Let your Facebook and Twitter Advertising Plans Complement One Another

Let your Facebook and Twitter Advertising Plans Complement One Another

By Robert Kaplan • August 5, 2015

Facebook is undoubtedly the true giant of social networks; a platform that digital advertisers have undoubtedly heard about, tested, and probably found success using. As advertisers push to new platforms many are looking to Twitter, whose advertising interface may be the second most sophisticated in the social network space today.

The endgame for a digital marketer is to appropriately allocate money to hit her desired KPI’s. Facebook and Twitter have overarching differences in a number of key execution components and information distribution (covered below). While they can be used separately to hit marketing KPI’s, today’s savvy marketer will use them in unison to help each platform become more efficient. If you are thinking about a separate strategy for Facebook and Twitter, we would encourage you to think again.

The differences between Facebook & Twitter

Facebook and Twitter differ in a number of key ways, including the homepage, targeting capabilities and best practices, and inventory delivery. For the purposes of understanding how to use these two platforms in conjunction with one another, it makes sense to examine a couple key differences.


Facebook News Feed: The news feed is curated to show the user her most relevant information about friends and the businesses that she likes or follows. Information is delivered not based on a timeline, but rather whether the platform thinks it interests you. The benefit of this is that Facebook has a personalized feel that provides information about friends and family and therefore the native ads have the feel of being recommended by the users most trusted companions (and many times it is). However, it is difficult to target timely events because information is not delivered in a timeline and the content is personally focused.

Targeting Capabilities: The bread and butter of Facebook targeting is found in custom audiences and look-a-like audiences. That means gathering data on your potential customers using CRMs, the Facebook SDK, or a different third party source. With this data, you can either target these people directly with ads or build “look-a-likes”, audiences that Facebook’s algorithm deem are similar to the uploaded audience.  This capability has been invaluable to Facebook marketers since it helps hone in on similar users. (Note: You can read more about look-a-like audiences in this blog post.)

The other main targeting type is likes and interests. This is where Facebook becomes a little trickier, and can receive help from your Twitter campaign. Here, marketers target people who have indicated their interests by liking something in the category on Facebook or by clicking from Facebook to an off-site link in that category. The benefit is that it can target a larger population than custom audiences and can provide marketers insights into the company’s customers. The downside is “likes” do not always indicate a person’s current interests. “Liking” something on Facebook does not correlate to delivering content (like following someone on Twitter), therefore few people unlike something as their interests change. For example, my current Facebook indicates that I “like” the band Creed, but that was a long time ago (I will admit that I attended one of their concerts way back in 2004). Needless to say, if StubHub directed hard rock tickets to my news feed, I would not bite.

Delivery: Dependent on your account and bid type, delivery can vary in Facebook. If a marketer has a long standing account that is spending well on Facebook and is focused on downstream metrics (for which oCPM and CPA bid types are best), newly loaded ads can take a couple days or maybe even longer to pick up significant traffic. This is due to Facebook’s algorithm opting towards ads that have a history that can be used as the basis for performance. As such, testing out new target audiences can take a while, and marketers should plan to allow up to a week to test campaign performance.


Twitter Timeline: Twitter is first and foremost a site to deliver news. Users generally follow a high percentage of people they have never met. Information is delivered on a timeline dependent on the accounts that you follow.  The benefit of this for marketers is that a user’s Twitter feed is dominated by information from third parties, as opposed to friends and families, and therefore your ad may feel even more “native.” Your ads can blend with other information being delivered and you can focus on fitting your advertisements into timely events or talking points. The drawback here is that you lose the sense of familiarity and recommendation that might arise from placing your ad within a more personal environment like a user’s Facebook news feed.

Targeting: Twitter’s response to custom audiences is called “tailored custom audiences.” To date, these have not provided much volume and are not really a best practice when using the Twitter platform. The two best ways to target are by using keyword and followers.

Keyword targeting on Twitter is a great way to unlock advertising for specific events. As an e-commerce marketer, you may want to target basketball shoes at the hashtag #2015NBAFinals to have your ad appear in relevant content. This is effective because if you use popular keywords and hashtags they will continuously appear at the top of user’s timelines if they are being mentioned time and again. The downside of this is that your ad will fall out of favor once the event has passed.

In my opinion, follower targeting is the best lever to use on Twitter, and the one that will help with Facebook the most. This targets users who follow an account. Essentially, it is a more up-to-date version of likes and interests targeting. Let’s take my example from Facebook. Twitter delivers messages from the people I follow; I do not follow Creed since I am not interested in what they have to say (and, in case you were wondering, they broke up). I do however follow Jay Bilas because I love college basketball, and if StubHub targeted Jay Bilas followers with an ad for college basketball tickets I would be interested in it. Follower targeting is a very accurate way to understand what your customer’s interests are.

Delivery: I refer to ads on Twitter as shooting stars. When a marketer launches ads on Twitter she will know almost immediately if they are going to work. Volume comes extremely quickly and can give a great read on results. That said, unlike Facebook it is more difficult to have a stable of high performing ads on Twitter. Many of your best tweets will have their volume fall off after a couple days to a week (hence my shooting star analogy). This means that when using Twitter, you will need to do more consistent ad refreshes, but it is also a great platform for ad testing.

What this means for you?  

Well it is pretty simple. Facebook is the social media giant; the sophisticated platform that has proven its ability to drive results for sophisticated advertisers. At the same time, Twitter is a viable platform in its own right, and a great testing ground for your digital ads. Twitter’s quick delivery allows marketers to test their copy and creative much more quickly than Facebook. A savvy marketer can find winning ads on Twitter and then transition them to Facebook, helping remove less efficient ads out of the gate.

Further, Twitter’s follower targeting is a more accurate way to understand the preferences of your target audience. By finding winning follower targeting on Twitter, you can transition it to Facebook to more accurately target likes and interests. This can save you money on poor targeting, and help you get a more accurate picture of your customers.

On the flipside, do not disregard the learnings you already have from Facebook. Facebook and Twitter have significant overlap in users, and for marketers just testing the waters on Twitter using your Facebook data is a great place to start. High performing images, copy, and likes and interest targeting should be used as a starting point to kick of your advertising plans. At the end of the day bear in mind that while Facebook and Twitter may have unique differences, those differences complement each other in ways that can really benefit your business.