Twitter Ads And Your Personal Brand — An Experiment

Personal branding is now synonymous with career success, influence and expertise but, other than an article from April 2013 on The Verge, it’s difficult to find any information or advice on using Twitter advertising for personal branding campaigns.

Given that Twitter advertising campaigns seemed an affordable option for individuals and logically should provide an effective channel by which to target a relevant audience, it seemed strange that there wasn’t more information available on the subject.

Twitter display advertising in the UK alone has increased from 14 million in 2012 to an estimated 206 million in 2016. This growth can’t be luck, there must be something in it for me and my personal branding efforts!

Could Twitter advertising be a realistic tool for individuals to use or is it limited to businesses with larger budgets?

Twitter advertising for business

As an online marketer the campaigns I’ve created for our brand have seen great success on Twitter. For a relatively small budget and using a little creativity in adverts we’ve attracted new followers, increased engagement and a large number of impressions (great for brand visibility).
As a result of this success and ROI we now assign regular marketing budget to sponsored social activity.

Over roughly 3 months our campaigns have seen in excess of a million impressions and over twenty thousand engagements. This has led to goal conversions on our website and potentially new customers.

But what about for my personal use?

First things first. before I even started to create my first campaign I tidied up my twitter profile in readiness for, what I hoped, would be many new visitors.

I changed the aged header image to something more natural and ‘warm’ and also added some information to my profile to explain what I offered new followers.

This success got me thinking — could it be repeated on an individual level, not to sell a product or service in my case, but to promote my personal brand and presence on Twitter.

Setting up a Twitter advertising campaign’s fairly straight forward and there’s plenty of resource available online to research the process and best practices.

In its simplest form you choose the type of campaign to run, assign a budget, time period, your target audience (location, interest, gender etc) and what tweets you’ll use as your ‘adverts’.

You can also add more advanced selection criteria such as targeting the followers of specific accounts, pretty useful!

Once the campaign’s running it’s a case of monitoring and tweaking it to achieve the best results.

Twitter introduced the ability to monitor campaigns via the official mobile app not too long ago which makes it much easier to stay up to date with how your efforts are paying off.
Once a campaign is set up you can view it from the menu on the main Twitter stream screen.

The campaign creation

For my experiment I assigned a Follower campaign a total of £25 — £5 per day over 5 days (which spanned a weekend for completeness).
I felt this was a comfortable amount of money and a time period that would allow me to judge the success of the campaign fairly and also an opportunity to optimise it based on each days success or failure.

I chose as many target countries as I could (after all, photography spans the globe and isn’t restricted to certain countries or languages). I couldn’t figure out if there was a way to simply choose everything at once so I manually entered the names of as many countries as I could remember!

4 adverts were created initially, which would appear in the ‘Who to follow’ section of Twitter user’s screens.
Each of the tweets simply explained what content I shared (photography), but in a slightly different way. By creating three differing tweets it allowed me to AB test their success and adjust as necessary during the campaign.

I also targeted the followers of several key photography Twitter accounts that are very popular online and obviously followed by people interested in photography.

There’s an option to add an image to the tweets you’re creating for the campaign but Twitter advise against this as it “draws attention away from the ‘Follow’ button” which is, after all, your call to action.
I wasn’t sure at this point if I agreed with this advice but decided to heed it, if only initially.

Once I was happy with the campaign setup I saved it and then I waited to see the results of the first days advertising……..

The first day’s results

After only a few minutes of the campaign being live I had 24 new followers — great start!
The cost for this first wave of ‘engagements’ £1.44.

After a couple of hours the follower count had surpassed 50 for a total of £3.73, not bad value for money I reckon!

By the end of the first day, or at least the end of the first days budget, the results were in….

Day 1 results

7p per new follower, I like those stats!

One thing I did notice was that although I was very happy with the 72 new followers there were many more ‘engagements’ than follows. My only reasoning for this was that people were clicking on the advert to view my profile but not following me (my CTA)……. time for some adjustments.

· Should I add an image to attract attention?

· Should I tweak the text to something more personable or witty?

· Was there something on my profile that was preventing people from following, even though there was obviously an interest?

I decided to add an image from my portfolio to catch the attention of Twitter users. I’ve read enough marketing articles to know that images should, in fact, attract engagement. Whether or not it would work in this exact situation I didn’t know, but I was willing to find out.
Luckily I had a photo I’d previously taken of a camera lens so it was pretty relevant for the ad.

Day two

On the beginning of day 2 (before the second days campaign seemed to have started) I noticed only a couple of users had dropped off. This may not even have had anything to do with the campaign but it was great that the followers I paid for on the first day were still following! I must be doing something right :)

By lunchtime the days budget was used up but only 9 new followers? Cost per follower was up to 56p?
As I had the campaign set to automatically bid on my behalf I could only assume that there was some reason I had to bid a higher price on the second day.
The only change I had made was to add more accounts of which I wanted to target followers, so I removed these in the hope that it would make the third days bidding more successful.

The other three days

Days three four and five went pretty much the same way as day 2. It appears that the first day of the campaign was significantly more successful.
I wouldn’t like to speculate whether this is by design or not but it seems a bit odd that there’s such a huge difference in success.


The overall results of the campaign are below:

I have to say that if the success of the first day was repeated (or even something near) then I’d have been delighted.
I am somewhat disappointed but as most of the new follows are still following.

I can’t really complain with 102 new followers for £25 though.


If you have a small budget that you’re willing to invest in your personal brand then I would say that twitter adverts are worth it.
I would suggest maybe running a series of sporadic 1 day campaigns though.

Brand visibility is another consideration too. As well as the 102 followers the campaign also achieved over 46,ooo impressions, some of which were probably on brand accounts screens.

If you’re looking to get noticed by brands for job opportunities, and you get your profile optimised as such, then this type of personal marketing could work very well :)