Twitter’s New Audience Insights: What They Are and Why They Matter

Want to learn a ton of vital (and addictively interesting) info about your Twitter followers in about 5 minutes?

Last summer, Twitter updated its analytics. And it was kinda cool! It looked like this:

Old Twitter Follower Insights

Great as that was at the time, Twitter just beefed up its audience analytics in a big way, and it’s offering a LOT of brand new information they’re calling “audience insights.” This is information that could change the way you think about your followers, and just as importantly, about what you share with them.

So, what IS Twitter’s audience insights, exactly? What’s new, and what’s important? Let’s take a closer look!

Demographics

First things first – head over to your Twitter analytics page and click Followers. This will take you to your audience insights section, where all the juicy new intel lives. (Note: you may also go to ads.twitter.com, click “Analytics” on the top menu, and “Audience insights.”)

As you can see, your insights are divided up into four main tabs. (Five, if you include the overview, but that’s all information you can find in the other sections anyway.)

The first one is your demographics tab. Like the older version of Twitter analytics, this tab gives you information about where your audience is located, and how it breaks down gender-wise – but it also tells you a whole lot more. You can use this tab to learn things like:

  • Your audience’s education level
  • Their household income
  • The languages they speak
  • Their home value

At first, some of this information might seem like little more than “fun stuff” – you know, little bits of trivia that make you say, “Oh, that’s neat, I guess, but what difference does it really make?” In reality, though, this can be some really important info to keep in mind.

You could be sharing tips targeting people with more financial resources than your typical follower, or someone with (or without) the same level of academic experience. There could be a major difference between the audience you’re writing for and the audience you have – and this is the first step in identifying those differences.

What’s the NEXT step? Read on…

Lifestyle and Consumer Behavior

Now hold on tight, because there’s a lot of info to absorb in these two tabs. First, the Lifestyle tab:

Audience Insights

You’ll probably recognize the Interests chart, which is another carryover from the old Twitter analytics. Odds are, not much in this list will surprise you, because your audience’s interests are likely to match up at least partially with you and what you do. (Edgar’s followers are interested in technology and entrepreneurship? Scandalous!)

Something new, though – and potentially more surprising – are the insights into your followers’ TV-watching habits. For example, you might learn that a shockingly low percentage of your Twitter fans follow sports – which would make you think twice about all those football metaphors you’ve been making.

What makes things even more interesting is that you can compare your own followers to another group. Just above your data, click the “Add comparison audience” link, and Twitter will show you how your followers stack up to all Twitter users:

Keeping that up on the Consumer Behavior tab gives you even more lifestyle/consumer-oriented information, like what types of credit cards your followers use, and their buying habits:

Now hold on one second. This is all well and good, but it raises one big question:

Where does all this information COME from?

Good question, because at first glance, this all does seem a bit Big Brother-y, doesn’t it? According to Twitter, “The data comes from user-supplied data, app-supplied data, Twitter internal models, and partner data.”

Translation? Some of the data is based on information you give or gave to Twitter, some of it is culled from what you post, and some of it is taken from “Partners” – companies like Datalogix, which gather user data and provide it to Twitter, who provides it to you. (And heads up – a lot of that partner data only reflects the portion of your audience in the United States.) Get it? Got it? Good, because that brings us to the final tab:

Mobile Footprint

This is where you can learn about the mobile devices and wireless networks your Twitter followers use:

Here we can see that our own Twitter followers prefer iOS to Android by a pretty significant margin (and that Blackberry just plain gets no love at all). Just like with most of the other information available in your audience insights, your mileage may vary when it comes to how practical this information actually is – in our case, it may mean that tweeting links to Android-specific content from other sources isn’t as valuable as iOS-specific content.

How will YOU use Twitter’s new audience insights?

Take a look at your own audience insights – what surprises you about your own followers? Do factors like gender and interests break down in ways different from what you expected? And how do you see yourself using (or NOT using) this information in the future? Share your thoughts about this new feature in the comments below!

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