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Measuring Success on Twitter

The Wonderful Tweeting Twitter Bird

How do you measure success on twitter in terms of marketing?

When it comes to marketing campaigns, most people would think that measuring success on a messaging platform like Twitter would be a fairly straightforward matter. However, nothing could be further from the truth. As we have discussed in the first article of our series, Twitter is many things to many people. If you are a market researcher, it would look a great market researching tool. If you are looking for trends, Twitter is a great way to find the latest trends in differing aspects of social experience both online and offline. When it comes to your business, there are many ways to measure success on Twitter. It also depends on what your goals are. Setting the right goals means setting the right expectations and expectations dictate how you are going to measure your level of success. If you set your expectations based on the wrong goals, then you will just be disappointed regarding your success measurements. They all flow together. You have to pursue the right goals with Twitter and set your expectations and measure those expectations accordingly. Any break in this chain results in irrelevant and useless data.

Differing Ways To Measure Twitter Success

When it comes to tracking success for your website, there are five key measures of success on Twitter. This discussion analyzes each of them in detail because we need to get a clear understanding of what they are so we can then hook them up to our marketing objectives. If we have an unclear conception of these metrics, our marketing initiatives and our campaigns may not achieve the success that we are shooting for. The five key metrics of Twitter are sales or e-mail leads collected, clicks to site, visits to a Twitter page, followers on Twitter and retweets. These are not all the metrics marketers use for Twitter. However, they are the most common. Getting a clear understanding of how this success metric works will help us fine tune our marketing campaigns and this would help us to set the right expectations and execute our plans properly.

Metric 1. Sales or E-mail Leads Collected

These are the holy grail of online marketing. Who would not be thrilled about generating sales or collecting e-mails? Sales are the life source of most online businesses. Whether you are selling services or products, sales are your key goals. They represent revenue and profit. While that is easy to understand, direct sales are also one of the hardest success metrics to use on Twitter. If you are using Twitter in its normal use which is branding or to maintain conversation with your target costumer, it is still possible that you would generate sales, but you would not want to just depend on sales as the key metric for your Twitter activity. You will just be setting yourself up for disappointment. The hard truth is that Twitter is a very lousy if you use it the way it is normally used which is for branding and conversation and customer tracking. However, there are certain tweets that can be implemented for Twitter that may increase its sales performance. Still even with these tweets, you would be setting yourself up for disappointment if you expect great sales through your Twitter feed. Your Twitter activities must be part of a holistic collection of brand marketing for you to generate sales through Twitter. There are better platforms for direct sales and we will discuss that below.

Email Collection Specifics

Related to sales are e-mails collected. E-mails collected are just as valuable, if not, more valuable than sales. They are more valuable because you can continue to send communications to your e-mail list throughout the life of the placement of the e-mail on your e-mail list. This makes for a powerful marketing tool that you can message sales materials to on a repeating basis. The problem with using this metric on Twitter is that the conversion ratio, in parallel with the sales ratio discussed above, is not very high. You have to truly tweak your Twitter marketing activities so you can get the e-mail collection figures that you are looking for. There may be better platforms to collect e-mails and we will discuss that with the sales discussion below.

Metric 2. Site Clicks

This is a very direct measurement of success. Do people click the links that you sent to them via Twitter to go to your site? This is very straightforward. However, your success with this metric truly depends on how credible you are with the people that are following you. Also if your tweets are of high enough quality that they are being retweeted by your followers, this success metric may also yield a higher result. While you would probably get more clicks to your site using Twitter than sales or e-mail leads, you should not set your expectations too high. Twitter is a branding platform. This means that the time between the moment your link appears and the moment the recipient clicks on it may be an extended period of time, if at all.

