You can access these dashboards in one of two ways – either become a Twitter advertiser or be a website publisher with Twitter Cards markup implemented.

Don’t be put off becoming a Twitter advertiser if you’re not planning on using this paid channel right now, as you can create an ad, either to build followers or promote a specific tweet, with a minimum spend of just a few pounds (which will allow you to test the ads you create anyway).

Here are a few simple ways in which you can use the various dashboards to get some actionable ideas to help with your marketing planning and campaign activity. For the purpose of this article, I have focused specifically on the Timeline and Followers dashboards.

And for more information on this topic, check out our article detailing how to setup and access Twitter Analytics, and our guide to using Twitter for competitor analysis.

1. Export your data to find content ideas

To get the best out of the data in the Timeline dashboard, you should export it. The visual dashboard shows your activity for the past four weeks, but when you export (either to an .xls or .csv file) you can then get up to 500 tweets-worth or 90 days of data, whichever is the greater.

Once in your spreadsheet, you can then re-sort the tweets by the number of favourites, replies or retweets. Favourites are the equivalent of Facebook ‘likes’, so you may want to concentrate more on looking at which tweets got the best levels of retweets or replies.

By identifying the content of the tweets that gained the best engagement, you can use this to guide your social posting. Find out what types of messages your followers liked, then tweet more of them. By revisiting regularly, you can then gauge further trends around this.

You can also test other elements within your messages and refine them further – do your tweets with hashtags perform better than those without? Are you getting more retweets when you add an image to your tweets (bearing in mind that now pictures display a preview in Twitter’s desktop and mobile apps)?

2. Find those key advocates

Again using the Timeline dashboard, you can sort the display by engagement type, then click on those ‘best’ tweets to see who exactly has been retweeting, replying or favouriting them.

You can then make a note of these people in a list and track how often they engage with you. A simple spreadsheet is good enough to start with – you could even add labels to people too, so you can then assess what sort of use they could have in the future (for example, ‘brand advocate’, ‘journalist’, ‘marketing partner’ etc.).

Go one step further and create a private ‘Twitter list’, then you can monitor what these people are tweeting about, which may give you good opportunities to engage further with them.

3. Investigate your followers’ interests

The ‘Interests’ section displays what Twitter believes are the ‘most unique’ and ‘top’ interests of your followers. Some of these may be unsurprising; however, you can use this information to help with your tweet messaging or to even dictate what you blog about and then promote via Twitter.

Depending on your account, many of the interests are likely to be related, such as ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising’. However, you may spot some that are different and offer ideas for content that you may not have considered before.

For example, if a proportion of your followers have a listed interest of ‘startups’, then tweet about related content that will appeal to them.

4. Determine where your engaged audience is located

The ‘Location’ section breaks down your followers into the top countries and cities they are from.

These lists can be used to devise local content that’s related to those places. For example, if London is a key city for your followers, then why not tweet about ‘Top five places in London to do/buy/see xxxx’.

And, if your customers are global, use the countries list to create country-specific tweets for the most popular ones.

You may want to use a bit of caution with location, as potentially you may have accrued visitors from countries where you wouldn’t ideally want them from, which will therefore skew your figures.

5. Find out who else your followers follow

Another section of the Followers dashboard is the ‘Your followers also follow’ section, which shows the most popular Twitter accounts your followers are following.

Often these may be competitors or similar accounts within your industry. Therefore, this intel can be used to regularly check what they are tweeting about and help you discover what appears to be working for them in terms of engagement. You can then craft your own tweets in a similar vein, if appropriate.

Again, adding these accounts to a private Twitter list may be useful for you to keep them in one place.

This section can also be helpful in showing whether your followers are the ‘right sort’ of followers. If they are following lots of accounts that are not related to your business, then it may be an indication that your follower-growing strategy needs tweaking, as you are attracting people who may not be as relevant to your brand’s target audience.

Another way we use this section is to help show which people to target when running Twitter ad campaigns (which allows you to target the followers of certain accounts). This has led to much higher levels of engagement from the ad campaigns.

6. Grow your followers further

You could also use the ‘Your followers also follow’ list in combination with Followerwonk’s ‘Analyze followers’ tool. Run a report on the followers of a particular account and then find users that you may want to target yourself by simply following them or engaging with them.

The followers report can be sorted by ‘Social Authority’, so you can easily identify the influencers and key accounts that you would like to have following you.

All tooled out?

There are already hundreds of other Twitter tools and platforms available that allow you to dive into your stats and you may well be using them already. Having said that, you may be like me in that you sign up for what looks like a great tool, use it once and then never again.

If you get into the habit of checking your Twitter Analytics dashboards regularly when you log in to tweet, then you should start to see a positive effect, in terms of engagement, reach, follower growth and more.