We were first given a glimpse of what Twitter Analytics would look like in late 2010 and told that they would be released by the end of the year. Well, that time frame passed and still no native Twitter Analytics. No problem, things happen.
However, nine months deep into 2011, the Twitter Developers blog gave us a glimpse of the new and improved Twitter Analytics. In addition to a good looking layout, and what appeared to be tracking of not only your account but Tweet button stats and API access as well, it looked promising. The post stated that these analytics would be rolling out to everyone "within the next few weeks." Hmm…2011 came and went and still no native Twitter Analytics.
Now here we are, five months into 2012 and the only word we have about Twitter analytics is that, "it's taking longer than originally planned to ready for wider use." Meanwhile both Facebook and YouTube have completely revamped their analytics platforms and delivered deeper insights into the activity on their platforms. This is officially ridiculous.
If history is any indicator, 2012 is going to be gone in the blink of an eye without a real analytics release as well. You would think with all of the acquisitions and rounds of funding Twitter has executed over the last two to three years that they would have found, acquired, or hired someone who could have delivered on this vitally essential feature of any modern social platform.
Why it's taking Twitter so long to catch up to its rivals, I have no idea. However it's no secret that Twitter needs to find more revenue streams, and this could be one. By charging a nominal fee to people and brands that care about the analytics, they could start bringing in multiple, small streams of revenue.
What's so difficult about this? Other platforms, which are far more comprehensive than Twitter, have had at least basic analytics for years. This isn't rocket science... is it?
So, even though there are no signs of Twitter ever getting their act together and giving us marketers a native analytics platform to work from, there are options available. Thanks to Twitter's mostly open API, there are several sites out there that will help you monitor and analyze the progress of both you and your competitors' Twitter efforts.
1. Manual Tracking
Setup a spreadsheet and track all of the metrics applicable to your brand. RT's, Mentions, Followers, Following, Lists, etc. If it's important, track it. Just be sure to update it weekly so that it doesn't become an unmanageable amount of data.
Pro Tip: Updating weekly spreadsheets is a great task to delegate to interns to familiarize them with the platform and progress tracking.
Track mentions of yourself and two competitors for up to 30 days and see the top links for the past 24 hours. If you're prepared to do some manual tracking, you can use Topsy to look at domains, keywords, brand names, hashtags, etc. and track the results.
Pro Tip: Topsy is a great supplement to any manual spreadsheet data aggregation.
3. Twitter Counter
Compare up to three brands side by side. Under the free plan you can monitor Followers, Following, Tweets, and a mix of Tweets and Followers for the past three months. If you upgrade to a paid option, it includes Mentions, ReTweets, Your Retweet, and Your Mentions, and can go as far back as six months.
Pro Tip: This tool is great for researching competitors and tracking your own progress.
Get your Tweet Timeline and see what month, day, and time the account is most active. TweetStats collects information on daily tweets, hourly tweets, replies, RTs, Friend and Followers stats, and even see what interface(s) were used to tweet. It's also possible to create a word cloud comprised of the most used terms and hashtags by the account.
Pro Tip: In addition to account stats, you can pull current stats on Twitter for wide trends and platform usage!
Xefer will provide very simple analytics. It will show you some stats for around the last eight months or so, depending on the activity level of the account. It breaks tweets down into the time of day and day of the week so you can see the timing and volume of interaction. Also included on the page is a reply explorer so you can see high engagement users and view those conversations.
6. The Archivist
Look at Tweet volume, top users, tweet vs retweet, top words, top URLs, and platform. Each of these graphs can be expanded to show more detail. Below the graphs is a stream updated with mentions of the account. It's a good way to get a quick snapshot of an account or topic and gage the relative health of the account.
See who and what a user mentions the most and follow the trail to see how topics and people are connected. You can map the activity of your account and the hashtags associated with campaigns or promotions.
Track a variety of details about your Twitter account and even competitors. TwentyFeet uses publicly available data and private data (after you authorize it) to find reputation indicators, influence indicators, conversations, following analysis, and more.
Pro Tip: You can also add Facebook, YouTube, Bit.ly, MySpace, and Google Analytics accounts to be tracked.
Export.ly serves up a polished report that you can export to Excel or Powerpoint. It's free with a Tweet so long as the account you're looking at is under 10,000 followers. Above that you'll need a Simply Measured account to access the report. You can also get detailed reports for Facebook and Google Analytics.
Pro Tip: Exporting the report to Excel makes it easy to tailor the presentation with your own company colors and deliver a great looking report.
10. SMMS analytics
Many SMMS platforms (Social Media Management Systems) have analytics built into them. Check out platforms like Hootsuite, Shoutlet, Sprout Social, Argyle, and others. Not only do they allow you to interact and post directly from the platforms, but will track your progress and allow you to pull reports from their platforms.