The Waiting Game

Do not expect that just one tweet blast will do the trick. It is all a question of getting your message in front of your target customers on a constant basis. Eventually there will be clicks, but do not expect it to happen overnight. As we have mentioned several times before in this series of resources on Twitter, Twitter marketing is a marathon and it is not a sprint. Thinking that if you send a tweet to your followers that they will click on the link immediately is thinking along the lines of a sprint. You have to think of your Twitter marketing activities as a marathon. It takes several impressions of the same content link for you to get a click. This is the reason why it is very important to keep the conversation going and that is why you should look at Twitter as a branding tool. This will adjust your expectations regarding a heavy click volume and gear it towards what it should be used as, which is as a branding platform.

Metric 3. Visits to Your Twitter Page

This is a more realistic metric because sustained and persistent @ message or # campaign is bound to generate a steady stream of visitors to your Twitter page. While measuring this volume is almost impossible, it is still a measure of how valuable your content is on Twitter. That is why you need to pay attention to how many people click through your Twitter page. Either clicking through the URL that you put under your profile description or clicking through your @ messages and # messages to your Twitter page and becoming a follower. This metric is not subsumed within followers because it requires special attention. You must make your page attractive enough and professional enough so people would want to trust you by following you. Remember your first impressions count and a lot of the times you do not get another chance to make another impression.

Your Twitter Page: Making First Impressions Count

When it comes to Twitter pages, you have to snag them as much as possible the first time they look at your page. This means investing in a professional customized Twitter background and choosing your words carefully regarding the font and the messages that you put on your Twitter page. Your value proposition of your profile link or the links that you post in your tweets must be communicated succinctly and very clearly through your Twitter page. You should outline carefully and effectively why people should follow you and why your tweets are worth their time. There is no shortcut to this. Most of this is trial and error. It is well worth it because the objective here is to generate a large following on Twitter. The more followers you have, the higher the likelihood that somebody would read your updates and the higher the likelihood that they would retweet whatever it is that you say. That is why it is important to consider Twitter page visits as a success metric because it pushes you, mentally at least, to consider Twitter page design options and to put in as much time into defining and tweaking your band for your twitter page to become of high enough quality to attract new followers.

Metric 4. Twitter Followers

This is where the tire meets the road when it comes to Twitter branding. Sure you follow a lot of people and you send a lot of @ messages. You participate in many # discussions and you may also be sending direct messages. At the end of the day, the score for your Twitter effectiveness is greatly reflected by the number of followers you have. We use the term greatly reflected because it is not the only measure of success on Twitter as you could tell by the discussions above. However, this is the clearest indication of your success. The more people that follow you, the more people will receive your tweet updates. Why is this important? The more messages you send, the more persistent you are in sending your messages and the higher the quality of these messages, the higher the chance that your Twitter followers will be branded. You want to brand them. You want to put your value proposition in front of their eyeballs. You want them to equate your product or service with their particular needs. Obviously you do not do this overnight. You do not do this with one tweet or even 1,000 tweets. It takes time. That is why continuous flow of tweets without being too heavy is the way to go. You do not want to spam your Twitter followers.

Two Definitions of Tweet Spam: Quality vs Quantity

Spamming means two things: Sending them low-quality and irrelevant tweet updates or sending a huge amount of tweets in a short period of time. Both are bad news. Stay away from those methods. Send tweets only if you have something of value to send. If not, shut up and do not send a tweet. Each tweet says a great deal about your character. It says a lot about your brand’s value. Do not waste this opportunity by sending garbage. On a related front, do not erode your brand’s value by sending huge blocks of tweet messages. Send them at a measured pace and try to study the clicking pattern of your Twitter followers and see what timeframe most of them view your tweets. Again this is done through circumstantial evidence. There is no direct measuring tool that will tell you what that time is. You have to look at your website’s statistics, and see which clicks came from Twitter page or your tweets and then correlate the times. It may take some doing but it is well worth doing. Once you have established a rough time period when most of your tweets are read, target that time so space out your tweets during that time block. Conserve your tweets to avoid wasting tweets by sending messages at a time where most of your Twitter followers will not be reading them.

