Presidential Candidates Use Promoted Tweets to Sway Voters in Real Time

While Republican presidential candidates exchange barbs at the GOP debates, another battle is developing behind the scenes as digital strategists use promoted tweets to influence voters in real time as they digest the day’s breaking political news. Twitter rolled out its political-advertising products in September with a pilot group of five presidential candidates and national political party committees.. The company is ramping up its political-ad sales effort for the 2012 election cycle, when campaigns are projected to spend a record $6 billion.”

Last Thursday night marked the last Republican debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and the second in which Mr. Perry’s team has deployed promoted tweets. According to Mr. Perry’s online strategist, Vincent Harris, the team has been changing up tweets in the course of the debates based on what’s said. They have seen interaction rates of better than 2% — “which you cannot get on any other platform,” he said.

The primary goal of the team’s promoted tweets on Thursday was to drive traffic to Establishment Insider, a Perry-backed site that accuses Mr. Romney and Newt Gingrich of sharing the president’s propensity for reckless spending.

Mr. Harris said that he ran through his Twitter budget for the debates in an hour but that the @TeamRickPerry account was back up this past weekend with a promoted campaign targeting users through Twitter search and dropping tweets in users’ timelines. (Twitter allows for targeting to an account’s followers as well as users deemed similar to them, then by designated market area within the U.S.) Mr. Harris intends to target more specifically for Iowans with tweets from Mr. Perry’s statewide bus tour.

“These ads are incredibly effective in pushing people through links to some piece of content,” Mr. Harris said, adding that he thinks Twitter’s political-ad products will put pressure on Google, Facebook and Bing to speed up their approval processes.

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