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How to Use Twitter Analytics

Twitter recently unveiled a pretty useful analytics feature that can help small businesses and marketers understand what’s actually happening out there in the ether after they hit that “tweet” button.

While Facebook seems to prefer to keep things vague on their end, lumping wide ranges of user activity into catch-all terms like “People Talking About This,” Twitter breaks it all down pretty simply, with a column for each type of relevant interaction.

This feature is nested under “Twitter Ads” found under the gear icon drop-down in the upper right-hand corner. Once there, you can move up to the upper left-hand corner and select either “Timeline” or “Followers” under the “Analytics” button.

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Keep in mind: you can do all of this without setting up any ads. And more importantly, you should dive into this information first, even if you are planning on starting ads on Twitter. By knowing more about your audience and what content is actually successful, there’s a smaller chance you’ll waste money on poorly optimized ads.

Analytics Timeline

The first thing you’ll see is in timeline is, well…a timeline. Along this horizontal axis, you can get a snapshot of good and bad days as three metrics are charted: mentions, follows, and unfollows. This is a good tool especially if you can make connections between these fluctuations in your fan base, and the content you tweet on each day. As you can see below, July 12th was a pretty decent day, and it’s worth exploring what we may have done right at that point. If you want to go even deeper, you may be able to discover whose mentions are the most potent for picking up new followers.

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Now let’s get down to the actual content. Your recent tweets are displayed below the timeline with corresponding assessments. A new layer of information is revealed here, detailing how popular each tweet was by showing favorites, retweets, and replies. Unfortunately you can’t sort by any one of these metrics, but you can let the computer sort by its own collective impression of success. By clicking on “GOOD” you will only view the top two-thirds of successful tweets in the last year. You can highlight the cream of the crop even more by selecting “BEST” which narrows it down to the top 15%.

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When looking at our best performing tweets, you suddenly notice two things stand out: a calculation of reach compared with your average performance, and a click count (for any embedded links).

Comparing two tweets — one about Google Fiber from March 13, and the other about mobile marketing from March 11 — we can see a few things:

  • Of the three measurable metrics, retweets seems to have the greatest effect on the scope of your reach. Even a tweet with more replies as usual didn’t pick up much traction. This isn’t too surprising.
  • However, the reach doesn’t correlate directly with just the number of retweets. The “mobile marketing” tweet had 2 fewer retweets than the “Google Fiber” tweet, yet it reached more than three times as many people. It doesn’t just matter how many times you get retweeted, but who does the retweeting. One retweet by a user with a massive list of followers will reach many more people than 5 retweets by more obscure users (no offense…I’m an obscure user myself).
  • If you’re interested in a different sort of engagement, like the number of clicks on the links you include, then you can simply follow the counter for each tweet. Keep in mind that the count is a total of all clicks on the same link – if you tweet the same link again, or even 10 times, then this count will include all of these clicks. However, if you use a different url shortener or change the link in some way, then that will count as a separate link. You can get a quick-and-dirty sense of your CTR for some of these tweets if you compare the reach with the number of clicks. Even though the “Google Fiber” tweet reached far fewer people, its link was clicked roughly 6 times as much as the link included in the “mobile marketing” tweet. That’s a pretty stark difference in engagement as far as CTR is concerned.

Analytics Followers

By looking at more information about your followers, you can better optimize your content to fit their interests. On the followers page, you’ll notice a curve (hopefully upward) that gives a visual for the number of your followers over time. Any spikes one way or the other should be cross-referenced with the Timeline page content so you can learn what may have caused folks to come into the fold or run screaming for the hills.

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Some other useful tools:

  • The left-hand column shows the interests of your follows and is certainly useful when it comes to appealing to the followers you already have. By doing that, you should increase the odds of retweets, which we’ve already discovered is the best way to expand your reach. Of course, on the topic of expanding reach, you should also use these topics of interest to inspire the use of relevant hashtags and get your name in front of like-minded communities. If a ton of heavy metal fans follow you, then it’s a good bet you can appeal to other #heavymetal fans.
  • The center column shows the distribution of your followers’ locations. More than just a fun fact, you can optimize your content by including information particularly relevant to news or events in these top places. You should also use this information to intelligently target any ads you may promote.
  • The right-hand column shows a gender break-down as well as a list of users that are also popular among your followers. Check out these profiles for insights into what you have in common, what they do better, and if you play your cards right, you may even introduce yourself and gain a friend or business partner in the process.


Ultimately, how you use Twitter’s analytics feature depends on what your end goal is — more followers, lots of retweets, high CTR, optimized ads, or new business relationships. In each case, there is a simple way to sift through the data and adjust your approach for greater success. It’s thankfully the end of tweeting into the abyss — now let’s see what real progress can be made with this information.

And plug alert! If you want to follow us as we explore these features ourselves, you can at @chicagostyleseo.

Sam Mock

Sam Mock is the Content Director at Chicago Style SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm. He can't wait for the day when writers unite to storm the gates of Google and gorge themselves on Cheez-Its in the break room. Connect with him on , and Twitter.

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