opinion

On Twitter: Do Their Numbers Provide Value?

If you want to conquer social media you have to be prepared to spend time looking at your analytics. You need to look at your growth rate, click through rate, retweets, favorites, engagement, tweet-reach, etc. To get access to these statistics you have always had to go to a third party company that would gather this information through the Twitter API and parse it for you into a digestible report.

These tools can cost anything from $15 to $5,000 per month. The cost range is as wide as the information these services provide. Some will provide you only with the basics, and others will go into as much detail as analyzing your top influencers, primary hashtags used, and best time of day to tweet.

The headline: “Twitter announces analytics for all users!” should really read “Twitter announces analytics for all users, except adult entertainment who have been denied for ads.”

Over the past few month Twitter has been behaving strangely. We have seen a mass culling of potential spam or fake accounts. Accounts using third party applications, like Hootsuite, have been getting locked out. Sudden drop in Twitter followers, by the thousands … then back up again ... and back down; and reputed purging of Twitter search history. Normally when the Twitter platform starts to act up on an epic level it means a big update is about to happen. The past month (or longer) of Twitter system failures is no exception.

Twitter has announced the launch of native analytics for all users! This is amazing! Finally we get to see some of the data that the API has not previously released. Could this be a data gold mine? Twitter first made this available about a year ago to a small number of users and to advertisers. In July, they made some adjustments so not only could you see the performance of your ad but you could see the performance of your entire account. As we all know, if you are in adult you do not qualify for an ad on Twitter. So again, we were excluded from some of the great resources from a social network.

Here is the bad news. The headline: “Twitter announces analytics for all users!” should really read “Twitter announces analytics for all users, except adult entertainment who have been denied for ads.” Yes, you read that right. If you have been denied a Twitter ad account then you are being denied access to their overall analytics platform.

So far, as long as you have never applied to run a Twitter ad (and been denied), then you should be able to access this Twitter tool. However, if you want to keep that tool I would stay away from applying to do a promoted tweet, for now.

To see your analytics you need to sign in to your Twitter account, from Twitter.com and then go to https://analytics.twitter.com/about. Clicks “Get Started” and this will activate your account. Some accounts will already have their analytics populated, and some accounts will start gathering the information after you click the “Get Started” button. This might be because it is a new service and has not accessed archival information for all accounts yet. Of course, it may not pull archival information. That is yet to be seen.

But lets get down to the nitty gritty. Are their analytics actually valuable?

Overall I would say yes. They give you a decent analysis of your account.

Impressions

These are based on the number of times you tweet was potentially seen. This does not mean that someone actually read your tweet, it just means that it appeared in their timeline and they had the potential to read it. Your impressions are increased by other accounts engaging with and reweeting your tweets.

The Good: You can see your tweet reach per tweet which can help you establish your baseline as well as which tweets have higher performance.

The Bad: You cannot see what device, or platform, they are viewing your tweet from. The previous analytics provided details about how your audience was viewing your tweets. This told you what percentage of people were viewing from mobile, and what kind of device. This allowed you to tailor your landing page to be optimized for that platform. Now you only know your impressions but not the device or platform.

Engagement

This is the metric that tells you how many people are interacting with your tweets, from a reply, to a retweet, favorite, and click. Your engagement rate is an action taken divided by the number of impressions.

The Good: The charts provide some good information and allow you to see overall patterns in your engagement. The tweet list will show you the engagement rate for each tweet.

The Bad: Unless you are looking at the excel spreadsheet you will not be able to see what tweets are garnering clicks, and you cannot sort your tweets to see which ones are getting the most interactions. …another good, you can download the excel spreadsheet if you are interested in getting this granular with your analytics.

Followers

This section shows you your follower growth and the information about your followers. This includes interests, location and gender. Here is the interesting part, Twitter does not ask for your gender on your account. So how do they know the gender breakdown of your followers? They base this on user behavior. They look at the accounts you follow, the topics, and overall behavior patterns to determine the gender identity. If you have 65 percent men and 35 percent woman does that mean you actually have that many men vs. women following you? No it does not. Ultimately Twitter does not know the gender identity of your followers. You will also notice there is no age breakdown. This is because Twitter does not ask for age verification when creating accounts and does not know the age of its users.

The Good: They provide information on interests, based on twitter keyword content, and location, based on IP address at login. It also shows you other followers that your followers follow. So this can give you a good idea of other people to follow or engage with.

The Bad: Most of the follower statistics are highly subjective. The information on location is based on login via IP, however this will only take into consideration people logging into Twitter.com, or from a twitter app like TweetDeck. It does not consider logins from other third-party apps, or people viewing without logging in. In fact, Twitter has said that about 80 percent of Twitter views come from people not logged into the site, which means that their statistics are only showing a small percentage of your actual audience.

If you want truly comprehensive data from Twitter’s analytics, you should download the excel file. You will be able to get highly granular and look at the information most valuable to you. But as an overall snapshot of your accounts performance, it seems to be a pretty good report.

Lauren MacEwen operates 7Veils.com, providing social media strategy and management for the adult entertainment industry. Her Twitter handle is @7_veils.

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