September 14, 2011
Twitter has (finally) announced a native analytics product that will be publicly available. In its post on the subject, Twitter laments the fact that “people have struggled to accurately measure the amount of traffic Twitter is sending to their websites.” That’s true. Twitter hasn’t provided its own analytics platform with detailed insight for website owners (brands, bloggers, media). This has left marketers with no context other than what they could gather from tracking traffic from the Twitter web app, and more recently, shortening all links to a “t.co” domain. This recent move allowed all Twitter traffic to come in as a cleaner referral source (including from third party apps). Now with a Twitter web analytics product, marketers will be able to go deeper into understanding the link between Twitter, their content and user engagement. But how should you get started? What should brands do to begin to gain actionable insights and report success of their content in Twitter?
Getting more detail from a powerful referral traffic source such as Twitter is compelling for brands already sophisticated with web analytics. We’ll share some ideas for analytics ninjas in just a minute. But before that, a disclaimer: more data doesn’t lead to better decision-making or actionable insights if you’re not already using existing tools. After all, Twitter is just one referral source of a sample set that’s basically infinite. For brands with healthy online marketing programs Twitter will be a small, albeit important percentage of referral traffic. Marketers should ensure they’re implementing the following web analytics best practices before incorporating Twitter (or any new) analytics.
There is elegance in simplicity in marketing dashboards. More metrics are not better unless they lead to better decision-making or help prove success of a tactic in a meaningful way. In Twitter’s case, this is likely the latter. That’s because digitally-savvy media and brands set up in a hub and spoke model likely don’t have difficulties reporting success from social as they’re already funneling traffic and attention to a source destination. But insight and data – direct from Twitter – into how content is being shared across the network, brought together with traffic and engagement events like ReTweets, may provide additional rationale for those looking to justify their time there. As each brand is unique, which data points are brought in (and where) should be taken on a case-by-case basis.
Once Twitter analytics are implemented on your website, it’s time to use this data to improve your results from the network. The insights given are mostly centered around content and sharing, so using this data will help marketers iterate what and how they publish to increase traffic and engagement from Twitter. It is important to keep in mind Twitter represents just one part of your online community, and iterating off a single network’s response is shortsighted. Look at the whole picture of your community’s traffic sources: email subscribers, RSS readers, Facebook fans, search engine traffic, other blogs / media, etc. in combination with analytics from Twitter. This will allow you to make informed decisions from a more holistic set of data and a wider audience. Existing tools and platforms will of course plug into this API in order to deliver data more efficiently to marketers, so it is worth reaching out to any existing vendors you may be using and finding out how they plan to incorporate this data. LEWIS as an agency already implements web analytics for PR, so we’re excited at this news and look forward to using this data to improve client content, community engagement and templates.