Metrics for Discovering Your Reach on Twitter

Can you hear me out there, Internet?! Hello? Hello!?

Can you hear me out there, Internet?! Hello? Hello!?

I just did the math, and Paul and I – combined – regularly use about 15 social media accounts, spread out amongst five different platforms (almost makes me feel exhausted to see those numbers on the screen, but we regulate use!). We contribute to corporate accounts, maintain personal accounts to interact with friends and family, use a few for professional networking and use a few more to drive traffic to our corporate site and this site.

We also each have a “hobby” social media account, which are very similar to each other. Mine is, in a nutshell, focused on sharing local news and cultural information of interest to people who live or work in the same town that I do. I wouldn’t go so far as saying I curate information for public consumption, but it’s along those lines (with original content added here and there). I do this via Twitter, which has long been my go-to social media platform: the interface is easy no matter which device I’m using, I have more control over what I see and don’t see and it provides for great engagement.

The bottom edges from "business" and personal twitter account tweets: a little different!

The bottom edges from “business” and personal twitter account tweets: a little different!

That last piece – engagement – is what, I think, many communicators want from social media. Sure, there are plenty of people or organizations that use social media to blast out messages without a thought to measuring effectiveness beyond tweet count, likes and retweets. Accounts like that can serve a specific purpose. I follow a few of them and don’t expect interaction, just information.

If you use Twitter and want to go beyond those metrics above, you should consider signing up for a “Twitter for Business” account (Google it). It’s free and, basically, registers your brand (like my city-focused “hobby” account) as something beyond a personal or networking account. You don’t have to start a new account, it’s basically an “add-on” to whatever existing account you choose to register. (And, full disclosure: I am NOT advocating the “sponsored tweet” option of this service!)

Business accounts don’t look any different to followers, and the user interface is the same – except one small detail: you get access to metrics that go way beyond those mentioned above. Pictured below is a screen grab of some tweet-specific metrics for a tweet sent out from my “hobby” account a few days ago:

A tweet-specific set of metrics. My tablet’s app displays detailed information much better than my smartphone or laptop.

Most of what is displayed about this tweet is self-explanatory. Worth noting the “impressions,” though – just because you tweet something, it doesn’t mean that all your followers are going to see it – this metric clears up any ambiguity and lets you track how many screens your tweet was actually displayed on. For this particular tweet (which was a photo, directed at a niche community [even more niche than the crisis communication community, believe it or not!]) I relied on third-party endorsement to make my “megaphone” louder and extend my reach. I @’d two people from that niche community who have many more followers than me – I didn’t have to rely on lots of retweets to get my message out, since these two users did so.

While my “hobby” account is focused on where I live, I tweeted information out that included something about my city, but was of interest to a larger community (in the sense of geographic reach, not necessarily population!). I was impressed by the engagements merely by the fact that it was something that was “throw-away” information; something that people interested in the very specific subject could look at and think, “Neat!” and that’s it.

The Twitter for Business registration doesn’t just give you tweet-specific metrics – you’ll have access to analytical trend information that covers monthly use of your feed (impressions [i.e., views], follower trends, mentions, etc.).

Paying attention to these measurables can illuminate a few things:

  1. How many screens (i.e., people viewing) is this information popping up on?
  2. Am I getting the engagement that I want? I.e., are people opening content, clicking links, etc.
  3. If I’m engaging third parties for support, are they the right ones for what I’m trying to do? And, am I selecting information of interest to them and packaging it correctly?
  4. If you’re using an account to relay crisis information (you know, doing some SMEM), tweet-specific metrics will tell you, in part, if people are receiving the information. You may find that you have to send the same information out more than once.

If you’re looking for engagement, and pay attention to these metrics on a regular basis, this tool can actually train you to be a better user of social media, making your experience and the experience of your followers better.

Image courtesy Ryan McGuire of Gratisography, Used under Creative Commons license. Original image:, License: The image has not been altered.

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