Web Analytics for Twitter

Mark  Ryan

January 06, 2010

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While the buzz around micro-blogging is all about what is new and cool, marketing groups should realize that a successful Twitter imitative takes a significant amount of work, and though you can’t thoroughly track your Twitter activities with your traditional web analytics suite, you should be tracking trends in your Twitter community. Many tweeters out there are simply posting 140 characters about the main course of each meal and/or retweeting every article they see online (or on other tweets). Extraneous banter may create an active feed but it will not create a loyal fan base or ROI.

A successful Twitter community takes continuous thought about what your followers want to read. If your content is good, the analytics should prove it. The following is a list of some variable that you can track on your Twitter initiative:

  1. Traffic to your site: Track the amount of traffic to your site from Twitter (i.e. ow.ly,is.gd,bit.ly) as well as from Twitter aggregators (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook). Be sure that when you post articles to Twitter you’re embedding URL parameters to help track how much traffic is coming directly from Twitter. This report will help you determine ROI for your Twitter initiative. Typically the best ROI for a Twitter campaign is cost effective traffic that converts.
  2. Traffic from your site: Track how much traffic you are sending to Twitter and how much of it is coming back. This is often surprising to site owners how much a link to Twitter can influence abandonment.
  3. Followers / New Sign Ups: Keep a count of how many new followers your tweets are getting on a daily or weekly basis. Remember that followers are not always reading your tweets! A follower is not necessarily an impression. One common mistake is to assume that your followers are reading your every word – remember that approximately 60% of Twitters don’t come back to the site after their first month.
  4. Tweets: In order to make sure your content is fresh, record the number of tweets you produce daily/weekly. This may come in handy if you need to correlate it with the growth of your community. If your content is good, you may find that your community grows proportionately with your tweets.
  5. Replys, Retweets, Lists: How many replys or retweets are your posts getting? This is best indicator that your posts are getting read and appreciated. Dive deeper and determine if it is a small group of followers that are retweeting often or a broad group that is retweeting when they see fit.
  6. Competitors: Many of the Twitter tracking tools out there allow you to track the variables above on your tweets as well as your competitors. While I don’t typically see a lot of value in watching the competition, this may give you a good indicator of how well you are interacting with your community (or how well you should).

Determining ROI in Twitter can be difficult. The most challenging step is determining the costs in creating a successful Twitter initiative. Use of the website is free, the followers (if your copy is good) are free. Typically the largest cost is the time put into producing relevant tweets. As you plan and implement the Twitter campaign, keep track of your time and associate a fair value for all time spent (Cost = time spent x value of time). The return on your investments comes from the traffic you derive from Twitter that converts on your site.

Below are some great tools for simplifying you data gathering on your Twitter campaigns.

  1. Great for tracking article promotions – twiterurly
  2. Great for tracking community development – twittercounter or twitteranalyzer
  3. Learning about your community – tweeps and twitter.grader.com
  4. Hashtag tracking – whatthehashtag