By Ben Austin, CEO of Absolute Digital Media.

The last couple of years have been all about the merge between social and organic search. Does social content really affect your rankings? Can a strong Google Plus profile actually improve your SEO campaign? Such has been the level of speculation that the connection between social and paid advertising has been relatively unexplored up until now. Facebook PPC went some way to changing this, allowing users to share ads with specific groups of fans or non-fans, but it’s a feature that still remains moderately under-used. The launch of Twitter’s Tailored Audiences however, has the potential to surpass this.

A couple of months ago, the microblogging social network launched the tool to let brands target their promoted tweets using browser cookies. More recently however, Tailored Audiences has been expanded to include email addresses and user IDs. Put simply, it allows users to define their own groups of existing and target customers and connect with them on Twitter; it’s a more heightened way of targeting those who are most likely to be interested in your brand. So how can we use it to our advantage?

With CRM integration, you can securely share email addresses from your ACT or Salesforce accounts for example with Twitter. This allows you to reach Twitter users who are already loyal customers. For example you may choose to share a limited edition product with existing customers only, or promote your sale just to those who have signed up to your newsletter. It appears to have produced good results so far. Twitter reveals that HubSpot saw a 45% improvement in engagement whilst app management company New Relic reported a staggering 195% improvement in conversion rates. It’s also flexible to your own needs and budget, working on the same auction based system as Google AdWords.

If you’re more interested in acquiring new customers than reaching out to existing ones, you also have the option to send a promoted tweet to in market consumers who haven’t yet engaged with your brand but have searched for relevant terms.

What’s arguably most impressive about this new feature from Twitter though is its ability to achieve something that Facebook has failed to. Tailored Audiences sends Twitter down a route where brands can continue publishing adverts (and enjoying the revenue that this brings) without alienating or irritating users to the point where they consider leaving the site altogether.

Naturally the subject of adverts automatically instils consumers with a sense of annoyance and distrust; partly due to the reputation that many targeted ads have for being wildly inaccurate when it comes to an individual’s actual situation, location and interests. If this is something that concerns you, it may be of comfort to know that it can be switched off in Twitter’s privacy settings. There’s also a minimum audience size when using Tailored Audiences to prevent marketers from being too specific in their targeting.

It’s still too early to predict whether Twitter will flourish where Facebook appears to have failed but now is an opportunity for the latter to nurture a tool that is both lucrative for marketers yet discreet enough for users.

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