Small businesses receive marketing help from Twitter

Earlier this month, Twitter announced its intention of allowing small businesses to grow their companies using Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts, according to its blog.

Given the amount of money it takes to advertise effectively on the social media website - the Boston Globe estimates this could amount to "tens of thousands of dollars" - Twitter was effectively limiting itself to a very narrow (albeit wealthy) market.

With this recent announcement, however, Twitter will be scaling down its ad platforms to make them "more user friendly, targeted and cheaper," the Globe adds.

The process will begin in late March, with American Express cardholders getting the first crack at it. Twitter recently partnered with AmEx and will offer $100 in free advertising credits for the first 1,000 eligible businesses to sign up with an AmEx account.

Twitter's initiative is similar to an offering Facebook rolled out back in September, when it gave $50 in free advertising credits to 200,000 small businesses, the news source notes in a separate article. This helped small- and medium-sized companies get started with their local internet marketing campaigns, as there's a predetermined rate a business is charged when a person clicks on an ad.

Similarly, Twitter's cost-per-click model charges companies only when action is taken on an ad - such as retweeting, responding or actually clicking on the link. By utilizing Promoted Tweets, businesses will be able to send their ads directly into targeted customers' Twitter streams, driving awareness to a specific site or offer.

"The online advertising landscape has become a ferocious ocean that's difficult to navigate and even more difficult to fish successfully in," the news source states. And with the plethora of advertising options out there beyond Facebook and Twitter - such as Yelp, Groupon and now Pinterest - managing cash flow and return on investment can become overwhelming.

The news source suggests businesses refrain from trying to be active on every site just for the sake of having an account.

"Putting your eggs into many different baskets without clear line of sight into what's coming in versus what's going out will never make for an effective marketing program," the media outlet explains.

Doing homework and even some minimal testing can boost a long-term bottom line, considering the size of a social media marketing investment.