Twitter Metrics: Social Media Analytics

By Shai Coggins, Digital Specialist | Blog

Oct 02

Twitter Metrics: Social Media Analytics

So, you decided that Twitter is right for your organisation and you now know the basics of Twitter. You have even been learning how to be more engaging on Twitter.

What next?

If you have been reading up on social media practices, you would have come across the topic of social media metrics by now.

The general idea of metrics and measurement in social media: To assess effectiveness of social media use and to find ways to improve.

In most cases, however, many get stuck on that one all mighty number on Twitter: Number of Followers. While this is a valid way of measuring Twitter success, this is by no means the only way.

With the highly controversial practice of purchasing Twitter followers by some social media practitioners, people must be wary of just looking at follower numbers.

So, what should we be measuring on Twitter?

This depends on what you want to find out about your Twitter usage. Data is really just useful if you know what you want to get out of it. Otherwise, they’re all just a bunch of numbers and pointless information.

However, if you’re still trying to figure out what you wish to learn from your Twitter account, here are some popular metrics to use

  • Followers – As we mentioned earlier, this is definitely a valid way to measure Twitter usage. But, this should not be the end all and be all of your Twitter analysis. Just think: What’s the point of having 10,000 followers if only 10 of them are engaged? Wouldn’t you have better use of Twitter if you have 100 fully engaged followers? So, it goes without saying that having thousands of fake Twitter followers really have no use if what you really want is engagement. Also, remember that not all Twitter followers are the same. Getting a handful of influential followers can do much more for your brand than gaining hundreds of less prominent followers. And, when we say “influential”, this doesn’t necessarily mean celebrities or other individuals with large Twitter followers. We’re talking more along the lines of who can make a difference in the work that you’re doing.
  • Following – If your aim is not just to get people to engage with your brand, but also to be a brand that engages with (and listens to) others, then having a good quality list of accounts that you follow can be key to your Twitter success. This is particularly useful if you wish to be at the cutting edge of your industry or sector. Following a number of good accounts that can lead you to useful content, breaking news, and other important resources can really make a difference in how you use Twitter. Another way of looking at this is the number of clients/customers you end up following on Twitter, as a way to understand and to engage with your demographic better.
  • Lists – Not just lists you create, but lists where you get added to by Twitter users. This will give you a good idea of your perceived influence as well, as people often categorise accounts in how they wish to remember them. So, let’s say you get listed under “Great Social Media Resources” or “Social Change Makers” a few times, then you know how you are being perceived by others.
  • Tweets – Are you maximising your use of Twitter by posting often enough, but not too often that your account might be considered “noisy”? Depending on the tool that you’re using, you can gather the number of Tweets from the report or manually via publicly available data. The best thing to do, however, if you’re going to do this manually, is to record the number of Tweets at roughly the same time (either every week, every month, or every quarter, depending on your reporting frequency). For example, you might want to note your Tweets every 1st of the month. This way, you know how many times you have Tweeted over the last month.
  • Replies or Mentions and Retweets – This is one metric that enables you to gauge your Twitter account’s ability to engage. While you can easily see this through your “interactions” page and/or the appropriate areas in your Twitter client, it is not always easy to collect the data, especially if you’re not using an automated tool that helps you to capture the amount of mentions or Retweets you’re getting. Also, if you end up testing a number of tools, you will see that not all tools would report the same information. There are still some gaps, so the gist of the tools is just to give you an idea of how engaging your account might be.
  • Reach – Getting a true reflection of your Twitter reach is a hit or miss affair. However, it is still useful to get a gauge, even if it is just an estimate. One interesting way people check reach on Twitter is through finding out how far their Tweets travelled using hash tags.
  • Engagement Scores – To have a better idea of the value of your followers/following numbers, your mentions, Tweets, etc, there are some people who have ventured in to analysing individual post’s engagement scores on Twitter. In this post on Social Media Engagement Metrics, you can find this formula on Twitter engagement score:
Average Tweet Engagement Rate = Replies + Retweets on a given day / # of Tweets made by profile on a given day / Total followers on a given day 
  • Qualitative Impact – This one is a bit of a challenge to define, but it’s the sort of metric that you’ll know and recognise when you see it. Some examples include: unsolicited testimonials from customers, clients or community members, requests to find out more about your organisation after coming across you through Twitter, and potential staff or volunteers coming across your search through Twitter (you’ll find out when you hear about it during the interview or through the cover letter). There are many other examples and it’s always good to have some way of recording and celebrating these anecdotal statements to show the impact of your organisation’s use of Twitter.
Other Twitter metrics that you might want to consider also include:
  • Referrals to your website from Twitter
  • Referrals to your donate page, email newsletter, and other online platforms.

Twitter Metrics Tools

There are several Twitter metrics tools available right now, ranging from free to enterprise systems. We have used and tested dozens of them and we’re always looking at new tools. For this post, we would just like to share a handful of these tools that we have used (and still continue to use) for a number of different clients and projects.

To avoid overwhelming everyone with a massive list of tools, we thought we’d just highlight these light to medium weight tools right now. In the future, we might consider coming up with a “super list” of Twitter metrics tools. If you would like to recommend anything that you believe should go on this list, please feel free to share in the comments section.

For now, here are some that we think you should try, if you haven’t done so yet:

  • Crowdbooster – This is a fairly useful tool to help you to gauge your Twitter (and/or Facebook) account’s performance. Here, you can collect the information you need on number of mentions, retweets, etc. You will also get some basic tips on how to improve your Twitter use (eg, what are good times to post, who you should engage with, etc). A single account comes free, but tracking more than one account would need the paid version.
  • TwentyFeet – This social media analytics tool allows you to track a number of social media platforms (eg, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc), with a number of very useful information. There are free and paid versions.
  • TweetReach – If you want to find out how far your Tweet has gone, then this tool can be useful in tracking the reach of a URL, hash tag, name, or phrase on Twitter. This is especially useful when tracking the impact of a campaign or event-specific hash tag. The most recent 50 Tweets are available for free, but you will need to pay to get the full report. Very useful.
  • HootSuite – This is a dual tool – both useful as a Twitter client and as a way to check metrics. It works for both Twitter and Facebook. You can also create a customised report that highlights some basic metrics that you might be interested in tracking. There is a free, limited version and a more robust premium (paid) version.

Twitter Social Media Audit

If you have been using social media for a while and you have started collecting some information, you might want to do a social media audit. Audits are a good way to learn what is working and what is not working in your social media approach. A good audit will also give you a list of actionable tasks to help you to take your social media use to the next level.

Here at Vervely, we offer social media audits as one of our services. We have also developed a brief Do-It-Yourself Social Media Audit for Twitter, for those of you who might be keen to find some basic things you need to do to improve your use.

This DIY social media audit tool will be available to our VIP Circle members. From October to December 2012, the password for this post will be published in our newsletter. It will be available for free on a limited access basis to our subscribers. If you wish to access without limit and immediately, consider signing up for VIP Circle Premium Membership.


About the Author

Shai Coggins is the Manager and Chief Digital Media Specialist at Vervely, an Australia-based agency serving local and international clients. One of the company's main clients is Microsoft. Shai has been featured in a number of media due to her online work, including being named as one of Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list (2009).

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