Since the end of December 2014, Twitter has been rolling out an analytics tool for its mobile app.

This is fantastic news for those of us who are out and about, live-tweeting hilariously named brands in the international supermarket or a joyless bus-ride and wondering if anybody actually cares.  

If you haven’t spotted where to find it, it’s just below the text once you’ve clicked through to the body of the tweet.

Clicking this link leads to the following screen, with quick, easily accessible insights on impressions, engagement, and whether people clicked on any links in your tweet or your profile itself.

This is essentially a mini, simplified version of its desktop analytics tool that can be found in the drop down menu on your profile thumbnail.

Or alternatively you might see 'Twitter Ads’ here, in which case click the link...

Then head to the top left and click ‘Tweet activity from the drop-down menu’.

Previously this was only available to those with an advertising account, but since August it has been made available to all users. Hence why you may not have spotted it before.

Last July, our head of social, Matt Owen, wrote a handy walk-through guide as to what insights users can expect, including a focus on impressions, strength of content and multichannel measurement.

Here I’m going to take a look at the analytics from my own personal account and one that I run for a music blog, to see if there’s anything I should be learning from the data. If anything else it may stop me from harassing Kasabian at 4am on a Sunday morning. (3pm on a Wednesday is obviously much better).

Blindingly obvious point alert: being better at Twitter = more followers

Although I’ve had a Twitter account for approximately six years, I was pretty lacklustre at tweeting. When I joined Econsultancy 16 months ago, I had around 100 followers. This was laughable compared to my colleagues’ legions of 4,000 to 10,000 follower counts.

Of course it’s not about the size, it’s about the engagement. Any brand or individual with 100,000+ plus followers can look mightily impressive, but if you’re not providing interesting or entertaining content or information that people are interacting with, you might as well have zero followers.

You’ve all heard this famous mantra of content and social strategy a thousand times before, but here’s what you don’t hear that often… it sucks if you’ve only got a handful of followers. In fact it even hurts a bit. Yes it’s a vanity metric once you get over a certain amount, but if you’re working as a writer for a digital marketing company, than it’s kind of embarrassing.

So I tried a few things with my accounts to improve matters: tweeting more often, sharing articles I've written on the blog, tweeting Instagrams directly from my Instagram app (a rookie mistake).

After a year I doubled my following to... 200. Yeah great. Clearly my heart wasn’t in it. 

In September I made a concerted effort to turn things around. 

Change your Twitter handle if it's rubbish

The first thing I did was change my Twitter handle. Possibly a dangerous thing to do late in the game, but being as I hardly had much of an empire to oversee, this mattered very little. Plus my original handle was awful: @christopherRCLF. Part man, part illiterate football club.

I changed to the much more dynamic @Christophe_Rock, which despite my lack of Frenchness or similarity to comedian Chris Rock, at least meant I had a slightly more memorable name which was composed of actual meaningful words.

Stop broadcasting

The next thing I did was lessened how much I broadcasted my own articles. This may seem counterintuitive, but all I was doing was automatically tweeting my headlines plus a link without any kind of optimisation or tailoring. People didn’t care anymore and were ignoring what was essentially an RSS feed for my own work. Even I was getting bored.

By only tweeting specific articles sporadically that I was genuinely proud of, it meant I had more of an emotional investment and worked harder at tailoring the tweet used to promote it.

Other obvious yet vitally important points

I also began tweeting more often. Following more people. Varying my types of tweets. Sharing more articles, videos and images from a wider variety of sources. Retweeting and actively talking to the people I followed... Heck, actually enjoying using Twitter. 

This is nothing more than the basic, honest-to-goodness stuff that makes Twitter work. Again this isn’t anything new and may be blindingly obvious to most. but… the results work.

Here’s how my personal account’s following has increased in the four months since ‘being better at Twitter’…

And here’s how my music blog Popdin’s account has increased…

It’s heartening stuff for someone who sucked at Twitter a few months ago.

Here’s another secret though, I still suck at Twitter.

Stop being lazy

For Popdin, I know I’m not tweeting nearly enough to take advantage of the 2,500+ followers I’ve accrued. 

Looking at the site analytics, a tweet publicising an article tends to direct around 80 people to the site, which is 3.2% click-through rate, so not too shabby at all. Then again it’s a niche site that has a Twitter account with followers who are obviously interested in that particular niche, otherwise why would they follow? I don’t have to ‘hit and hope’ as much as more general blogs or publishers.

So why don’t I tweet more often? Why don’t I retweet popular articles that I’ve published in the past? Why don’t I engage more with my followers? 

To be entirely hand-on-heart honest, it’s two-parts time constraints and one-part laziness. That last part I can definitely rectify with a simple self-kick up the arse. The first one I can fix by allotting a few minutes at strategic points during the day to find some relevant content to share and commenting on similarly relevant music news. 

It’s really not a lot of effort, and if I have this built into my diary then I don’t have to suddenly worry about it at weird times of the day or at 4am when I wake up in a cold sweat (which is when Kasabian normally bear the brunt of it).

Let’s see what else I should learn from the last few months worth of data.

@mentions of influencers can work (if done well)

What accounts for this sudden spike in 11,269 organic impressions?

This tweet…

Is it that I have a huge number of hip-hop fans in my following? Probably not, it’s in fact down to the frankly rampant @mentioning of various related Twitter accounts with large followings. This was retweeted by the artist @therealelp himself, who is an inveterate retweeter.

