Twitter, founded in 2006, left millions of users up to their own devices for eight years. During that time the Twitterati community wrote countless articles explaining how to increase one’s following on Twitter; how to promote products and services; how to go viral; what time of day to post; how often to post; whether to re-post a previous tweet, and more. The learning curve people struggled with to learn the secrets of Twitter was much like the early days of search engine optimization. That was when marketers gradually learned how to optimize a website so the top-secret algorithms Google and other search engines use to rank a website would reward them with top positions in search results. But finally, in 2014, Twitter released its analytics services to the world. Now, you’ve got the tools you need to meet almost any marketing objective based on real data rather than the best estimates (guesstimates?) of others.
For example, you may have read advice that tweeting in the morning reaches east coast people as they’re settling into their work day, while tweeting around noon reaches the west coast just as people there are starting their day. It makes sense. Now though, with Twitter Analytics, you can see the actual performance of each tweet and decide the best time of day to tweet. But that’s just the beginning. Below are some of the steps you can take to improve your tweets and your results when you begin mining the rich data Twitter Analytics gives you. And, oh yes—Analytics is free. Simply go to http://analytics.twitter.com and login with your usual Twitter credentials.
At your first login, you’ll see a message that says, “Impression and engagement metrics will be collected for your Tweets starting right now. Tweet now to get started, and check back in 24 hours!” Analytics needs a tweet to kick-start the data collection process. When you check back the next day (or even sooner), you’ll find the statistics for that single tweet. Over time, Analytics adds each subsequent tweet, gradually building a picture of how your tweets are working. According to Twitter, you can look at history as far back as October 2013, or a total of 3,200 tweets.
#1—Reconsider Your Objectives
Using Analytics for the first time is a bit like opening an unexpected gift. You’re likely to be surprised at what you find inside. It’s a good time to reconsider why you are using Twitter and to be sure you have a clear objective. If it’s to build brand awareness you’ll want to take note of your follower metrics and how often people retweet or mention you in some fashion. If you’re seeking app downloads or sales conversions, pay attention to “app installs” and clicks to your website URL. Using Twitter effectively is more than simply counting followers.
#2—Export Your Data
If you’d like to get a broader picture of your prior tweets without waiting for Analytics to accumulate a few weeks or months of new data, you can download your tweet history into a CSV file and study historical data in a spreadsheet. The download has 18 columns of detail for your “organic tweets” (those you don’t pay for) and another 18 columns of detail for those tweets you promote via Twitter paid advertising.
For instance, look at your most successful tweets to see which hashtags and topics you used. Look at the goal you had in mind for various tweets. How successful were the tweets you hoped would result in a URL click compared to, say, tweets where you hoped for a response or a favorite? The full URL’s for your past tweets are included in the spreadsheet, allowing you to study each original tweet.
You’ll find a goldmine of information in the CSV file you can use to fine-tune your next tweet even while Analytics is adding current data to your dashboard each day.
#3—Check Out Your Tweets
Once your dashboard begins to show a reasonable amount of history, continue analyzing tweets that got the most attention. If you’re a “quant geek” you’ll probably want to download the CSV file periodically as it gives you more data to manipulate and study. Note, however, there’s little to be gained by logging into Analytics every day. Weekly, monthly and quarterly reviews give you enough data to begin detecting trends, whereas daily reviews are probably a poor use of your time.
#4—Check Out Your Followers
Click the “Followers” link at the top of the Analytics dashboard. The system plots a graph with the number of people who follow you week by week. Perhaps even more important, it shows you demographics on your followers.
- Gender: percentage of male and female
- Location: by state or country, and the top five cities
- Top ten people your followers follow
You can use this data effectively, but the way you use it, depends upon your Twitter objectives. For example, if you want to increase your flock of followers, recall the old saying about fishing: “Put your line in the water where the fish are.” So you might think about the city with the greatest number of followers. Check today’s news for that city, then tweet something meaningful and relevant to that news. Your followers may well retweet your note to their nearby friends.
Or, look at the interests attributed to your followers. If your tweets address, say, entrepreneurship but your followers only consider that a secondary interest, it’s clear you have some work to do in crafting your tweets to appeal to your target audience.
If your Analytics graph of followers isn’t slanting upward to your satisfaction, reconsider who you are following. Choose people most aligned with your goals. It’s all about quality versus quantity. Following a few dozen key people is preferable to following the hundreds who don’t pay attention to your tweets or care what you have to say.
#5—Discover the Best Time to Tweet
Look at your spreadsheet once again. Tweets are listed from most recent to oldest. With a bit of string manipulation (use the MID function in Excel or Open Office) you can extract the time of day into a new column, then sort the spreadsheet on that column. That gives you a way to discover the best time(s) to tweet.
#6—How Are Those Ad Dollars Working?
Your Analytics dashboard shows impressions in two colors: blue for organic tweets and yellow for promoted (paid) tweets. Is your ad spending paying with appropriate increases in impressions and engagements? If not, Analytics and a bit of creative thinking can show you how to get better results.
#7—A Picture Is Worth…
Yes, a thousand words. Take a look at the engagement statistics for your tweets—those with pictures and those without. It’s likely you’ll see a picture is also worth a lot of retweets and engagements. Consider adding Twitter Picture and Gallery Cards to your toolkit, or simply get in the habit of using pictures. If you have video content, add Twitter Player Cards and the thousand words may become ten thousand.
Twitter Analytics gives you the tools you need to tweet a sweeter song. One that can captivate your audience. The beauty of Analytics is its simplicity and this: It gives you your own, personal data. You no longer have to wonder which “guru” to listen to for advice. Get in the habit of studying your analytics periodically, then make the continuous adjustments that living in a constantly growing twitterverse requires.
Did you know you can track your social shares and engagements right from your website? Read more about it here.
How do you use Twitter Analytics? Tell us in the comments below.