It wasn’t that long ago that Twitter was just another tech start-up with a modest user base and uncertain prospects for revenue (let alone profitability). But the micro-blogging service has seen explosive growth over the past few years, and a multi-billion dollar IPO is now inevitable.
The founders and early investors aren’t the only ones who have made money off of Twitter; countless individuals and businesses have harnessed the power of social media to create new revenue opportunities. Below we’ll highlight some unique ways to make money off of Twitter, as well as review some inspiring success stories and best practices. (By the way, you may also be interested in our guides to making money on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, iPhone/Android, and with display ad networks).
Before we jump in, a quick note on the official Twitter guidelines: the platform doesn’t allow any third parties to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API. So the opportunities to place sponsored messages are still somewhat “old school” in that they must avoid the types of automation that have become ubiquitous on the Web.
It’s also worthwhile to highlight the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) view on making money through Twitter. In short, it’s A-OK as long as certain protocol is followed–specifically, identifying promoted tweets as ads and including the type of fine print that traditionally accompanies other types of ads. A lot of celebs have ignored these rules so far with no consequences, but it seems likely there will be a crackdown eventually.
Jump To Section:
- Making Money: Sponsored Tweets, Affiliate Marketing, Other Ways to Monetize Twitter
- Tools: 5 Recommended Tools, Best of Free Tools
- Further Reading: Twitter Monetization 101, Celebrity Sponsored Tweets, Successful Twitter Entrepreneurs, Business Success Stories, Promoting Products, Growing Your Audience, Comedy on Twitter, Affiliate Marketing, Finding a Job, Building Links, Paying for Twitter Love
Send Sponsored Tweets
Several celebrities have embraced Twitter as a way to make a few extra bucks; by sending out tweets promoting products of sponsors, the Kim Kardashians and Snoop Doggs of the world can generate as much as $10,000 for a single tweet (or about $72 per character).
Most Twitter users won’t be able to command anything near these figures, but there are still opportunities for Average Joes with moderate followings to make a few bucks by sending promotional tweets. Check out a few of the services that will let you turn your followers into cash:
- Become a TweetPeddler. This site lets you set a price for your tweets; if an advertiser bites, you’ll have an opportunity to make a few quick bucks in 140 characters or less. Check out the home page here for examples of prices some of the “featured” users command (from $2 to $70).
- Become a MyLikes Social Publisher. This program lets users share campaigns they like with their Twitter followers, and get compensated for quality clicks and views generated by each tweet.
- Become a PaidPerTweeter. This platform lets Twitter users offer up their services to advertisers at a customized price; if an advertiser likes your follower count and niche, you could be presented with an offer to participate in one of their campaigns.
- Set Up a SponsoredTweets.com Account. This platform works in a similar manner; users set a suggested charge per tweet, and are then able to participate in a campaign if a qualifying offer comes in.
Become an Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketing involves generating leads for “merchants” who ultimately make a sale to the referral you sent. In exchange for sending them an eventual customer, affiliates get cut in for a percentage of the revenue generated.
Many affiliate marketing programs can be applied to Twitter, but some simply work better on this platform than others given the manner in which tweets are consumed. Affiliate marketing is much more efficient when you have a website or blog to send the traffic through – see here on how to start your blog today.
- Join the Tweet Adder Affiliate Program. The affiliate program for this Twitter marketing and management software includes in-depth tutorials and strategy guides for getting started. Affiliates earn 50% commission on direct sales referred.
- Become an iTunes Affiliate. Apple has an affiliate program that allows affiliate marketers to earn 4% to 5% commission of the sale of songs on iTunes that come from their affiliate links. iTunes has historically accounted for a significant portion of affiliate marketing activity on Twitter, and a number of individuals have had success with this affiliate program across various platforms.
- Become a Groupon Affiliate. The Groupon affiliate program also lends itself to Twitter, where many users are interested in finding out about timely, local opportunities. Groupon affiliate marketers can earn up to 10% commissions for sales generated. Groupon is arguably one of affiliate marketing’s greatest success stories, and there are some good resources out there for those looking to get started. (Daily deals competitor Living Social also has an affiliate program that can be used through Twitter.)
