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Ads on X (Formerly Twitter) Are an Untapped Opportunity. Here’s How to Make the Most of Them

Learn why this expert marketer thinks X is one of the best advertising platforms right now, and see how to get the most bang for your buck.

Apr 8, 2024 7 min readTwitter
Photo of Chris Orzechowski
Chris Orzechowski

Founder of Orzy Media

There’s a narrative among marketers that I’m tired of hearing, and it’s that X (formerly Twitter) ads don’t work. 

I admittedly started experimenting with X ads for my marketing consulting business somewhat out of desperation after a series of unfortunate events locked me out of my Facebook account. But, I quickly realized how much untapped potential this platform offered for me and other small business owners.

The first thing I noticed about X ads is that they clearly do work. As I researched other businesses advertising on the platform, I found examples of companies large and small across all kinds of industries — e-commerce brands, SaaS companies, agencies, service providers, and coaches, including companies like Apple and Disney — running ads with millions or even hundreds of millions of impressions.

I may not know the kind of returns or conversions they’re getting, but it’s unlikely they would run an ad on social media up to those numbers if they weren’t seeing results.

When I started running ad campaigns for my own business, the CPMs (cost per 1,000 views) blew me away: Some were as low as $0.38, $0.45, $1. Even the video ads, which had closer to a $3 to 5 CPM, were much less than the $17 to 40 CPMs I was accustomed to paying for Facebook Ads.

Sure, CPMs aren’t the most important metric (ROAS, or return on ad spend, should always be your North Star), but comparatively speaking, you can get a pretty good bang for your buck on the social network now owned by Elon Musk. 

Since I’ve started implementing X ads for my clients, I’ve seen anywhere from 2.4x to 5.2x ROAS. I’ve come to believe in the power of X ads so much that I’ve even started my own newsletter and spinoff agency to help other businesses make the most of them.

X ads work, and they’re very cheap right now compared to other social media platforms. (You can easily get started with as little as $10 a day.) Yes, the user base is smaller than Meta, but it’s still around 250 million daily active users — plenty for any small business to tap into.

On top of that, it’s likely that fewer of your competitors are on X than Meta. You could easily be the only business in your industry advertising there. Businesses willing to take advantage may gain a competitive edge, reminiscent of the early days of Facebook or Google ads.

Sold yet? Here’s my advice for getting started with X/Twitter ads. 

Start by finding your audience (and avoiding the dreaded bots)

You want to make sure you're fishing in a stocked pond before you start throwing a bunch of hooks in. The easiest way to do this is to choose some of your creative that has been successful on other social media platforms, and use it to run tests to find an audience that gives you results.

Let’s start by addressing the robotic elephant in the room. The first question I always get from potential clients about the viability of X ads is, “What do you do about bots?” The news can make it sound like bots are ubiquitous on the platform, and while I think the “bot problem” on X is a little overblown (every platform has bots, after all), I’ve developed a simple system for pruning out bot traffic from my ads. I set the audience parameters for every one of my campaigns to only target:

This tells me that they’re active enough X users to pay $11.99/month for it, they have the disposable income to afford a $1,000+ cell phone, and they’re not located in a bot farm halfway across the world. Yes, it limits my user base a bit, but there are still millions of people who fit in this bucket, and they’re probably more qualified leads than a wider audience would be. 

From there, I like to leverage follower look-alikes and keywords to continue honing in on an ideal audience for my ad campaigns. The follower look-alikes tool allows you to target people who already follow competitors, similar brands, or industry leaders.

For example, if I were working with a company that sold a tallow-fried tortilla chip, I might target audiences of influencers in the keto or paleo space. Keyword targeting looks for users who have posted or interacted with a post with those keywords. The nice thing about both of these tools is that once you start populating the ad set with a few parameters, it will give you recommended profiles or keywords to add. 

X twitter ads

I typically aim to start my campaigns with 10 to 20 follower look-alikes and 10 to 20 keywords, then see which performs the best to hone in on the ideal audience to target. 

Find easy ways to boost your reach, followers, and clicks by creating tweets that catch the eye with the help of Buffer’s Twitter/X Analytics.

Experiment with platform-specific ad creative

My personal belief is that a good ad is a good ad, so if you have creative that’s performing well on Meta, TikTok, or LinkedIn, you should find success on X. But, there are a few frameworks I’ve found to work, especially well on the social network.  

The “Xvertorial”

This is a term I came up with, inspired by the classic advertorials from magazines. The idea is to create content that feels native to the platform, preventing users from realizing they’re reading an ad until they’re already drawn in.

On X, one of the most powerful forms of this is threads and long-form posts. Users love coming to X to tumble down “rabbit holes” of story-driven, educational content. And it just so happens that kind of content is perfect for warming up prospects so they become ready to buy.

Take this example from the CIO of email and SMS marketing company Sendlane.

You start reading without even realizing it’s an ad, and by the time he mentions his business, you’re already primed and ready for the solution.

If you want to try this approach yourself, think of it like any other content marketing. What’s something you can educate your followers on, either through a demonstration or a story? How can you tie that back to your business offerings? You may already have successful blog or email content along these lines that you can translate into a thread on X and run as an ad. Even easier? If you’re an active organic user on X and have any popular threads, add a CTA to the end and put some ad dollars behind them. 


Another type of native-feeling content to experiment with is a carousel of images. These can be educational, as well — a more visual version of an Xvertorial that primes people for an offer at the end.

They can also be more sales-forward, such as the example below, which uses the carousel to highlight case studies. That ad has millions of impressions and high engagement in terms of comments and saves.

As long as you have impressive results to show off, this is a pretty low-risk, low-hanging fruit ad format for any business to try on X. 

Watch the data and chisel down to what’s working best

Like any ad platform, from there, it’s about watching what’s performing well in terms of conversions and impressions and chiseling down to your best creative and best audience.

I spend a lot of time in the audiences tab of the ad manager, watching the reach, engagement level, and cost per objective of different audiences and campaigns to see which I need to cut out and which I need to double down on.

These metrics can be good leading indicators, but I always like to zoom out and try and understand:

  • If we put $1 into the machine, how much money did we get back?
  • How long did it take for the dollar to come back?
  • How many friends did the dollar bring back with him?

Ultimately, this means always paying attention to ROAS above every other metric.

If the ads you’re running aren’t working, go back to the basics: 

  • Do you have the right audience? 
  • Do you have compelling creative? 
  • Do you have a strong, clear offer that you’re directing people toward? 

X ads have a lot of promise, and I think we’ll see a rush of brands on the platform in 2024, but they only work if your approach is solid.

It’s like advertising genius Howard Gossage used to say, "People don’t read ads. They read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” Good advertising shifts beliefs through stories, education, and tunlocking conversations.

Aim to do that — on X or any other platform you're creating ads for — and I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

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