Twitter launches self-serve ads in South Africa for Small businesses (how to guide)7 min read

 Twitter launches self-serve ads in South Africa for Small business (how to guide)

In 2014 Social media is growing at an unprecedented rate. More and more people are utilising social media to post content, share photos or just simply to let their hair down. Business owners over the past couple of years have surely seen the benefit of utilising social media to engage with their customers online, especially small business owners. Initially, Twitter did little to no advertising several years ago; however, in the last 18 months, Twitter began advertising in the form of Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts.

The only downside to this was that unless you had a minimum budget of R50K ($5000) to spend on advertising, this option wasn’t available to you. Few companies within the border of South Africa were able to take advantage of this, which meant that if you owned a small business, you were left out.

In early may twitter launched “self-serve ads” for small businesses in South Africa. What this means is, if you have a small business in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban or any other city in South Africa with a tiny budget of even R1000 you can start advertising on Twitter as part of your larger online advertising strategy. Research shows that 72% of people are likely to purchase a product from a small business after following them on Twitter whilst 30% are likely to recommend it. Remember that advertising on Twitter alone can’t be enough, most of the times you’ll be directing people to your website, if you don’t have one (a website) I’m sorry to inform you that you’re virtually invisible in South Africa and you have zero credibility. Having a website over the past couple of years has become a no brainer and if you as small business owner isn’t on the internet then: “I’ve got news you”.

Let’s say you have a website, can you confidently say you’re getting the most out of it? Is it impressive enough to convert visitors to potential customers?  Having a website that looks like it was made in 2001 or isn’t yielding results will not be beneficial to your business.  Web design is perhaps the most crucial aspect of your larger online strategy.

Twitter’s self serve ads also launched in Israel earlier this month, joining USA, Canada, UK, Ireland and Japan. Although there are only two African countries on that list, you can expect Twitter self serve ads to launch in Nigeria and Kenya in the not so distant future.

Twitter’s approach to serving Ads is similar to that of Google Adwords, which is advantageous to business owners in South Africa. As the small business owner, you will only get charged if users interact with you or follow you, Which simply means if your ad is displayed to 10 people and only 2 people retweet or follow you, you’ll only get charged for those 2 people and the other 8 are free :-).


Let’s get started on the step by step guide for twitter’s self serve ads for small business

below we’ll show you a step by step guide of how to get started on twitter’s Self Serve ads. For Demonstration, we’ll be using our Twitter Account  

Watch the video below if you still don’t understand Twitter’s advertising



First thing you’ll need to do is log into your Twitter account then head on to

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 Here you’ll be prompted to select your country and time zone for currency purposes. Then click permanently save these save settings.





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This page allows you to pick which campaign you’d like to choose, A promoted account which is for gaining more followers or Promoted tweets which is used to encourage people to retweet, favourite, reply or even follow. Please keep in mind you can run both Promoted Tweets and Promoted accounts; you just have to set up one at a time. For this guide we’ll go with Promoted Accounts Campaign.

STEP 3 Give your campaign a name.

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Give your campaign a name (title will do), and set a time frame. By default, the campaigns are set to run endlessly. This means that your campaign will run until you stop it manually or your budget limit is reached, or you can select the start and end date.


Step 4 Add @usernames to target people similar to that user’s followers.

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Now you’ll select users on Twitter with followers similar to your targeted interests. Since we deal allot with Entrepreneurs and other small businesses owners then we naturally selected big accounts on Twitter with followers who could be potential customers. Like NYDA, The Department of trade and industry



Step 5 Add interest categories to target a broader audience as well.

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Here you’ll select categories in which your audience is interested in. we selected entrepreneurs and web design



Step 6 Choose all of the locations you want to reach.

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Here you will input South Africa. Unfortunately at the moment, Twitter doesn’t have an option for further refinement for cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban. I’m sure in future Twitter will include this option for small business owners in future


Step 7 Define Gender, Language and Lists.

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Gender let’s say you sell screwdrivers, you’ll target men under gender. Under language just select English, there’s no option for Zulu Afrikaans or any other SA language. Lists allow you to target specific people on Twitter, perhaps a list of companies you’d like to do business with. You can group all these people together in a List on Twitter.  Go to your profile on Twitter to create a list

Step 8: tell users why they should follow your account

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Over here you have two options, you can either select a previous tweet or you can create a new tweet. We suggest your tweet should be encouraging others to follow you I.e “follow us on Twitter to find out how affordable it gives your brand a professional website for your small business”. Additionally, be sure to attach an image and link to your website.


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This is where you should pay the most attention.

The first thing to keep in mind here is, the more money has the greater your reach and more followers you’ll get. In this case, I have selected a budget of R5000 ($500), which in my view isn’t entirely out f reach for a small business. We suggest you set a budget, that way you won’t have any surprises on your bill once your target followers are achieved, the last thing you want is an added expense, after all, starting a small business is hard enough. Also set the maximum amount to be spent per day to avoid using up your budget in one day, that way you get prolonged exposure on Twitter. Enter the maximum amount you want to pay per to follow.

Whilst entering all the fields watch the estimated reach on the left adjust according to your budget. I suggest you spend some time here experimenting with different budgets to see how it affects the estimated reach.

Thereafter press save campaign!

Step 10 Campaign Summary

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Over here you’ll notice that progress bar on the top left of the page is fully green, indicating your done entering all the details. You also have 3 options, Schedule Campaign or Start Campaign; this will begin Promoted accounts campaign for your small business depending on your date.  You also have the option of “Save as draft and exit”, you can come back and edit it at a later stage. Lastly “Modify details”, it’ll take you back where you can change add or modify the details of your campaign.


STEP 11 (final step)

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This is where you enter your credit details, thereafter your campaign will begin.

Below is a video that explains  everything above

if your a Small business owner, I hope you found this helpful

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