Twitter Analytics Reveal Low Reach, Suspect Engagement

“On Twitter, nothing comes between your Tweets and your followers.” That’s what Twitter said in July when it introduced organic tweet analytics. This week, Twitter opened the analyti...
Twitter Analytics Reveal Low Reach, Suspect Engagement
Written by Chris Crum
  • “On Twitter, nothing comes between your Tweets and your followers.”

    That’s what Twitter said in July when it introduced organic tweet analytics. This week, Twitter opened the analytics dashboard to all users after previously only letting advertisers and verified users access it. Now everyone gets to see each of their tweets’ impressions, engagements, and engagement rate. The question is how useful is this information really?

    Can you engage in effective marketing on Twitter without paying? Let us know what you think in the comments.

    Twitter rival Facebook has been making it increasingly difficult for marketers to reach their audiences without paying. You’ve no doubt heard about the organic reach decline story by now.

    When Twitter introduced organic tweet analytics, it seemed to suggest that you don’t have to worry about that type of thing on Twitter (see the introductory quote above). While that maybe technically true (at least for now – some fear Twitter will folllow Facebook’s algorithmic News Feed approach eventually), Twitter tends to be an entirely different experience for users in terms of volume of accounts users’ follow. Most people who use both Facebook and Twitter likely follow significantly more Twitter accounts. Some of these Twitter accounts push out a tremendous amount of content. Timelines are bombarded. So while you may have access to everything from all accounts you follow, it’s going to take you a long time to dig through it all if you follow very many accounts, and chances are, you’re going to miss a lot of tweets.

    Twitter’s new analytics show you just what kind of reach you’re achieving. You can clearly see how many impressions one of your tweets got. This is, of course, the number of times that a tweet was seen. You can also see engagements and engagement rate.

    Here’s where Twitter’s analytics could make things seem a little better than they actually are.

    When you hover over the word engagements, it explains just exactly what that means: “Total number of times a user has interacted with a tweet. This includes all clicks anywhere on the tweet (including hashtags, links, avatar, username, and Tweet expansion), retweets, replies, follows, and favorites.” Actually, it also includes clicks on embedded media, as pointed out in a help center article.

    That’s a lot more broad than you might otherwise think. Jim Edwards at Business Insider, writing about the launch, describes engagement of one of his tweets as being comprised of retweets and favorites. It’s entirely possible that this is the case in this instance (he doesn’t show the screenshot for the drill-down of the specific tweet), but that number is often going to be comprised of additional “engagements” including less meaningful ones like hashtag clicks or avatar clicks.

    If you’re a business trying to get a real action out of a user, that engagement number may not be incredibly meaningful.

    Think about it like this. If you ran an ad in a publication’s email newsletter, a metric that takes into account irrelevant clicks within that newsletter, such as those on the support link or on a link in an article, wouldn’t be all that helpful.

    Of course Twitter’s new release is all about giving non-paying users access to some insights that paying customers are getting, and certainly a play to transition some of those freeloaders into paying customers. There is, after all, a link to Twitter’s Advertising site as well as links to set up billing and whatnot from the dashboard page. They want you to look at your numbers, and then try to boost them with advertising. It makes a great deal of sense for Twitter.

    While the engagement metric may not be the most helpful thing in the world, Twitter does at least provide some pretty good options for those that decide to take the plunge into the paid side of things. Tweet engagement campaigns are an option, but you can also do followers, clicks/conversions, app installs/engagements, leads, etc.

    You can’t really complain about free data. It’s just something that people relying on an organic presence should be aware of. “Engagement” may not be as great as it seems.

    For that matter, engagement rates are higher when you have less followers, because this is calculated by dividing engagements by impressions. You may have a high engagement rate on a tweet, but how much is that really helping you if you if a small number of people are seeing it to begin with?

    And that’s just it. Even if you have a large number of followers, it’s likely that a small number of them are actually seeing the tweets. Many seem to consider this the chief revelation from Twitter’s new dashboard.

    According to Twitter itself, brands that tweet two to three times a day can reach roughly 30% of their follower base during a given week. “This indicates that Tweet consistency is a key factor when it comes to maximizing your organic reach on Twitter,” it said.

    So, you should probably tweet more frequently if anything.

    Other than that, the main takeaway here is that impressions are your first hurdle on Twitter, but even after that, engagement is is not necessarily as great as you may have thought. Unsurprisingly, and like most other platforms, you’re probably going to have to pay to play to get any real bang out of Twitter for marketing.

    Twitter does provide some “best practices,” which include keeping tweets conversational, employing your knowledge and voice, making content shareable, tweeting exceptional content, asking questions and listening, tweeting things that are timely, and experimenting with different wording and content. They elaborate on all of these here.

    Are you seeing meaningful engagement leading to conversions from your organic Twitter efforts? Let us know in the comments.

    Image via Twitter

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