- Become an Astrology.com Affiliate. This might seem like a less obvious opportunity, but Astrology.com is one of the largest merchants on Twitter. This merchant pays out a 25% commission on every sale referred to them, as well as commissions on any purchases made by a referring customer for the next six months.
Other Ways To Make Money On Twitter
If you have a product to sell online, you might want to consider utilizing Twitter as an opportunity for your affiliates to work. Reach out to some influential folks with substantial Twitter accounts in the space, and ask them if they’d be interested in an affiliate arrangement for any sales you ultimately close to their Twitter followers.
- Barter With It (Tweet Swapping). If you’re not comfortable becoming a merchant who partners with affiliate marketers, you may still be able to turn your Twitter following into sales. Consider a non-cash barter exchange with other users who have valuable followings; you tweet about their business or website, and they return the favor for you. This one won’t be applicable to everyone, but can be a creative way to generate a little buzz and expose your business to new potential customers without spending a cent.
- Build Links. One of the most valuable things you can get from your Twitter activity may be a link to your site(s). There’s obviously no money exchanged with a link, but there are some clear indirect benefits; links to your content will expose new audiences to your site, and may help you move up the search rankings as well. If done correctly, Twitter can be a great tool for highlighting the content you’ve published on the Web–and getting other users to send links to it. That can have a big payoff down the road, as it leads to more visitors and more potential customers.Check out further reading on link building with Twitter.
- Drive Traffic. If you run a website that makes money from display ads, on-site affiliate links, or a number of other monetization methods, Twitter can be a great tool for boosting revenue indirectly. Though you won’t be making money directly on Twitter, you have the opportunity to drive your Twitter followers to a place (i.e., your website) where you can make money from them (in the form of display ad revenue, or various other opportunities).
- Drive E-commerce Sales. If you have a product to sell on your website, Twitter can be a great way to get in front of potential customers by engaging in discussions on relevant topics and including links to your products. Many e-commerce companies use Twitter to offer special deals and advance opportunities to nab popular products. Below is an entire section of further reading dedicated to selling products on Twitter.
- Provide Customer Service. This might not make your company money directly, but there’s a huge opportunity to build goodwill and customer loyalty (and therefore future revenue) by using Twitter as a tool to provide quick customer service. Media Temple is one example of a company that has an active customer support team operating through its Twitter account. Note the impressive response time here:
Perhaps the highest profile example of utilizing Twitter to provide customer support features Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer lending a hand to frustrated members:Delta reportedly has a support team of 14 that monitors Twitter 24/7 for customer issues. Now that’s what we call service!
- Get a Job. Taking to Twitter isn’t what first comes to mind when starting a search for a new job–but maybe it should be. Many out-of-work individuals have had success finding new employment thanks to contacts made on Twitter. Here are a few of those success stories:
If you’re looking for a job and want to use Twitter in your search, check out our further reading on the topic. You might also want to take a look at TwitJobSearch, a service that allows users to search Twitter for job postings.
- Get Content Ideas. If you’re a writer or blogger who needs quality content ideas to drive your business, Twitter can be a great resource to let the inspiration come to you. The instant transmittal of information makes it a great place to find leads for quality stories and semi-exclusive content, as several outlets have already shown.
Odds of success monetizing a Twitter account go up significantly for those users able to take advantage of the awesome tools out there that aim to make navigating social media more manageable. As Twitter has taken off, so too has development of plug-ins, tools, and platforms to help users tweet more effectively.
Highlighting all of the useful tools out there would take a few thousand more words, so we’ll limit ourselves to a handful of them:
- TweetDeck: This dashboard application, which is available as Web or desktop version, interfaces with the Twitter API to let users send and view tweets.
- twitrand: This tool lets you randomly (i.e., fairly) select winners for contests you run on Twitter. If you’re using giveaways or other contests as a marketing tool on Twitter, this app can make your life a lot easier.
- CloudFlood: This tool lets users give away a product on their site (for example, an ebook) in exchange for a tweet or share. If you’re looking to use Twitter as a way to increase visibility of your blog or e-commerce site, CloudFlood can be a great way to spread the word.
