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Twitter’s New Model: Share Ad Dollars With Top Tweeters

I’m obsessed with Twitter’s new public analytics tool and what it could mean for the future of the company. If you haven’t already checked out the Twitter analytics feature, go check it out now. All you have to do is be logged in to to Twitter and click here. I’ve been open with all of Outkick’s Google analytics data before so I thought I’d share the data on my Twitter analytics. (The data updates every day and the default setting gives you a 28 day window to analyze). Over the last 28 days I’ve had 13.1 million impressions with an engagement rate of 7%. You guys have clicked on my Twitter links 227,700 times, favorited 18,100 Tweets, and retweeted me 14,000 times. According to Twitter analytics my top ten largest Twitter followers by state are Tennessee, Alabama, Kansas, Texas, Georgia, Missouri, California, Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois. My biggest Twitter overlap comes with Adam Schefter, 44% of you follow him as well, followed by ESPN, SportsCenter, Kirk Herbstreit, College Gameday, Chris Mortensen, Paul Finebaum, Chris Fowler, and Bruce Feldman. But the most fascinating part of the data is the engagement rate with Tweets. What do you guys actually click on and interact with and what do you not?

I have no idea whether my data is unique or commonplace — no one else in sports media to my knowledge has publicized their Twitter activity — , but I find myself checking the data at least twice a day now just to see how my Tweets have been received. A high interaction rate is obviously a sign that you’re doing something right on the Twitter machine, a low interaction rate means the opposite — you’re probably Tweeting too frequently without many people paying attention to what you’re saying.

Aside from providing an instructive tool for individual users, Twitter’s new analytics tool also raises many intriguing possibilities for the future of the company’s business. I’ve been a diehard Twitter proponent for years. Three years ago, I wrote that the future of sports media belonged to Twitter. You can go read that article today. It’s still every bit as true. I’ve invested a substantial amount of my retirement savings in Twitter stock. I’m a Twitter true believer. That’s because Twitter allowed sites like Outkick the Coverage to thrive. It used to be that distribution was the biggest obstacle to getting your content to the masses, no longer. Twitter empowered the individual writer more than any invention since the computer. You are your brand. Not who employees you, not where you went to school, not who you know, Twitter’s you, it follows you everywhere. If people don’t read what you write, there’s really no one to blame but yourself.

While it has been great for individual users and for the growth of the company, Twitter’s just begun to unleash the monetization power of its vast network of users. I’m confident that monetization plan will work, but how can it be the most effective possible? Right now there are promoted Tweets and a variety of additional advertising mechanisms that promise to deliver customers to products. Plus, celebrities will Tweet out sponsored Tweets into their user feeds. But those sponsored Tweets can’t be that effective in the grand scheme of things. What’s the yield on click-thrus there, infinitely less than 1% for sure. I’m sure that Twitter’s sponsored Tweets aren’t highly effective either.  

So how can Twitter make advertising more effective? Clearly, Twitter analytics are a big part of the plan. The better you can target specific users with specific products, the more effective those ads are. And the more effective those ads are, the more Twitter can charge for them. So what’s next? I’ve been thinking about this ever since I began to explore my own Twitter analytics page last week. After all, thirteen million Twitter impressions in less than a month adds up to a substantial value if its coupled with the right advertiser outreach. Thinking about this has led me to ask a fundamental question: why can’t Twitter enter into advertising partnerships with individual users and sell ads for them based on the data of who follows them? Twitter can tell companies exactly which accounts to target to figure out how to reach their customers and then it can serve as the broker connecting advertisers and verified users. Sure, it could deliver that data without involving the individual accounts the companies want to reach, but how much more powerful would the ads be if individual Twitter users were also empowered by the relationships and entered into a partnership with the advertiser to help advance the advertisers interests too?

If you’re a writer like me, why can’t a company sponsor your individual Twitter account? It could be a car company that wants to reach college football fans, or a beer or liquor company that wants outreach to a targeted demographic of Alabama fans who think I’m gay; it could be a gambling odds company, a sports movie that’s coming out soon or a hotel that knows I spend half the weekends in the year on the road. I mean there are tons of companies that would love to have their brand in front of the audiences on Twitter and there are tons of brands that connect with my lifestyle. The same could be true of everyone else in the writing business. Whether you’re writing for a large audience or covering a team in a particular market, advertisers are probably trying to reach your readers too. 

Sure, some writers will recoil from the idea of signing an endorsement deal with particular products, but I’m not one of the them. Your audience is smart enough to understand that you have to monetize your work. Instead of a large business selling the ads on the homepage that employs you, why couldn’t you sift through a profile of companies trying to reach your readers and pick the best fit for price and connection? Are you really planning on writing an expose on Marriott hotel rooms or Coke products? This also goes a long way towards rectifying a perceived flaw of the modern Internet company — that they use you to make billions while providing limited benefits to the most valuable users. I happen to think this critique is flawed — Twitter has been invaluable to creating Outkick, which unlocked a host of value for me even if the company has never paid me anything — but the partnerships between verified or popular Twitter users and advertisers actually creates more value than an arms-length relationship would. Advertisers will pay more for a more effective connection which makes it more profitable for the company and for users.   

Go look at your Twitter feed now. It’s a relatively plain looking and static feed, right? Given that Twitter is now the front page of the Internet for tens of millions of people, why not allow who sponsors you to be more self-evident? Would I support allowing my profile picture to morph into a Home Depot logo for the right amount of money? Sure. Could a border with a company’s logo surround any picture I tweet out? Definitely. If I get advance screenings of a new TV show or movie would I be perfectly willing to Tweet out a link to that new TV show or movie’s trailer as well as having my Twitter border advertise that show? Of course. All of these would be invaluable connections in a social media era. Would they make me any worse at my job? Of course not. (Some would say that’s because I’m already awful at what I do). My point is simple, Twitter’s new analytics feature is the entry point to a brave new world of advertising. Old media rules no longer apply and it’s time to be as creative as the medium allows. If Twitter can create partnerships with top Tweeters in advertiser-desired markets, everyone truly wins.       

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.