Twitter Analytics data and how to use it
Now that you know your way around Twitter Analytics, you can use it to get insight into your account. Here are some of the most important metrics the tool lets you track.
Simply put, an impression is when a tweet appears on someone’s timeline. The Twitter impressions metric doesn’t tell you whether or not people engaged with a tweet. Actually, it doesn’t even tell you if they saw it, as they may have scrolled past it without looking at it.
So what’s the point of tracking impressions? Essentially, impressions give you a rough idea of how many people your tweets are reaching. You can also compare impressions against other metrics to get a fuller picture of the impact your tweets have—or could have.
Impressions versus reach
One of the metrics that’s useful to compare against impressions is reach. This is the number of users who could potentially see your tweets. For example, if you have 500 followers, every time you tweet, you have a reach of at least 500. You may have noticed that reach isn’t displayed in Analytics, but it’s still a valuable concept to understand when using the tool.
Comparing your impressions to your reach helps you understand how well you’re engaging your followers, along with other users.
Unfortunately, reach isn’t so easy to determine. It can change based on what your followers do. For example, every time any of your 500 followers interacts with one of your tweets, this increases your reach, as the tweet has the potential to reach any of their followers.
There are tools that can help you better determine your Twitter reach, and promoted tweets are one easy way to increase it. However, the most straightforward way to improve your reach without spending money is by gaining new followers.
An engagement is an interaction with a tweet. This includes likes and retweets, but it can also be as simple as a user clicking on a tweet or performing any other action on it.
Engagements are significant because if people are already engaging with your tweets, you can suggest they do other things you want them to do. For example, you can encourage users to visit your profile, website, or online store.
Engagements versus engagement rate
The engagement rate of a tweet is the number of engagements it gets divided by its number of impressions.
Let’s say you have a tweet with 600 impressions that’s earned 42 engagements.
To calculate that engagement rate:
42 ÷ 600 = 0.07
The engagement rate represents a percentage, so 0.07 would display in Analytics as 7%. In other words, 7% of the total impressions for this tweet resulted in an engagement.
While the total number of engagements on a tweet is meaningful in itself, the engagement rate gives you a better picture of performance.
But how does this actually help you? Well, imagine you have a relatively small Twitter following of 500. You may be lucky and have a tweet that goes viral, but chances are, most of your tweets won’t be seen by many people. Your impressions and engagements will probably reflect that smaller audience.
However, let’s say that you have an average engagement rate of 7% over a longer period of time. If you continue to gain followers—say, doubling them to 1,000—you might reasonably expect to engage twice as many people.
A tweet that gained 250 impressions when you had 500 followers could earn 500 with 1,000 followers. And if a 250-impression tweet earned 17 or 18 engagements under a 7.0% engagement rate, a future 500-impression tweet might earn around 35 engagements—all other things being equal.
Keep in mind, though, that all other things are rarely equal. There are always other factors to consider. Your future followers might not behave exactly like your current followers. Still, seeing the rough potential of your account to engage users lets you more effectively plan future content.
Tweet activity doesn’t refer to one thing in particular. Essentially, it’s all the stuff that happens to your tweets, combined, which can include:
- Link clicks
To see activity for an individual tweet, while in Analytics, click on the View Tweet activity link on any tweet. If you’re using the Twitter mobile app, tap on the Analytics graph icon on a tweet, but note that the data shown here is not as robust as that on the desktop.
The stats from tweet activity overlap with the stats you get when you export data—from retweets to likes to clicks and beyond. But this option is more convenient for a quick glimpse, especially when you can just open up the window on your phone or other device.
So what should you consider when looking at tweet activity? Potentially anything and everything.
Individual tweet activity
Analyzing activity on individual tweets is how you can see what’s working and what’s not. Think about how you want people to engage with your content. When they respond the way you want them to, examine what you’ve done.
If you’re trying to drive users to an online store, seeing which teets earn link clicks is useful for understanding what exactly gets clicks. Are there more clicks when the tweets have photos? Do people engage more when you use a certain call to action?
Say you’re an artist or photographer trying to expand your online presence and persuade people to support your work. Take a closer look at the types of engagement that get more eyes on your photographs. What are you doing that results in people liking or retweeting your art? How many characters are you using in the tweets that are shared the most?
Tweet activity over a period of time
Analyzing tweet activity over a certain period can be trickier. Trends in activity are only meaningful if you’re being consistent in what and how often you post. However, pinpointing trends can be useful if you’re willing to put in the work.
For example, you might notice you tend to get fewer impressions earlier in the week. But if you’re actually doing most of your tweeting later in the week and on weekends, this is probably more a reflection of your own behavior than how your audience is interacting with your tweets.
On the other hand, if you tweet roughly the same amount every day but still notice a lag in your impressions on Mondays and Tuesdays, this might tell you that your followers are less active on these days. Once you’ve identified this problem, you can try to address it—for instance, by creating special content or promotions for these days to grab Twitter users’ attention.
It’s easy to get lost in the finer points of tweet activity, but rest assured, there are simple ways to benefit from Analytics. You can gain a lot of insight just from keeping an eye on some of the general data on your home page. Here are a few key factors to watch.
To view your number of mentions month by month, scroll down on the Analytics home page and check the stats on the right side of the page. Keeping track of how your mentions fluctuate will help you understand how often users are actively interacting with your account.
Seeing the number of mentions you’re getting can also help you find opportunities to interact with users. For example, if you’re earning dozens of mentions each month but rarely check your notifications or respond, you’re missing out on a huge chance to engage with an audience that's already interested in you.
Even liking tweets that include mentions or responding with a simple “Thank you!” when someone tags your account can go a long way toward building and maintaining strong relationships on Twitter.
The number of times users visit your profile is another useful metric for gauging general interest in your account.
Profile visits are easy to watch. They appear in the summary at the top of the Analytics home page. Like mentions, you can view them in the monthly summaries as well.
The number of followers you have and continue to gain directly impacts the amount of influence and exposure you have.
In the Analytics home page summary, you can see at a glance how many followers you have. You’ll also see if your following has increased or decreased within the past 28 days and by how much. While follower count alone doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, it still represents your current reach and the long-range potential of your account.
The truth is, while engagement is crucial, engagement numbers on Twitter are difficult to analyze. Predicting human behavior is always dicey—at best, your prediction will fall within the realm of educated guesses.
But your number of followers has concrete implications for potential engagement in the future. The majority of your tweets from this month may not have done as well as you hoped, but if you retained your followers and gained some new ones, you’ll have other chances to engage them.
Aside from your overall follower count, you can also view the new followers you gain each month by looking at the monthly summaries. Just keep in mind that this number represents a net gain or loss—if you gain 20 new followers in July but lose 30, you’ve “gained” −10 followers.
Considering the bigger picture
The greatest danger marketers and entrepreneurs face with any online data tool is getting bogged down in the details. This isn’t to say that you can’t benefit from geeking out over the advanced data Twitter Analytics gives you, but make sure you’re following your general account activity first and foremost. That’s how you’ll get the most accurate picture of what your Twitter presence looks like.
Once you’ve gotten used to how to effectively use broader metrics, dig in deeper. Master the summaries on the Analytics home page first, and then see what all of that extra tweet activity data can do for you.
Most importantly, trust your instincts. Using Twitter for marketing is an art rather than a science. Think of Analytics as a guide for learning about your audience, but don’t let it hinder your creative impulses and personality.