This last post in my series on how to get the most out of Twitter looks at assessing the impact of your tweets.
Twitter has its own intrinsic pleasures – making new contacts which sometimes burgeon into friendships (both virtual and real-life), discovering new ideas and interests, keeping abreast of the latest news and developments, to name but three.
But this series has been aimed at those who are mainly Tweeting with their work hats on. Primarily, they are trying to communicate the sort of work that their police force or probation trust does and engage the interest of potential partners, politicians and commissioners and local communities.
Or in the case of @SirIanBlair and @TheCustodySgt they are trying to build public support for the police service and its battle against the public spending cuts and the implementation of the Winsor Review.
If you are investing some work time in being on Twitter, you (and your boss) will want to know if it’s time well spent.
If you have set yourself clear goals, it is, of course, much easier to measure your impact. There are plenty of real world ways of measuring your impact.
If you are running a force/trust official account, then the number of tweets requesting information/interviews from local media outlets is a great indicator of impact.
Similarly, if you succeed in engaging the online interest of local MPs, Think Tanks or other key influencers in a new project or initiative, you can consider your Tweeting time well spent.
If you are running a conference or training event and registrations increase after you have been tweeting links, you have clear evidence of impact.
There are plenty of other examples, depending on your own Twitter goals.
There are a whole range of new utilities which promise to measure how influential you are on social media.
I confess to having dabbled with Klout, PeerIndex and Kred which all claim to analyse your social media activities and rank your ability to influence others, normally on a scale of 1-100 (Klout and Peer Index) or even 1-1000 (Kred).
All these utilities are free and all have their backers and detractors. Increasingly, people in the know disregard the rankings and know that if people are determined enough and understand the algorithms, all three (and their numerous competitors) can be outsmarted and inflated scores achieved. Nonetheless, many US companies who are recruiting to social media or online marketing positions are said to discard job applicants with low Klout scores.
Frankly, these sort of utilities are mainly sops to our vanity. It’s fun to see your scores rise when you first take to the social media networks, but, ultimately, they are of little real value.
If you want to sign up, please do. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that a high score means that your tweets are having a great impact and that you can use the score in negotiating a pay rise.
There are, however, a wide range of other online analytic tools that are of more use.
If you are investing some precious work time tweeting, you will want a sense of whether people are reading your tweets, valuing them sufficiently to re-tweet and which links are of most interest to the most people. It is also useful to know which of your followers are most influential and most loyal.
I use two main utilities, both of which are totally free.
It automatically provides you with information on how many times your Tweets have been clicked, the country and source of these clicks and your most popular content (based on how many times people have clicked on your links).
As an example, here’s a couple of graphs relating to my tweets for the first half of this month:
This graph shows how many times the links that I tweeted were clicked on for each day of the month to date, together with the cumulative total of 1051 clicks noted at the bottom.
What I find most useful is which links were most popular:
At a glance, I can see both which articles/blog posts/other links were most popular. If you want to keep a record of these or show them to your boss, you can print them out, turn them into PDFs or export them into a spreadsheet.
I also use Crowdbooster which is very useful for giving you a quick visual snapshot of how popular your tweets are:
In the graph above, you can see all my Tweets from the last month.
The bottom or “X” axis shows how many times a Tweet has been retweeted.
The side, “Y” axis shows the total number of “impressions” of each Tweet. “Impressions” simply equals the total number of people who could have seen the Tweet. I have about 1250 Twitter followers, if a Tweet is re-tweeted by someone with 1750 followers, the total number of impressions would be 3,000.
The larger the circle on the graph, the more people have replied to a Tweet.
What this version of the graph doesn’t show is that if you hover over any circle, it will tell you which Tweet it refers to. The tweet which was re-tweeted 19 times (on the far right of the graph) was one I sent asking my followers to re-tweet if they wanted to show support for the recent police rally against the cuts.
Crowdbooster also shows you automatically which people re-tweet you the most and your most influential followers – i.e. the tweeters who have the most followers themselves, both of which are very useful things to know.
One extra little utility I find useful is that it automatically recommends the best time for you to send (or schedule) your tweets which is based on when most of your followers are online.
The main value of this sort of information is that it lets you experiment with tweeting in different ways, at different times of day and in engaging different followers.
If you want, for instance, to publicise a new report or initiative you can phrase your tweets in different ways, emphasising different hashtags, and schedule them at different times of day.
A quick look at Hootsuite will show you which tweets resulted in the most clicks to look at the report/initiative and a glance at Crowdbooster will show you which tweets were picked up and re-tweeted most or stimulated the most replies.
Tweeting is a skill or craft like any other and getting this level of detailed feedback helps us all to build our competence.
Perhaps an even better source of feedback is the Twitter community itself.
Many of us have had the experience of being taken under the wing by more established Tweeters – @injectingadvice diplomatically pointed out many of my initial faux pas and sent me many tips and tricks, usually by Direct Message to save my blushes.
If you’d like this sort of advice and support, contact a more experienced Twitter friend and ask – you’d be surprised how many will be only too pleased to help.
I am in the process of editing this series of posts into an online guide which will be made available for free on the Blog within the next week or so.
Next Wednesday kicks off a ten-week series of “Why I tweet” from a variety of police and probation Tweeters which I hope you will find useful.
We all develop an individual tweeting style and the more role models we have to copy, the better.
Have a good week till next week.