The Twitter analytics dashboard is both fascinating and depressing at the same time. It shows how many people actually see your tweets (the equivalent of ‘reach’ or ‘impressions’ in advertising lingo), and it is a sad, sad story (at least for my account). Anywhere from 10-20% of my followers see my tweets depending on the format, content, time of day, and whether it was shared. Twitter tries to soften this blow by helpfully providing lots of graphs and stats to let you know how bad you are doing, but the summary is that you are talking to far fewer people than you might think.
How to access your analytics
To see your own Twitter account data, go to Twitter Analytics here. If you can’t see your dashboard, I’m told that supplying your credit card info when prompted here will unlock your analytics section.
Here’s a typical example of what you will see:
This TNW article suggests that news media are now pumping out the same tweet several times per day after suddenly understanding how low their reach is. The result? Potentially a lot of repetition in your timeline. A good suggestion is made for Twitter to suppress showing you a tweet if you have already seen the link – because Twitter knows this information, right? And we know Twitter knows, because they just showed us in the Analytics dashboard.
The secret about RTs
It is a little known fact that Twitter already does this for RTs. To prevent your timeline being flooded with multiple RTs, Twitter will not show you all the individual retweets of a particular tweet once someone you follow clicks that RT button. Subsequent RTs of the tweet from people you follow will be blissfully unseen. Think about it; how many times did you see the original tweet of Ellen deGeneres’ Oscar selfie in your timeline, even though many of the people you follow would have shared it? This suppressed state lasts for an unknown period of time after which it’s back to normal. Then you will see a RT of the original tweet if someone you follow reshares it, and the process starts again.
This only applies to the native RTs using the retweet button, not the manual version which insert ‘RT @twittername’ at the beginning of the shared tweet. I’ve tested this out myself, and it’s true. It can mean that if someone RTs your tweet very early after you have tweeted, then subsequent RTs won’t be seen by a group of your potential audience for possibly hours. Use your RTs wisely! If you are helping a friend or a brand by retweeting, and you have many followers in common, then it may pay to hold off your RT until a bit later on.
If Twitter applies this same logic to repeated tweeting of links by brands or news media, it might help clean up a saturated timeline – especially for power users who are checking Twitter frequently, or for people who are following a small puddle of tweeters. However, this approach may result in more promoted tweets to get the reach those organisations are after.
Either way, I am not a fan of the suggestion that a Facebook-like algorithm could be applied to the Twitter timeline. I don’t know a single person who thinks the Facebook algorithm works well or is thrilled to see posts many hours after they were originally posted, so please let’s not ruin Twitter too. Please.