What is the reach of a Tweet?

Our corporate Twitter account (@DevonCC) has been live for over 4 years now, in that time we’ve gained over 8,000 followers (closing in on Lady Gaga) and sent over 4,500 tweets covering a variety of services and issues:

  • press releases
  • campaign messages – Car sharing, road safety, social care.
  • road/highways updates – roadworks, travel conditions and journey times
  • emergency alerts – severe weather conditions, flood alerts
  • And giant spider attacks…well not many of these

Live tweetingWe’ve also trialled tweeting live from public events such as our community roadshow, cabinet meetings and the county show.

We aim for our account to be more than just a broadcast of corporate messages we’ve tried to engage with the public by responding to enquiries, retweeting useful partners messages and encouraging conversation.

It is important to us that our account provides a purpose and adds value to our communications plan. We have always looked for best practice and used a variety of tools to assess progress and success.

The typical metrics that I’m sure most people are familiar with tracking are followers, mentions and retweets. These metrics can be pretty useful as an indicator of an accounts development and activity.

Twitter promised to release an analytics tool for their network a year ago but as yet nothing has been released for anyone but advertisers.

In the meantime we’ve used tools such as Tweetreach to assess how large our audience is, Topsy to monitor hashtag usage and TweetArchivist to profile our account (key words, top users).

These are all useful tools in their own right, but there’s been one metric that we’ve been wanting to know for quite a while.

What exactly is the reach and engagement of individual tweets?

This is important as it allows you to judge the impact of tweets, question their success and test alternative methods. Did the tweet reach as many people as we hoped? What variables might affect the reach (Time of day, tone, content)? Did people engage with the message? How can we improve the message?

Now you can manually do this by looking at each tweet and checking the number of mentions and number of followers connected to account that retweeted you. However, doing this for every message would obviously be pretty laborious. I’ve been looking for a tool for a quite a while now that could do this for us, and the other day I found one.

Crowdbooster seems to have been around for over a year but I stumbled upon it a couple of weeks ago. It provides a dashboard displaying some very useful information such as follower growth, Influential followers, top retweeters but also impressions.

Crowdbooster impressions

The Impressions dashboard visualises a record of your tweet history colour coding your tweets depending on their reach and number of RTs. You can then select individual tweets which then show the users that RT’d you and their follower count.

A tweets reach

The next step is to capture this data and start experimenting with our account. We will be looking at the:

  • types of messages we send  (campaigns, alerts, information, multimedia)
  • time we send them
  • tone of message – formal vs informal

This tool will allow us to analyse the results and hopefully by the end of the process we’ll finally be able to answer some questions about what the impact of a tweet is and how we can tailor our messages to benefit our audience.

I look forward to reporting back you what we learn. Stay tuned…

4 comments on “What is the reach of a Tweet?

  1. Good post. Agree that a Twitter analytics tool would be good – we’re loosing track of all the third party tools we have to use to keep on top of Twitter monitoring. Still, at least we get to learn one new product each month (or so it feels!)

    • Russell Taylor on said:

      Thanks David, hopefully in future more tools like this will combine some of the functions of other tools so there aren’t so many to use.

  2. Lynda Bowler on said:

    Useful stuff Russ. Facebook seem much more switched on when it comes to analytics – but I guess they are more commercial?

    • Russell Taylor on said:

      Thanks Lynda, Facebook seems to be more responsive to requests for analytics. Not sure why Twitter are dragging their heels.

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