing far more insight into what happens post-click. (So much so that it’s a bit hard to understand – and in some cases, even believe.) We looked at a handful of geo-targeted campaigns, each with very similar content, and compared two relatively similar actions: shares/retweets and comments/replies. (Obviously these aren’t the same, but they provide some direction.) The results pointed to an obvious winner:

  • Promoted Tweets were nearly 41x more likely to be retweeted than a similar Facebook post was to be shared
  • Promoted Tweets were 5x more likely to generate a comment than a Facebook post

So we found Twitter’s audience more likely to engage in our posts based on just these two metrics. Not scientific by any means, but directional input. And to be fair, there are more forms of engagement that can happen directly in Facebook – photo views, video views, mentions & questions/answers to name a few. If we were to compare all forms of engagement, minus “likes”, “follows” AND ad clicks, Facebook actually outperformed Twitter in some past campaigns.

What about CTR you ask? Neither were worthy of bragging about, but here too, Twitter out did Facebook in recent campaigns: averaging .9% compared to .1%.

In the end, whether you fund Promoted Tweets and/or Accounts on Twitter or Facebook Ads, it has to, in part, depend on where your audience and demographic is spending their time. In addition, targeting different devices is playing a larger role in both platforms. We’re seeing significantly higher CTR on mobile ads in Facebook (in the range of 1-3%.) At the same time, CPMs are also much higher – think $8 CPM vs. $0.75 CPM on desktop.

Katy Tonkin About the author
  • Amy

    Facebook: (this particular buy was directing traffic to a custom FB page which than sent visitors to a website):

    Your “than” should be “then”

    October 17, 2012 at 8:05 am

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