- GroupTweet: This app lets multiple contributors tweet from the same account, a useful feature for anyone who tweets as part of an organization. A number of big organizations, from ABC to Syracuse University–have already jumped on board here.
- OfferPop: This app lets you hook your Twitter followers up with access to exclusive offers and content. If you have a product to sell and a group of followers that could be potential customers, this can be a great tool for making them feel loved (and increasing their odds of converting).
If you’re on the prowl for more Twitter tools, here are a few lists you might like to browse:
- 11 Websites to Schedule Your Tweets Online for Free.If you’re looking to auto-tweet on a budget, this list could be very useful.
- 10 Twitter Tools Used by Social Media Experts. Kristi Hines has a great overview of some of the most powerful and popular free Twitter tools.
- 66 Twitter Tools You Should Know About. This comprehensive list published by Ed Vawter is organized into categories such as analysis and reputation monitoring.
- 3 Twitter Analytics Tools that Work Well Together. Donna Raphael walks through some options for analyzing your Twitter account.
- TwiTip Twitter Tools. The team at TwiTip.com has a great collection of features on new Twitter tools; bookmark this page and return regularly to see what’s new out there.
- 10 Free Essential Twitter Tools for Power Users. Kristin Burnham demos 10 useful apps for the serious Twitter users out there.
- Free Twitter Tools You Should Know About. Victoria Devine shares a dozen of her favorite Twitter tracking apps.
Further Reading: Twitter Monetization 101
Now that we’ve covered several of the possibilities for generating revenue from Twitter, we’ll highlight some further reading on the various topics.
To start, below are several introductory articles that cover some of the basic economics of social media and the methods others have used successfully.
- Why #Hashtags are the Future of Social Media Monetization. Sangeet Paul Choudary shares some thoughts on the ongoing evolution in Web search and monetization techniques.
- Tying Tweets to Profits: Can 140 Characters Deliver ROI? This hour-long webinar from Social Media Today features a distinguished panel discussing the various ways entrepreneurs and large companies around the world are using Twitter to generate revenue.
- How To Use Twitter For Marketing. This lengthy article includes lays out the case for using Twitter as a marketing tool, outlines some do’s and don’ts, and profiles a few books on the topic.
- 16 Creative Ways to Use Twitter For Business. Charlene Kingston lays out several strategies that businesses can use to get more out of social media.
- Riding the Collective 140 to Overnight Success. John Jantsch has a short but sweet summary of the opportunities (and limitations) of making money off Twitter.
- Twitter Checklist for Small Businesses. This manual is available for free (you’ll need to give an email address) and includes a number of great tips for promoting your company on Twitter.
- Report: Twitter Now Charges $200,000 For Promoted Trends. This report is pretty straightforward, but is useful for highlighting the value of major exposure on Twitter.
- 3 Ways To Make Money On Twitter (Without Being Sleazy!). Lauren Dugan shares her thoughts on how to do Twitter the right way (i.e., without the hard sells).
Further Reading: Celebrity Sponsored Tweets
In addition to the countless other perks, many actors, models, and artists have the luxury of being nicely compensated for sending sponsored tweets to their massive followings. Here are some of the highlights from the fascinating world of celebrity tweeting:
- Five of the Most Profitable Tweets Ever. From Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian to Jack himself, Marketwatch gives an overview of strategies used to generate both direct and indirect revenue from Twitter.
- Study: Facebook “Likes” More Profitable Than Tweets. Sarah Kessler gives an overview of a study comparing the value derived from two of the most popular social media platforms (note: this study is a bit dated, but can still provide some interesting insights).
- Kim Kardashian Gets Paid How Much to Tweet? Elisabeth Kramer dives into the details of arrangements whereby sponsors pay celebs such as Kim Kardashian, Melissa Joan Hart, Frankie Muniz, and even Teen Mom Farrah Abraham get paid to tweet promotions.
- Charlie Sheen Intern Tweet Generated 95,333 Clicks in First Hour [Infographic] Lauren Dugan summed up the success enjoyed by Internship.com after paying Charlie Sheen (reportedly about $50,000) to put out a tweet for a “#winning intern.” The number here are pretty astounding.
