Twitter will be offering a new ad platform to help brands establish themselves as thought leaders among this growing consumer base.

At the Interactive Advertising Bureau's recent Mixx conference, Twitter made an announcement that may be of interest to marketers: the social network has more than 160 million users and is gaining an average of 370,000 more each day, reports the New York Times. Moreover, the social site will be offering a new ad platform to help brands establish themselves as thought leaders among this growing consumer base.

Twitter COO Dick Costolo announced that the microblogging site will expand its advertising platform to include a Promoted Account feature. The new ad tool builds on the Promoted Tweets platform the company launched earlier this year. (Notably, the launch of this development marks the end of the slow-growing @earlybird account, which Brafton reported on earlier this year.)

Brands will be able to pay to be in the "Who to Follow" lists displayed on Twitter users' homepages. While this could be a quick way to get businesses noticed by Twitter users, engaging and relevant content will be needed to hold their interests. Plus, Twitter will use the same algorhithm to suggest accounts as it does to suggest its Promoted Tweets, so industry-specific information will be needed for accounts to be suggested to the right audience.

A comprehensive, consistent Twitter content marketing strategy will be necessary for accounts to be recommended effectively, but the potential gains may be well worth the effort. While companies pay a small fee each time promoted tweets are read by consumers, brands that have accounts recommended to consumers will presumably find followers – and this may lead to more followers as well as sales.

According to ExactTarget's Subscribers, Fans and Followers report relayed by eMarketer, one-third of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand after following it on Twitter. Thirty-seven percent of consumers say they are likely to make a purchase with a business after becoming a follower on the microblogging site.

Quality tweet content can also help businesses find followers elsewhere on the web. Brafton recently reported that Bing Social launched a "People Recommendation" feature. The tool culls Twitter updates to discern which account holders are industry influencers, and it recommends people follow these users when they conduct relevant searches. Similarly, we reported that the new site Pulse of the Tweeters recommends thought leaders in industries of visitors' interests.  

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.