The Guest Blog

Blog: Can Twitter Really Increase Awareness for a Business or Brand?

Natali Morris |Technology Contributor, CNBC

Can Twitter really increase awareness for a business or brand? Wendy's might think so. The hamburger company wins the Golden Tweet Award this year, which means one of its Twitter postings was the most retweeted Tweet of the year.

Notable this year is that Wendy's most retweeted Tweet was a Promoted Tweets. This is Twitter's advertising model that allows companies to pay for their promotional Tweets to be highlighted in users' timelines and search results.

"Promoted Tweets allow an advertiser to reach the right person with the right message at the right time," said Shane Steele, director of sales marketing at Twitter. "The power of Promoted Tweets reaching new audiences in a short period of time comes from the Retweet. Retweeting makes it possible for one message to reach millions of people regardless of how many followers an individual brand or user has."

The Tweet in question was part of a Wendy's Father's Day advertising campaign in June. It asked users to participate in the hashtag #TreatItFwd. For every time that the Tweet was retweeted, Wendy's donated 50 cents to The Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption, an organization that helps foster children find permanent homes. The Tweet is still fairly active with several retweets per day six months later. It has since raised $50,000.

The #TreatItFwd campaign was such a success for Wendy's that a Tweet from the same campaign was the second most retweeted Tweet of the year. The campaign was big buzz for Wendy's charity but it would be telling to see if the company sold more hamburgers as a result. Subliminal advertising does seem rather powerful to me and I find myself wanting a cheeseburger as I click through to Wendy's Twitter page but I am four months pregnant so I might not count.

"Of the 60 billion Tweets that people shared on Twitter this year, the fact that a Promoted Tweet was retweeted the most indicates that advertisers like @Wendys are getting things right," writes the company on the Twitter blog. "When the message matters to people, a Promoted Tweet no longer seem like an ad--instead, it’s content that you want to share."

Promoted Tweets was the first attempt by Twitter to monetize the popular microblogging service. It launched in April of 2010 with brands such as Starbucks, Bravo, and Virgin America. Users see Tweets that are clearly marked as promotions if Twitter deems them relevant to each user based on their likes, dislikes, and habits. Users can dismiss Promoted Tweets that they find irrelevant. Twitter learns to target each user better based on their interaction with the Promoted Tweet such as whether or not they click the link in the promotion, retweet the Tweet, or dismiss the promotion altogether.

Last year's Golden Tweet Award did not go to a Promoted Tweet. In the award's inaugural year, the winner was Comedy Central talkshow host Stephen Colbert for his Tweet that referenced the Gulf Oil Spill.

Natali Morris is a technology contributor to CNBC. Previously she was the technology contributor to The CBS Early Show and a technology news anchor and reporter for CNET TV. She has covered technology since 2008. She is born and bred in the Silicon Valley but reports from the New York City area.

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