Twitter is perhaps the best social network available for advertising adult products, sexual services, and sexual careers. It’s the go-to social network for publications like Playboy, producers like Brazzers, product providers like LELO, websites like Pornhub, and all the rest. Twitter is less restrictive than Facebook, but much larger than any of the niche adult social networks that have tried and failed to gain traction over the last decade.
That said, it’s not the wild west. Twitter is, after all, a massive global company. They have rules in place even for adult service accounts, and you have to follow them if you want to get any traction as a brand.
First: Content Warning
Before we begin, I need to make something obvious. Throughout the course of this article, I’ll be linking to various examples of adult accounts on Twitter. Many of them will contain content that is very much not safe for work. I’ll flag each adult link with (A) so you know, but consider this your warning; there will be adult content discussed and linked to in this post, so click links at your own risk.
Learn the Twitter Policies
Adult content is not directly prohibited on Twitter, but they do have policies in effect to limit it in a few ways.
First up, you should read the Twitter media policies. You are not allowed to promote or post about illegal or unlawful content. Some adult services are illegal, either globally or in certain regions, so you will find it difficult to grow an account promoting them. Of course, if you’re trying to found a business based in something extremely taboo, you’re better off avoiding social media anyway.
You are allowed to post adult pictures and videos, but you cannot have them in live video, profile images, or header images. Live videos are not allowed because they’re difficult to scan or enforce. Meanwhile, the account imagery is visible even if the feed content is blocked, so it’s unregulated exposure.
If your content is reported as sensitive and your account is not marked as such, Twitter can enforce labeling, permanently adjust the setting on your account, remove the media, or even suspend your account if the violation is steep enough. If your profile picture or header image is violating this rule, they can remove it and suspend you, and will suspend you permanently in the case of repeat offenses.
Next, you need to understand the advertising policies. This applies to paid ads, paid trends, and promoted accounts, but not to organic advertising. If you’re using ads.twitter.com in any way, these policies dominate.
Specifically, you are not allowed to promote adult or sexual products on a global basis. Pornography online, in magazines, in books, or on film cannot be promoted. Escorts and prostitutes cannot be promoted. Full or partial nudity or sexual content in images, videos, or even in language cannot be promoted. Enlargement or enhancement products cannot be promoted. Sexual clothing, dating sites with sexual themes, erotic massage, sex toys, and marriage services are not allowable either.
There are a few “adult” categories that ARE allowed to advertise. Safe sex education and products, STD awareness, and contraceptives are all allowed, so long as they don’t depict graphic sexual content. Lingerie that is not sexual, fine art, breastfeeding, medical drawings, and sexual news are all allowed as well.
In general, it’s probably likely that you aren’t going to be able to use Twitter ads at all. You might be able to skirt the line for something like an adult trade show, but I wouldn’t risk it. The process for recovering from a denied ad can be tedious and not worth it.
Mark Your Account as Adult
This step is important! In order to be allowed to operate on Twitter as an adult account, you need to flag your content as adult. Specifically, you need to log in to your account on the web and click your profile icon. Choose settings and go to the Privacy and Safety settings. Under the Tweet Media section is a box that says “Mark media I tweet as containing material that may be sensitive.” Check that box and save your settings.
What this setting does is essentially just add a content warning to your account. When someone views your account from either a logged out browser or an account that does not have mature content enabled, they will see a box that looks like this:
Any media – the non-text portion of a tweet – will be covered with a box that says “This media may contain sensitive material.” One link lets the user read Twitter’s policies about sensitive material, and another toggles visibility.
Users who want to view mature content can set the setting in their own accounts. It’s your responsibility as the adult account owner to make sure you’re properly secured; it’s the responsibility of other people to be aware of when they should or shouldn’t be viewing such content.
Fill Out Profile Candidly
One of the first pieces of advice I give to people marketing on twitter is to fill out your profile completely. This holds true for adult products as well, but with one addition; candor. You want to fill out your profile in a way that makes it perfectly clear who you are and what you do. Use whatever terms and taglines you feel comfortable with, but don’t try to hide what you are and what you do on Twitter. The people who follow you will be doing so because they know, and trying to hide it just makes it more likely that Twitter cracks down on you as deceptive.
Keep an Active Feed
You will also need to maintain activity, which again, is a common piece of advice. However, you don’t need every tweet to be about some kind of adult content. Take a look at Pornhub (A), for example. Their Twitter feed has content related to Mother’s Day, meme-based content, retweets from other industry figures such as actresses or other “competitor” websites, artistic creations, and even some sports. They cover a wide variety of bases. In fact, you actually have to scroll quite a bit to see something that is actually just straight-up pornography, and that’s fine.
