Another dot in the blogosphere?

Lessons from Twitter analytics

Posted on: September 3, 2014

When I first heard the news that Twitter made its analytics dashboard available to all, I jumped on it straightaway.

I was surprised to learn of my reach or what Twitter calls impressions. That said I have no doubt that others have a far wider reach.

But now I am wondering about the reliability of the analytics dashboard.

I discovered the analytics tools on 28 Aug. However, the date and time seem to be set for some other part of the globe. That said, my reach for 27 Aug as recorded on the morning of 28 Aug was 27,263 (see screencapture below).


The analytics engine was already collecting data for 28 Aug as evident by the small bar to the right of the highlighted one.

On 29 Aug, I checked for activity on the 28th. I moused over the 27th accidentally and noticed that the count went up to 28,842 (see screencapture below).


I am not sure why the numbers changed.

Perhaps the counts got adjusted for the time and date difference. Perhaps older tweets were getting views two or three days after being posted and their hit counts were not yet stable.

The numbers seem to settle about two days into collection. It might be best then to monitor on a weekly or monthly basis.

That was lesson number one.

What is worrying is the low engagement. I have read a few reviews by other individual tweeters [example from Gizmodo] and they say the same thing.

Each of my tweets gets between 4000 to 5000 views. But you can count on two hands (and occasionally include the feet) the number of reader interactions with the tweets. These include retweeting, favouriting, clicking on embedded resources, etc.

The tweets with higher interactions tend to be question-oriented. Ask a question and you are likely to get responses. The tweets with lower interactions are information-oriented. Provide something of value and the consumer consumes. Do not expect a thank you, feedback, or a pass-it-on.

This behaviour is not unique to Twitter. When I was privy to my former department’s Facebook reports, our engagement rate was equally low.

If I was a company I would be concerned that customers were not engaging with me. As an educator carefully curating and sharing, I might be a bit concerned about the viewing habits of my informal audience and learners.

I used to say today’s learner seems to move at twitch speed. This is not another way of saying they have short attention spans because they do not. Anyone who has observed someone else immersed in a game or in a state of flow will realize how much focus gamers have.

I mean to say that they move superficially from one resource to another due to the breadth of information presented to them. Their rallying cry seems to be tl;dr (too long, didn’t read).

Now I am tempted to say that my followers move at Twitter speed. That might sound like superficial consumption, but at least they read and read lots of seemingly disparate information. It is the brain foraging as this MindShift article points out.

So another lesson might be to leverage on Twitter as the learner expects. Not so much in a forced provide-feedback-in-a-classroom way, but in an informal, scattered goodies way or a curiosity-driven, #hashtag-focused chat.

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