- Tech Building Brands With Celebrity Star Power [Video]. Ad.ly CEO Walter Delph discusses how tech companies are using celebrity tweets to grow their customer base.
Further Reading: Successful Twitter Entrepreneurs
If you’re feeling intimidated by the sheer size and competitiveness of the Twittersphere, it may be inspirational to hear about some of the folks who have found success on Twitter.
From consultants and public speakers to fundraising entrepreneurs and authors, here are some of our favorite tales highlighting the potential of Twitter:
- Don Power’s Twitter Success Stories. The managing editor of Sprout Insights regularly profiles individuals who have used Twitter to advance their careers (several of the links below are to Don’t features).
- Using Twitter to Create a Consulting Career. The story of Pam Aungst, a construction industry marketer who used Twitter to launch a full-time consulting career.
- How 30,000 Twitter Followers Build My Business. Jeanette Mulvey shares the story of Michelle Mangen (@mmangen) who build a successful business thanks in no small part to her Twitter efforts.
- Professional Tweeters…really? Andy Headworth sat down with “professional tweeter” @lesanto to get his take on one of the world’s newest professions.
- Case Study: How We Got Over 14,000 Downloads in 48 Hours. Christina Duren profiles a musical act that cracked the Twitter code and got a big boost for their album.
- From Twitter to TV Show: The Story of Shit My Dad Says [Podcast]. Listen to the incredible true story of Justin Halpern, who parlayed a clever Twitter feed into a best selling book and a TV pilot.
Further Reading: Business Success Stories
Though just about every business has embraced some sort of presence on social media, not all of them are experiencing the same degree of success. The major success stories out there can serve as guidance and inspiration to business owners trying to generate positive ROI from a corporate Twitter account:
- Official Twitter Success Stories. Twitter has put together features on dozens of businesses and organizations who have used the microblogging service to deliver positive ROI.
- How to Use Twitter to Grow Your Business. Michael Stelzner summarizes some best practice for using Twitter to grow your company’s bottom line.
- 9 Small Business Social Media Success Stories. Phil Mershon highlights a handful of real entrepreneurs who have leveraged Twitter to drive business, from photographers to ice cream to online music.
- 5 Surprising Social Media Business Success Stories. Rick Burnes gives an overview of businesses making the most of Facebook and Twitter, including a paper company on the cutting edge.
- Real-life Twitter Business Success Stories. Meryl K. Evans profiles companies who have attracted new clients, hired employees, and sold products thanks to Twitter.
- Oreo’s ‘Overnight Success’ In Social Media Was 100 Years In The Making. David Kaplan tells the story of how Oreo rode a lucky break to Twitter stardom.
- Meet the man who makes six figures a quarter just from using Twitter. Matt Brian shares the incredible story of Brandon Hampton, who runs several Twitter accounts that have millions of aggregate followers.
- How I Got A Book Deal On Twitter. Matthew Kimberley shares his experience of a casual Twitter conversation that led to getting his book published.
- Twitter Comedian Jenny Johnson Nabs Book Deal. Allison Stadd tells the story of how Jenny Johnson turned a Twitter feud with Chris Brown into a lucrative book deal.
- Twitter has rocketed me to a whole new level of standup. Hadley Freeman profiles American comedian Rob Delaney, who speaks about how Twitter launched his career. and tweet fatigue.
- 5 essential tips for making money on Twitter. Fernando Alfonso profiles Jon King, a high school student who has made thousands of dollars from parody Twitter accounts (here’s another profile of Jon).
Further Reading: Promoting Products on Twitter
If you have a product to sell, Twitter can be a great place to do it. If you’re smart, entertaining, and offering value to your followers you will have a good shot at turning some of them into paying customers.
- Using Twitter to Promote Your Ecommerce Products. Paul Chaney discusses the fact that Twitter is “a largely untapped promotional channel for e-commerce merchants” and outlines some strategies for those looking to change that.
- How to Promote on Twitter Without Pissing People Off. Laura Roeder gives some easy-to-follow tips to get the most out of your promotional tweets, including a list of questions to ask before sending out a tweet.
