(Psssst – just so you know, this post was originally published in 2014. It’s still super good, but for a more recent look at some things you can learn in your Twitter analytics, check this out right here!)
Remember a few months ago, when I gave you a guided tour of Twitter analytics? Yeah, well, forget it. Pull all that info right out of your brain and throw it away. (Or recycle it. Save the Earth, yo.)
You see, Twitter went and changed some stuff this month. New data, new look, new everything. And I can’t even complain about having to put together a brand new guide to Twitter analytics, because, well, the new version frickin’ RULES. I’m serious! They really spruced up the joint over there.
Thing is, though, with all new data and options comes a whole bunch of all new questions, too. So step right up and take a deep dive with me as we go on a new-and-improved tour of the new-and-improved Twitter analytics! (It’s gonna be fun AND educational!) Oh, and in case you forgot how to get there. Just go right here:
Okay, you in? Good, let’s roll.
Impressions and Engagement
Now, you may remember that the old Twitter analytics page looked a little like this:But now, it looks a little more like this:
That’s because now, instead of breaking down interactions into categories like Faves and Retweets, Twitter breaks it down into Impressions and Engagement. By Twitter’s own definitions, here’s what those are: Impressions are the number of times users saw the tweet on Twitter (even if they aren’t logged in). Engagement is the total number of times a user has interacted with the tweet. This includes any clicks, retweets, replies, follows, and favorites. They also give you an engagement rate for each tweet, so you can see how many users interacted with it in proportion to how many saw it. Here’s an example:This tweet was seen by a total of 2,279 users. It got 81 different interactions, which could include anything from somebody retweeting it to clicking on the link to just clicking on my lil’ ol’ face. Engagement rate: 3.6%. (You can see what I mean, now, when I talk about the majority of your followers not seeing any given tweet.)
How to read the statistics
As you can guess, in some cases, these statistics do a lot to influence one another. Here, take a look at this, and compare it to the tweet I posted above.Now, the second tweet has a WAY higher impression count – but a way LOWER engagement rate. How do these tweets stack up against each other the way that they do? There are two reasons.
- The first tweet had a link in it, so while it wasn’t seen by as many people, a higher percentage of users engaged.
- The second tweet had fewer engagements, but more of those engagements were retweets (I’ll show you in a second how to find that data.) More retweets meant the audience kept getting bigger, which meant more impressions.
Does that mean that one of the tweets was necessarily better or more valuable than the other? Not really! It just means that one of them drove more traffic to my site, while the other gave me more exposure in front of a wider audience – and both of those things matter, in the long run.
Breaking down engagements
Engagement covers a lot of ground – retweets, favorites, clickthroughs, etc., and Twitter breaks it all down for you in real time. From your analytics page, click on any given tweet, and you’ll see something like this:
BOOM! Right? This is a big deal, especially because of that little graph in the top-right corner. Remember all that stuff about how long a tweet stays visible on Twitter, and how short its half-life is? Well, proof, pudding, you can see what I mean now. Still not sold on the short lifespan of a tweet? Go into your own analytics and take a random sampling – check the stats on each one to see when impressions and engagement drop off. Here – I grabbed six randoms of my own, so you can see for yourself.Notice a pattern? Strong at the start, but within a few hours, whoosh – those puppies are gone. (That’s also why I’m always saying ya gotta reuse them, or they go to waste.) That’s not all you get, either. These statistics update in real time, so you get a sidebar chock full of information about your current-day performance, along with how it stacks up to your average stats. They break it all down into handy charts, like this:
It’s a super easy way to check up on your daily performance and analyze your strategy. See a sudden spike in activity, like the one on that chart above? Take a closer look at what you were tweeting that day – see what resonated with your audience. Same if you have a below-average day (and hey, we all do sometimes). What was it you shared that people just weren’t feeling? Was your timing off, maybe? What other factors may have kept your message from striking a chord? These are all questions you would never even know to ask if it weren’t for this data – so go check it out!
Who’s reading your tweets?
Next, we’re gonna learn more about the people following you on Twitter. Who are they? Where do they live? What do they have in common? If you were to research all of that on your own, it would take FOREVER – thankfully, Twitter tells you all about the people who follow you. Under that Analytics tab, click on Followers, and you’ll see a page that looks like this.
Would you look at all that DATA! At the top of the page, you can see a graph illustrating your follower count over time – and while consistent growth may look boring, it’s always something you want to see. On this page, you can check out what common interests your followers share, who else they follow, and even where they live – a big guten tag to the 1% of my followers in Deutschland, by the way!
When are the best times to post on Twitter?
If you had to guess when is the best time to post on Twitter, what would you say? Before we go on, take 12 seconds to do this exercise – jot down what YOU think are the best times to update your Twitter. Early morning? Late night? Noon? Give it your BEST guess. This will be important later. Got it? Good – because now you’re going to find out if you’re right. Tweriod is a free tool that connects with your Twitter account and shows you EXACTLY when you should be posting updates. Sign in with your username and you’ll see a screen that looks like this:
And while that shows you an overview, you can get even MORE info by clicking on the Hourly Graphs tab:From here, click on the different tabs above the chart to see how your followers’ activity changes from day to day. For example, I can tell from the chart above that if I send a tweet in the early afternoon on a weekday, its audience will likely be twice as large as it would be after 8 PM. (I guess can’t compete with primetime TV – curse you, NCIS!) There’s one last thing you should check to make sure that you optimize your Twitter strategy. Click on the @replies tab to see a chart like this:
You don’t want to just look at when people are online – you want to know what times they’re actually interacting with you! This chart looks at the last 600 tweets you were mentioned in and shows you what times were most popular. In this case,people mentioned me the most around 7 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM, and 4 PM – between the last two charts, now I know some of the best possible times to ask my followers questions!
So what’s next?
Digging into this data may seem like it’s taking something simple – posting on social media – and making it complicated. But really, it’s going to make your routine a LOT simpler. Seeing all these statistics for yourself isn’t just cool – it can save you a TON of time in the long run! Bit by bit, you can virtually eliminate guesswork from your social media planning. You can quit sending tweets when your followers aren’t online! You can post more of the types of updates that your followers respond to! This is as close to predicting the future as you can get! And hey, speaking of predicting the future, I almost forgot! I asked you earlier to write down your predictions for YOUR best times to post on Twitter. Were you right? Let me know in the comments below – I wanna see how good of a guesser you really are!