See, Pornhub knows what they’re doing on Twitter. They have nearly 650,000 followers, after all. They know that their users know about their site. If people want porn, they can just go to Pornhub. The Twitter account is for interacting with the brand, learning about industry news, and experiencing some of the goofy viral marketing Pornhub does, like sending a fleet of snow plows out this past winter.
Remember Customer Service
Customer service can fall in two ends of the spectrum for adult accounts, and it depends on the kind of account you’re running.
If you’re an adult storefront selling adult products, or an adult subscription service, you’re just like any other business. You should run customer service on Twitter the same way you would as any small business. When people have a problem with a product, with shipping, with a website, or what have you, respond and deal with the problem. You’ll have to filter out trolls and you’ll have to avoid automating replies in case people are trying to be discrete, but it all works more or less the same way.
On the other hand, something like Pornhub – yes, back to them – can have a different sort of customer service approach. They don’t have to deal with shipping or product fulfillment, so they can do things like give a laptop to someone who broke theirs. They can also use their account to broadcast status updates in the event of something like a data center outage, slow site service, or downtime.
Form a Brand Persona
Pornhub was one of the first adult brands to really promote a persona, with the social media manager in charge, Pornhub Aria. Aria has a personality that comes through in her tweets, she posts selfies and runs a snapchat, and generally engages with fans on a broad spectrum. Other accounts have followed suit trying to mimic their success, like YouPorn Katie (A) and RedTube Emma (A).
Other brands don’t go for such a personal persona, but they still have a fixed outlook and style for content on Twitter. That’s what you’re aiming for. If you’re nothing but a boring corporate account, you’re going to lose out. Twitter is a very personal platform with interactions feeling more direct than on other social networks. Take advantage of it.
For an example of what not to do, look at Holiday Products (A). Their feed is nothing but marketing product descriptions, links that are clearly automated posts, and hashtags that no one actually uses. It all comes across as extremely basic, with no attention put into it, and that’s why they only have 300 followers.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Graphic
It seems strange to be able to post adult content on a social network and not worry about being banned, but you have to get used to it. It’s okay to be graphic! If you’re a company that produces or sells toys, for example, you can be like the Holiday Products feed and post actual product images, or you can post tangentially-related images and glammed-up product shots like LELO (A). If you’re a performer building a brand, you can post pictures from your content (A). Hell, for that matter, some people have had a lot of luck building a “brand” of just sharing explicit content on a daily basis (A).
Twitter posts do better when there’s an image or video involved. What that image or video is will depend on what kind of content you want on your feed.
Network with Other Adult Accounts
One thing I mentioned up above when discussing Pornhub is that they often cross-share content between themselves and other competing websites. The secret is that they aren’t actually competitors; Pornhub, RedTube, and YouPorn are all owned by the same company, MindGeek.
Even so, there’s a lot of camaraderie amongst purveyors of adult content and services. There’s a sort of mutual feeling that, with few exceptions, they’re all toiling under the same heavy restrictions and forced to deal with the same problems. Banding together and helping each other out can go a long way.
How can you do this on Twitter? Pick other adult accounts to network with and share their content. Mention them in content they might like. Reach out to them via DMs and see if they’re interested in a partnership of mutual promotion. You have a lot of options.
Play on Trends and Current Events
One of the best ways to keep people interested in a Twitter account is to keep that account up to date on news, current events, and trends. This goes for adult companies as well. It’s harder to capitalize on trends and hashtags when your media is hidden from a huge portion of the site userbase, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop trying.
One of the best examples of this in action is actually just Playboy (A). Looking at their Twitter account now, they have a tweet about an MMA fight, a tweet about a Trump meme, an interview from their magazine, a quote from Stephen Colbert, an article about alcohol choices, and so forth. In fact, I might not even need the (A) beside the link up there; they rarely share anything that would actually be explicitly adult. I leave it because they’re, well, Playboy.
The fact is, there are a lot of different ways you can try to grow an adult account on Twitter, and they all come back to one thing; knowing your goals, knowing your audience, and having a plan. You can be the classier, mature outlook of Playboy, the goofy almost-parody of Brazzers, the selfie-sharing performer or the storefront support account, and they can all be equally successful. You just need to decide what you’re doing and stick with it.