- How to Use Twitter to Promote Your New Book (or Other Product). Michael Hyatt has a great list of explicit tips for constructing efficient and effective promotional tweets.
- Top 10 Twitter Tips For Bands, By Bands. Brenna Ehrlich has boiled down countless conversations with bands into a list of advice for aspiring musicians.
- Twitter etiquette: How do you sell on Twitter? Karen Skidmore gives her take on selling via Twitter, noting that this medium is very different from other places marketers are used to working.
- 4 Tips for Terrific Twitter Offers. Andrew Pitre gives some advice for engaging with Twitter followers in the form of a special coupon code or limited time offer.
- 4 Awesome Types of Successful Twitter Contests. Aaron Lee outlines various contests that can be held via Twitter to promote your brand and products.
- How To Promote Your Product With An Exclusive Twitter Handle. Using Nike as an example, Matt Anderson identifies some strategies for product promotion.
Further Reading: Growing Your Audience
Though a large following doesn’t guarantee a profitable experience, it generally holds true that the larger an audience the greater your revenue potential on Twitter. Unless you’re a well known figure or enjoying your 15 minutes of fame–like these guys–growing the number of followers will take a lot of hard work. Here are some tips to make it easier:
- Most Twitter Followers. There’s not much advice here, but it’s a fun list to read nevertheless (also check out the users with the most tweets).
- 6 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Followers. Daniel Sharkov lays out some specific tactics for gaining some momentum with your follower count.
- The 14 Statistically Significant Factors That Impact Twitter Follower Growth. Allison Stadd reviews a study out of Georgia Tech that determined which factors really move the needle on your Twitter following.
- How to Get More Twitter Followers. Derek Halpern has a tremendous collection of How To articles for Twitter newcomers and experts alike.
- 4 Ways to Grow a Twitter Following That Matters. This article by Rich Brooks has been tweeted more than 3,100 times–so he must be doing something right!
- 5 Tips To Grow Twitter Followers The Right Way. Aaron at Binks lays out the C.B.S. strategy for attracting new followers.
- @FakeAPStylebook Editors Explain Their Overnight Success on Twitter. Mark Glaser picks the brains of a talented young group of Twitter Superstars who have gathered more than 300,000 followers.
- How to Increase Your Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers. Zach Bulygo has a great, lengthy summary of the specific ways you can add more followers.
- How You Can Explode Twitter Followers with a Contest. Luke Summerfield lays out the steps for holding a successful contest with the goal of gaining “qualified followers.”
- 25 Tactics to Promote Your Blog via Facebook and Twitter. Heidi Cohen has some basic and advanced advice for bloggers looking to expand their reach via social media.
Further Reading: Comedy on Twitter
Comedy is one of the best ways to gain a significant following on Twitter; it’s no coincidences that some of the accounts with the biggest audiences are also the funniest and most entertaining.
If you’re able to make people laugh in 140 characters or less, you just might have a shot at turning your Twitter presence into a paying gig:
- 5 Rules When Creating Parody Accounts. This editorial at Hashtags.org lays out the best practices for setting up and building a parody account.
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Twitter Parody Accounts. Cormac Reynolds gives some useful tips for making a mock account on Twitter.
- 7 Strat Tips For Tweeting Your Comedy Career To The Next Level. Alex Blagg has a few pieces of advice for comedians looking to social media for a boost.
- A Comedian’s Guide To Using Twitter. Comedian Wayne Manigo (@waynemancomedy) gives an inside look at how he approaches Twitter.
Further Reading: Affiliate Marketing via Twitter
Affiliate marketing and Twitter can be a very profitable combination if approached correctly. But trying to replicate techniques that work in other mediums (i.e., online) could be a mistake; there are some nuances to this medium that require some adjustments and special considerations.
- Affiliate Marketing Is Booming On Twitter. This article by Lori Weiman is now a couple of years old, but still has some good insights into the practices used by affiliate marketers on Twitter.
- 8 Tips for Affiliate Marketers on Using Twitter. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger outlines best practices for bringing your affiliate marketing skills to Twitter.
- How to use Twitter for Affiliate Marketing.
- 7 Affiliate Techniques to Increase Twitter Connections.