Metric 5. Re-tweets

This is the golden standard of influence on Twitter. This truly is one of the best measurements of Twitter’s value for your marketing campaign. However, retweets measure only one thing–influence. The good news is if you have gained influence, then you have pretty much succeeded. Influence means credibility. It means people believe you. It means people think that what you have to say is important and it is a very good thing to have. Influence is measured by retweets because most people will not retweet to their followers messages that they think have low value. They will not repeat a message that they think is garbage. They will not re-broadcast and risk their own credibility with their followers, retweeting a message that perceive will not add value. Re-tweets are a good measure of how well you touch other people’s imaginations on Twitter.

Quality Fuels Retweets

Thus, it is very fundamental to send high-quality tweets. High-quality tweets involve studying the profile of your target customers and addressing their needs. It involves selecting or composing high-quality content that directly address their needs. It does not have to be serious material. If you want to establish a brand as hip, cutting edge, informal casual type of brand, then funny pictures, amusing links and entertaining news links would work. However, if your target audience is a group of buyers that are interested in the details of a particular industry, then the tone of your tweets must be adjusted accordingly. Do not send funny or trivial links when you are trying to target serious people and vice versa. Part of increasing your retweet volume by increasing your tweet quality is trying to get a firm lead of your target audience and adjusting your tweets accordingly.

Retweets measure the reach of your content’s quality

Re-tweets are the golden standard of success on Twitter because it shows how many people you could reach. Re-tweets do not measure the people that you reach in your Twitter feed. You may have a small amount of followers. However, your followers keep retweeting your content so that other people see your content and they retweet to their followers who then retweet. Do you see the picture? It is an explosive scenario. Time and time again, people with very small circle of friends on Twitter end up influencing a lot of other people because their messages are retweeted. It is very important that your tweets are of the highest quality possible. You just do not know who is listening to you on Twitter. Your target readers are a tweet away, therefore act accordingly.

Setting Twitter Expectations and Goals

As we mentioned earlier, your goals set your expectations. If your expectations are set the wrong way, you could easily get discouraged. You can easily lose hope and you can easily give up. That is the last thing you want to do when it comes to marketing. Marketing like other things that are worth doing in life is a game of stamina. It is a long haul affair. It is not something that you start one day and finish the next day. The results are often not immediately seen. It takes perseverance, determination and commitment. You are greatly helped with all these factors if your expectations are set properly. However, if you do not shoot for the right goals aiming with the right metrics, you will not be able to set your objectives properly. They all flow into each other. They are interlocking pieces of the same puzzle. Therefore, it is essential to set proper goals because this will set your expectations.

Oppositional Pairs Highlight Values within a Process

What are the three main sets of marketing goals on Twitter? We organize them in oppositional pairs for you to get a clear understanding of what these goals are and their definitions are clearer when they are opposed to each other. There are three key oppositional goals with Twitter: branding versus sales, influence versus site visits and retweets versus direct clicks. Getting a thorough understanding of how these oppositional pairs work will give you clear enough idea so that you can set your goals accordingly. Only you know your business intimately. This the reason why we are setting up these oppositional pairs so you can pick the right goals. The right goals can only come from a clear understanding of your business’s needs. That is why you have to analyze these oppositional pairs and then sit down and spend some time on what your business’s marketing needs truly are. From there, execute accordingly.

Branding versus Sales

Branding does not require numbers. It only requires stamina. Even if you have only five people following you, there is still a branding opportunity as long as you send them quality content which they have the opportunity to retweet. You must not look at a low number of followers as an instant indication of failure. Even if only one person is following you, as long as they have followers there is still hope because Twitter is such a powerful tool that people with a low amount of influence as measured by Twitter followers can explode that initial level of influence through quality tweets. How? When people retweet a quality tweet of yours, it goes to their follower list who can then retweet. The amount of retweets is really infinite. Even if you have just a very flimsy list of followers, do not lose heart. You have to always keep in mind the opportunity that is in front of you. Just keep cranking up quality and eventually things will turn up. Of course, you are still have to do other things to beef up your follower list, but at the top of this list should be making sure that you are sending only quality tweets.

