I’m sure, if you use the site regularly, you’ll be aware that Twitter has now made its Analytics facility available to regular users, allowing one and all to measure interest in their accounts, as well as the reach of each Tweet.
If you weren’t already aware you can find the page HERE, but do note that if you’ve never used Twitter Analytics before as a verified or commercial user, the stats may be blank on your first visit. Measurement only begins from your first Tweet AFTER logging into the Analytics page. However, if your browser doesn’t restrict cookies, it should have been able to access the page as part of your normal Twitter logins, so your stats will still be retrospective.
The Analytics page – new to most users – can tell you how many people see your Tweets, and that will, I’m sure, be of primary interest to the majority of users. But it also gives other information not previously available, such as whether interest in a Tweet was enough to prompt visits to your profile page, and if so, how many. Analytics will also tell you how many people clicked a link in a Tweet, which can be useful if you post links to domains you can’t access as an administrator. The engagement percentage stat is extremely useful too. It shows at a glance what proportion of those ‘seeing’ your Tweets, are actually moved to respond in some way. You can see how many people click your photos, or expand your Tweets… There’s a lot of intriguing stuff.
It should be stressed, however, that the recorded number of ‘views’ are only page impressions, and it can never be verified that they constitute people actually noticing your content. If someone scrolls rapidly past your Tweet in a timeline, it’ll create an impression, but obviously in an instance like that your message has not been read. This has to be taken into account before you’re too hard on yourself over a low engagement stat.
GOOD NEWS FOR ALL?
Broadly, Twitter Analytics sounds like great news. But what are the implications? Well, Analytics should certainly prove discouraging to spammers, who will see the effects of their behaviour writ large across their Analytics screens. They’ll instantly see high page impression stats versus negligible engagement (loads of views but no interest), but over time, they’d also expect to see evidence of mass Muting. Steadily, their actual page impression numbers diminish, even though their followers total is rising.
For those who just use Twitter for its own sake, the implications are less clear. To some, Analytics probably won’t make a great deal of difference. They may tweet more in the near future just because of the novelty of being able to measure what’s happening, then settle back into their real interest, which is socialising. But for others, the stats may prove alarming. Not in that they don’t get enough attention, but in that they’re actually getting too much…
What do I mean by that? Well, some users who exhibit stalker-like behaviour – sending fan messages to an idol, or sending romantic but largely unrequited expressions to a virtual love interest – often really want their Tweets to be private. They can’t message privately, because the person or people they’re stalking won’t follow them, so reluctantly, they post publicly. This kind of user may well be put off when they see the size of the audience secretly watching them. It might actually prompt borderline or actual online stalkers to think twice about their behaviour. So once again, all good.
Twitter Analytics could also prove greatly encouraging for those who haven’t, until now, believed their Tweets were being seen at all. Even if you have no followers, merely hashtagging your Tweets can get them seen, and Analytics demonstrates this very clearly. Particularly if you’re tagging with a very viral hashtag in a hotly searched topic, a Tweet can gather significant numbers of impressions regardless of followers. For someone on the verge of giving up because they felt they were talking to themselves, Analytics could persuade them to stay on Twitter.
OR NOT QUITE SO GOOD?…
There are two main areas where I feel Analytics could prove offputting. The first, obvious one of these is in cases where users are getting less attention than they imagined. Maybe they have 40 or 50 followers, most of whom are inactive or automated. The users may have considered that all or nearly all of their followers were reading their Tweets. When it turns out that only one or two actually are, there’s inevitably going to be disappointment, and the likely outcome is that the user will stop using the service.
In this instance it could be said that Twitter is doing the user a favour in giving them the bad news, and that it’s actually best that they stop wasting their time tweeting to themselves. But that’s a matter of opinion. Everyone has to start somewhere, and just because no one’s reading now, it doesn’t mean they never will. One of the most unexpected discoveries I made about Twitter was that Tweets are often found and read retrospectively. Particularly when I followed new people, they’d sometimes read a large proportion of my Tweets via my Profile Page. That can change everything if they start Retweeting you and they have big followings. Putting someone off Twitter before they’ve experienced something like that is, as far as I’m concerned, a negative – not a positive.
The second, less obvious drawback with Analytics is that it could scare readers into steering clear of people’s pages. My blogs (or at least the ones that carry Twitter-related content) constantly throw up popular search terms which include privacy concerns. “Can someone on Twitter tell when I read their Profile Page or Tweets?” is particularly common, and reveals that a lot of people want to read Twitter without feeling they can be monitored. Analytics doesn’t (yet) allow users to pinpoint who is taking an interest in them, but there will inevitably be some people who don’t realise that, and are intimidated by the introduction of any kind of user-accessible monitoring facility.
On the whole, though, Twitter Analytics should be highly beneficial both to Twitter and the majority of its users, and I really can’t see why this wasn’t rolled out years ago. It’s for long been recognised by blogging platforms, sharing sites and the like that users are motivated by stats. Yes, they’re demotivated too, but on balance, the motivation wins through. Maybe Twitter hasn’t felt the need for that kind of motivation previously, but it certainly needs some now.
Perhaps the biggest gain for Twitter will be in the way Analytics highlights the phenomenal power of the platform. I’ve been gobsmacked by the number of monthly views for old Tweets on an account which has been out of use since May. I assumed the account, with its few hundred followers and little demonstrable engagement was a waste of effort, but not so. No one Faves, Replies or RTs, but the number of Expands, picture clicks and Profile views is ridiculous. I said in my previous post that certain content types may have lots of interest but little feedback, but I wasn’t expecting that to apply to me in such dramatic fashion. It’s changed my perception of what’s achievable with Twitter.
The only negative for the majority is that they’re probably now going to waste… sorry – spend even more time throwing their thoughts and creative talent into the black hole.