Knowing your audience obviously helps, but also knowing the right influencer to target can provide a huge boost. Kanye West is never going to retweet your self-produced mixtape, however a smaller artist more in touch with his fanbase will respond favourably to a positive mention of his gig you attended.

However this tweet didn’t direct anyone to my own personal site, and only managed to succeed in generating one new follow out of 11,691 impressions. It’s far from a blistering success.

But then that wasn’t the point. The real point was just to provide something of value to the followers, give some credit to an artist I admire, and promote some positive brand perception.

Funny works

Also so does knocking U2. With an engagement rate of 5.8% this is one of the more successful tweets of the last few months.

‘Engagement’ also includes the number of times people have clicked on the image in order to expand it, so the teasing letterbox format of the image worked well here.

Images really work

Making your tweets more visually interesting obviously makes them stand out from the crowd, but when you look at the analytics it becomes all the more clear.

There’s a definite jump in engagement in posts that feature an image. The one of Mr Burns didn’t even contain any text to contextualise it. (I don’t recommend this).

Times to tweet

Looking at my own personal account, which I tweet a lot more from than my blog account, I can see which times and days are more likely to see engagement.

On Monday, just before lunchtime around 12:50pm, managed 815 impressions, which is about half my following impressively. Anything before this is dead time, as everyone is focusing on getting their head back into work mode. However as soon as lunchtime approaches, that’s the time to start providing an escape.

Saturday lunchtime is bad. Just go back to bed, or do the thing that you’re supposed to be doing instead.

Surprisingly I have managed some fairly high engagement at 1am on a Saturday, but they may say more about my followers and me than anything else. 

Ultimately though my analytics tell the common tale that tweeting content between 11am-12 and 2pm-4pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, will engage followers the most, particularly if it’s within a couple of minutes before or after the hour.

In conclusion…

If you’re a brand or a publisher, you should definitely look at your analytics. It will provide so much clear, concise information about when to promote your content and whether your audience cares or not. It’s invaluable data that you need to use, not just for driving traffic to your own website, but also in providing the right content for your audience, therefore improving their experience.

If you’re a regular Joe just like me, it’s probably best if you don’t dwell too long in your analytics. It’s primarily important just to be yourself and not fret too much about ‘who you want to be’ on Twitter. Sounds glib, huh?

Looking at the best times to tweet, and whether or not you should be commenting on a news event even though you’re primarily a fashion blogger will just lead to anxiety.  Your Twitter feed should be an accurate account of who you are and what you are feeling, followers can smell a fake from a mile off. 

Now with all that said and published, I’m going to sit here and watch my follower count take a nose dive.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 9 February, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Ajay Kelkar, Curator at WiseReads

Hey Cris,
Nice cover up on Twitter analytics usage ,i have one question...
Out of all twitter analytics read so far, there is one that is weird , that is unfollowing the followers who are not engaging or worthy , how does that help ?

over 3 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

@Ajay - The only way it helps is in making your own feed a more relevant/useful/entertaining place. I wouldn't worry about that too much.

Although perhaps if you're quite an influential brand or user, people may look to see who you're following, and if it's just a load of bots/spammers then that will look bad for your rep.

over 3 years ago

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Emily Grube, copywriter at Dell

Hi! Thanks for the helpful article. At the beginning you mention "tweeting Instagrams directly from my Instagram app (a rookie mistake)." Why is this a mistake?

over 3 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

@Emily - Hi, yes sorry should have been clearer on that... Basically if you share an Instagram post on Twitter direct from the Instagram, it just appears on Twitter as a link. You're better off uploading the image direct to the Twitter app so it appears how you intended it. (Once you've uploaded a picture to Instagram it should have saved that cropped and filtered image to your phone, which you can then use to separately upload to Twitter). It's a bit of a pain but makes for a much better tweet.

Or alternatively you could use IFTTT - https://econsultancy.com/blog/64794-20-fantastically-helpful-ifttt-recipes/ - there's a 'recipe' that allows you to post Instagram pics as native Twitter images automatically.

over 3 years ago

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Tony Nesterov, Digital Marketing Manager at Experian Marketing Services

Hi Chris, very useful summary! Thanks for taking time to write this down!

over 3 years ago

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Len Diamond, Principal / Writer at Len Diamond Technical/Marketing Communications

I'm new to this and still grappling with the fundamentals. What is the ultimate objective of amassing followers?

over 3 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

@Len - The more likeminded people you're connected with, the more people who are then likely to share your content. We get a huge amount of traffic from social, so it's a very valuable audience.

over 3 years ago

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David Albert, Web Designer & Developer at Web Directors Web Design

Great article, Thanks for the information. I normally use analytics.twitter to analyse my traffic. Its a very helpful tool. I'll be using your techniques to improve analysis.

over 3 years ago

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Len Diamond, Principal / Writer at Len Diamond Technical/Marketing Communications

Maybe I still don't understand Twitter. Are traffic and sharing the ultimate objective(s)?
They sound more like the means to some end; yet for all the metrics sliced and diced above, I don't see a metric for results. If you're selling something, how many sales have you made? If you're proselytizing or advocating something -- a religion, a political candidate --how many converts have you made or votes won? Or is Twitter purely conversation and not a marketing tool at all?

over 3 years ago

Nichola Finan

Nichola Finan, digital marketing at Media-input

Hello Len Diamond - agree shouldn't this be more about creating these engagement types: link clicks, lead generation, subscribers, donations, sales? Maybe this is the next step, after the basics AKA your community is in place using the insight from Chris??

over 3 years ago

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