Sales and the Branding Process

Sales on the other hand are at the end of the process. Sales indicate that you have successfully branded people enough that they click through links and have ended up on your sales page. This may mean that they had to click through a whole series of pages to get to your sales page or you may have sent them a sales link directly. Setting sales goal is important, but it must be at the end of the process. It must be at the end of conversing with the target audience. It must be at the end of the branding process. It must be at the terminal point of the process of continuously sending quality content. It does not happen at the beginning. It may happen as weird things happen or even get lucky, but 99.9% of the time, sales are at the endo f the process. By looking at branding versus sales, you would see the big difference between them. This oppositional pair focuses you on the process of getting your message across, of clearly communicating your message and making your value proposition clearly known. It is only when you have completed this process can then this lead to sales. They are not completely opposed to each other. They are not 100% opposites. However, they are at opposing ends of the spectrum. At the front end is branding. At the end of the process are sales. We have paired these two together so you do not flip the process over. We have put them in oppositions to do them in order instead of attacking sales first and then branding later. You must brand first and then you can sell.

Influence versus Site Visits

Building up influence on Twitter is a marathon process. There are no short cuts. It all boils down to the quality that you offer. If somebody is peddling garbage, chances are people will not follow you. Sure you might have followers, but a lot of the time these are automated software accounts that follow you in the hopes that you would either add them or that they would send you @ messages in essence to send you marketing messaging. We are not saying that this is necessarily spam. It might be much targeted, but spam is a very real possibility in this scenario. The key is to get a lot of followers through high-quality tweets. This is a key measurement of your influence. The more people that are on your list, the more influential you are. Of course, we already know as discussed above that retweet is the golden standard of Twitter when it comes to measuring influence. However, the follower list is also a very valuable measure. Do not neglect it. The more people follow you, the higher the chance that your quality tweets will get retweeted, the higher the chance that the retweeters have a substantial amount of followers who can then retweet. See the chain of probabilities? You are just helping yourself by increasing your follower roster. You can do this only by cranking up quality tweets.

Site Visits: The Result of Building Influence

At the other end of the spectrum are site visits. Just like the discussion on sales above, site visits are important. The more people click through your Twitter page to your website where you can then sell them or you can then try to collect e-mails from them, the better. However, site visits should not be the number one objective. The key is to build your Twitter follower list first because without a long follower list, your level of influence is substantially lowered. If your level of influence is lowered, then there is less chance that people would click on your links and visit your site. This all leads to disappointment and low site visit. You have to set site visits as a goal only as the end of the process of influence building. This does not mean that you should neglect your number of site visit, but it means you should use it as a metric for measuring how well you are doing in increasing the number of your Twitter followers. Do not get these two out of order. You have to boost influence before you going to get site visits.

Re-Tweets versus Direct Clicks

Following the discussions above, retweets must come before valuing direct clicks. By focusing on the amount of retweets your content is getting on Twitter, you are effectively measuring the quality level of your work. This is a better way to proceed than just blindly counting clicks and then getting discouraged. The proper sequence is to measure how much your tweets are being retweeted. There are tools you can use online that measure your influence using the retweets. You need to search them via Google and you will find them many retweet indexes. They are easy to find. Using these tools, you can see how many people retweet your messages. Certain Twitter tools themselves show you how many retweets you have been getting. The higher it is the better.

Retweets measure your impact

This should be your primary goal because it is a great measurement of how well people react to your content. By fine tuning your Twitter activities based on how many times you get retweeted, this directly boosts the quality level of your work. It also impacts your timing and the volume of your tweets. Keep tweaking your tweet quality until you get it right. This does not happen overnight but it has to be done continuously. It can get boring at times, it can get tedious and it may seem pointless, but it is an effort worth doing because you are investing in the quality of your brand. By focusing on getting retweeted as much as possible, you are actually boosting your content and brand quality directly.