- How Not to Use Twitter for Affiliate Marketing. Twitter fanatic Nathan Hangen vents on the general misuse of Twitter as an affiliate marketing medium, pointing out the specific mistakes many are making.
- The Proper Way to Pitch on Twitter. This article, also from Nathan Hangen, lays out some of the things you should to to ensure Twitter success.
- Successful Affiliate Marketing With Twitter. This article gives a general overview of best practices to follow when promoting affiliate products on Twitter.
- Do Your Own Affiliate Marketing With Twitter. Eric Welke offers advice for affiliate marketers embracing Twitter, including tips to build “social equity” and track results.
Further Reading: Finding a Job on Twitter
While traditional forms of employee recruiting and job hunting may still be prominent, the rise of social media has undoubtedly started to change how some people seek employment. Below are some guidelines for those turning to social media to enhance their job hunt:
- Leverage Twitter for Your Job Search. Miriam Salpeter highlights the unique aspects of Twitter in the job search market, tips on where to start, best practices for keeping the search going, and a few success stories as well.
- 36 Million Reasons To Use Social Media To Find Your Next Job [Infographic]. Leo Widrich highlights some of the impressive stats behind the social media job hunt scene, and gives some tips as well.
- 4 Ways To Use Twitter To Find A Job. Susan Adams lays out a handful of tips for finding employment through Twitter.
- 6 Ways to Score a Job Through Twitter. Erica Swallow has her own advice for conducting a job search through Twitter, including some advice on how to sound like an industry expert.
- The New Résumé: It’s 140 Characters. Rachel Emma Silverman and Lauren Weber discuss how Twitter is changing recruiting and the challenges facing both employers and job seekers.
Further Reading: Building Links With Twitter
Twitter provides bloggers with an excellent platform for marketing their content, offering up the potential to expose articles and tools to a huge audience.
In addition to the direct exposure, there is an opportunity to turn Twitter attention into high quality inbound links, which will generate a recurring stream of visitors and increase organic search rankings.
- Yes, You Really Can Build Links With Twitter. In this short video on Moz.com, Rand Fishkin discusses tactics that can be utilized to translate quality tweets into quality links.
- 15 Sites That Help You Use Your Twitter Profile For Link Building. Kristi Hines of SEO Gadget provides some detailed tips for SEO-friendly Twitter interactions.
- Link Prospecting with Twitter Tools and APIs. John Doherty details a somewhat complex–but potentially very effective–strategy for using Twitter as a prospecting tool.
Further Reading: Paying For Twitter Love
For the impatient Twitter users looking to gain a bigger following more immediately, there are ways to speed up the process–for a price.
If executed correctly, even a relatively small budget can translate into a significant jump in followers, retweets, and future earning potential. Here’s what you need to know:
- How I Made $70 Selling Myself on Twitter. Max Read recounts his experience buying and selling tweets–a cautionary tale for those considering this route.
- 5 Ways To Pay For Twitter Exposure. Kristi Hines summarizes the places you can go if you’re able to spend a bit of money to boost your exposure.
- The secret to maximizing ROI with promoted content ads on Facebook, Twitter and dlvr.it. Bill Flitter published a great overview of the relationship between owned media, earned media, and promoted content.
- Buying Followers: One Agency CEO’s Experiment With Promoted Tweets. Lori Senecal, head of a major media agency, shares her experience “buying love” on Twitter.
- Unethical Popularity: The Underground Economics of Buying Followers on Twitter’s Black Market. Maria Russo dives into a new market that’s popped up as Twitter has boomed: fake followers.
- Kick your Fake Twitter Followers to the Curb. The team at SocialBakers outlines why you should avoid fake Twitter followers and also tells you what you can do about it.
As Twitter has grown in recent years, so too have the opportunities for smart, opportunistic individuals and business to generate positive ROI from the service. Making money from Twitter requires a lot of hard work, a bit of creativity, and a willingness to consistently put in effort.
Hopefully the articles and ideas above have provided some inspiration and framework for a successful Twitter campaign; the rest is up to you!
Have another idea or article? Or want to leave us some feedback? Let us know in the comments below!