It was announced yesterday that small to medium size businesses in the UK, Ireland and Canada can now take advantage of Twitter’s self-serve advertising platform.

The US have had access to this form of advertising since April and it has proven to be very successful for business owners wanting to reach out to a larger market locally, and further afield.

Following in the footsteps of Facebook, this could be another, and some say better, avenue for you and/or your clients. If you’re looking to increase awareness of your VA business, or you manage your clients’ social media and think it’s a good fit for them, read on.

What can it do for your VA business?

In a nutshell, it can help you to gain new followers, create more awareness of your business and drive more traffic to your website.

There are different options available for your advertising efforts: Promoted Accounts, Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends.

But choosing which one is right for you or your client is the tricky part.

Here’s a brief overview of what each one can offer you, along with links through to Twitter’s business site for full details.

1. Promoted Accounts

This focuses specifically on your account (and therefore business) in its entirety, and should be seen as a longer term marketing investment. It’s about getting ‘you’ in front of a targeted and engaged audience who have shown an interest in your service or industry.

Promoted Accounts help keep your business top of mind. How? Your account will display in the ‘Who to Follow’ widget which is located on the left hand side of the screen on the ‘Home’ and ‘Connect’ tabs, as well as in some search results and on other user profiles in their ‘Similar to You’ widget.

Ultimately the point of Promoted Accounts is to increase the quantity of people who see your tweets naturally, to build a relationship with so you can become a trusted person / business that they may look to when they need your services.

2. Promoted Tweets

Promoted Tweets on the other hand are ideal for driving traffic from a tweet to somewhere else. E.g. to a blog post, special offer, new service or product, where there is a strong call to action so you get results.

These targeted tweets go out to all your followers (although you can disable that if you choose) as well as users that don’t follow you right now, but are interested in the subject of your tweets.

A Promoted Tweet will appear at the top of any related search results as well as on the timeline of each user who has shown an interest in the subject of that tweet.

There are many ways why a Promoted Tweet would be beneficial, but I also see it as a great way to increase your mailing database, as long as you give a strong reason why they should sign up in your tweet.

3. Promoted Trends

Promoted Trends are a little different. They are designed to excite, inspire and get people talking. They get used by bigger brands on a more regular basis, but on a smaller scale they could work for you or your clients if you run events, webinars, training programmes, etc.

Trends are displayed next to a user’s timeline so are in the spotlight for the entire day. When clicked on the user will be taken through to the sales message on your Promoted Tweet, which as you know already, should contain a link through to a strong call to action somewhere else.

The key here is to make sure the Promoted Trend is intriguing enough to get people clicking through.

Have you already experimented with Twitter advertising? Or do you use Facebook or LinkedIn advertising? What have been your experiences – positive outcome, or a waste of money?