As expected, Twitter has officially announced their new Promoted Accounts feature this morning on their blog. This is sort of like a Suggested User List you pay to get on, but there’s one important difference: it’s still algorithm-based.
As Twitter notes in their post, you’ll only see Promoted Accounts if you’re publicly following a bunch of Twitter accounts that are related to one of their paying ones. The example they use is Xbox — if you follow a bunch of Xbox-related accounts, and Microsoft is paying to promote their official Xbox account, it will be shown to you in the “Who to follow” area on Twitter’s right pane. If you’re not following people related to that account, you won’t see it.
Twitter notes that at first, only a handful of companies will be testing out this Promoted Accounts feature, so many users aren’t likely to see any Promoted Accounts at all. It’s also interesting that right now it’s only brands that have access to this feature — it’s not yet clear if individuals will be able to use Promoted Accounts in the future if they pay for it. When I asked Twitter about this, I was told, “we’ll see — we’re still at the early phase.”
Again, these suggested account will reside in the Who to follow column on Twitter’s right-hand pane. This feature has proven to be a steroid for Twitter’s social graph, and now it will be a money-maker too. The question is: will users get annoyed by these promoted accounts? Twitter’s take is obviously that they won’t because they’re still algorithm-based, but you should never underestimate people’s distaste for in-your-face advertising. We’ll see. At least it looks like you can click the “X” to remove the promoted account from your suggestions just as you can with regular accounts.