What does your audience find important?

You can track your retweets by paying attention to which content gets retweeted the most. This gives you a clear idea as to what your target readers value. It gives you a clear idea as to what they find important. You then create new material based on what they like. This is a call and response situation, like a feedback loop. You do something and you measure the results and the responses. If there is a low response, you then do variations of that action or you do completely different actions. Thus, you find the responses and then zero in on the category of actions that got the most responses and then you do more of those. You try to zero in on what particular messages people like the most, what particular topics, and then you do more of them and see how it affects your level of retweets.

Get more clicks by tweeting content your audience wants

You will eventually reach a point where you can get the pulse of your Twitter followers by hitting the same topic over and over. Of course, the content must be fresh, new and of high quality, but in knowing the type of material that they will retweet greatly helps your success. The other end of the spectrum is direct clicks. If you measure your success in terms of direct clicks from the get-go, you will be very disappointed because you have not built a high enough level of influence and perceive brand quality yet. You have to put direct clicks at the end of the process instead of near the beginning. By putting a lot of effort and study into your retweet patterns and adjusting your content accordingly, your direct clicks should increase.

Measuring Success Values

The value of your metric really depends on what your objectives and expectations are. However, this revolves in terms of your goals. The bottom line is that you must set the right goal. You can only do this by studying closely what it is that you are offering. If you are offering a specific product, you have to list what needs to happen before your product is sold and then adjust your metrics accordingly. It has to proceed according to a specific timeline or else you are just wasting your time because you would be putting sales ahead of branding. You would be putting site visits ahead of influence level. You would be putting direct clicks in front of retweet volume. You must line up your objectives. Of course, the end objective is always a sale or an e-mail lead collected. Those are the most common objectives.

Creating a hierarchy of objectives

However, there are other objectives that precede those, that you could do a good job so that you can boost your sales in the end. Even if you are not selling a particular product or service, if you make your money through advertising, ad clicks are at the end of the process, but you should treat them the same way as sales. They are the end of the process. You have to hit the objectives that come before sales, lead collection or ad clicks which is branding, branding and branding. Building up your influence level is branding. Building up your retweet volume is branding. The good news is Twitter is the perfect branding platform. You have to look at the value of your whole Twitter exercise from the viewpoint of how well you are branding, and then you can set your objectives and expectations accordingly. This all flows from a very thorough and honest assessment of what it is that you are trying to sell and what it is you are trying to achieve. From there, you break it down to value propositions to your readers and then you can set your goals accordingly.

The Bottom Line About Twitter Marketing & Success

Twitter as a standalone marketing vehicle can yield positive values if you shoot for the right goals. However, you must not neglect that it is a very powerful supplemental tool. If you are already branding and marketing using other methods like search engine marketing or forum promotions or Facebook promotions, Twitter is a great way to supplement those promotional channels because not everybody responds to marketing material the same way. You can recruit people to your Twitter feed and then send them messaging later to brand them so you can then get them to buy at a later point. The same goes if you are posting on forums. If your links go to a specific web page, you can then engage in a long-term conversation with your website visitors who are probably only going to visit once by having them subscribe to your Twitter feed. Similarly if you are doing ambient amount of forum marketing, you could market your Twitter feed in order for them to see your updates outside of a forum. There are certainly many ways to slice this. There is article marketing and there is press release marketing. The bottom line is Twitter empowers you to engage in a long-term discussion with your target audience. Do not waste that opportunity by posting garbage. Use this as a supplemental tool, if not a primary tool, to get the ongoing conversation and branding process going.

This concludes our series of guides for twitter as a marketing platform. Follow the link below to go back to our first resource in this serie.

Part 1: What Twitter Looks Like and What It Really Is