Promoted tweets came up in Question Period today. This follows news reports that Veterans Affairs spent $100,000 for advertising on the social communications channel. That, not surprisingly, led to some Twitter chatter on the subject. Analysis with Sysomos MAP suggests 879 relevant tweets have been issued over the last 24 hours.

I’ve been contacted by some media friends asking for my thoughts on the subject. Here’s what I’ve been saying.

I can’t comment on how Veterans Affairs allocates its budget. Presumably, though, they do have an allocation for advertising and communications which they use to promote their programs and raise Canadian awareness on matters relevant to the department and the history of Canada’s armed forces. Though, this particular controversy is apparently based on a campaign paid for by funds from the Privy Council Office.

It’s from that budget I would expect the money for promoted tweets was allocated. I would hope.

If that’s the case, I think spending money on promoted Tweets is smart. Twitter — like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms — offers the ability to create multiple advertisements, each of which can have their own creative and can be targeted to specific audiences.

Twitter allows advertisers to target based on specific keywords within tweets, user interests and interests common Twitter communities. You can also target your own followers or (and this is pretty interesting) users who are engaging in discussions associated with specific television programs.

You can decide the date range for your campaign and how much you want to spend. You can also decide how you want to spend your money during that period. You’re only charged when people do something with your promoted tweet (reply, retweet, favourite, follow your account).

Unlike a traditional paid media campaign, online tools allow advertisers to control how and when an ad runs, monitor it in real time, make changes as necessary, and run multiple concurrent campaigns with unique creative on the same platform.

Online paid media is a smart choice if that’s where your target audience is, you have clear goals and you structure your campaign(s) in service to those goals.

The rest is politics.