Archive for the ‘reach’ tag
Reach is the size of the estimated potential unique audience for a set of tweets. We calculate reach algorithmically, based on data we’ve been collecting from Twitter since we launched more than five years ago. It’s a great way of estimating how large your audience on Twitter could be, and takes unique recipients into account, removing duplicates.
Impressions measure the size of total potential exposure. This shows you how many total timelines your tweets were delivered to – including multiple deliveries to the same account – so it’s a count of the maximum total impressions possible for a set of tweets.
If you’ve ever seen the analytics Twitter provides for your Twitter account, you’ve noticed they provide a count of actual impressions for each of your tweets. That impressions number shows how many times people actually saw that tweet. So you may be wondering how Union Metrics Twitter analytics impressions and Twitter impressions relate to each other. What do they each mean? Which one should you use? Why are they so different?
Twitter provides actual impressions for your tweets, while our Twitter analytics calculate total potential impressions for those tweets. You can use these numbers together to fully understand how impactful your tweets are. The number of actual impressions your tweets receive will vary from tweet to tweet and account to account, but your actual impressions will likely be between 1% and 20% of your potential impressions.
Knowing how your actual impressions compare to your potential impressions shows you exactly how well your tweets are performing, how large your activated audience is, and how large your potential audience could be. What’s the ratio of your actual impressions to potential impressions? Are your tweets on the low side? Do some tweets perform better than others? Ask yourself the following questions to help improve the ratio of actual impressions to potential impressions.
What tweets get the most impressions?
First, look at which tweets are seen – and engaged with – by the most people. What makes those tweets different from your lower-performing tweets? Maybe you used a particular hashtag or included a photo. Maybe you mentioned someone who retweeted you. Whatever it is, try doing more of that to see how you can activate more of your potential audience, and improve your ratio of actual to potential impressions. For example, we’ve found for our own content, hashtags like #smm and #measure help get our tweets in front of a receptive, responsive audience interested in social media marketing. And our tweets with an interesting photo or video get high rates of engagement. And when it comes to posts about our company, tweets using the #hiring hashtag generate a lot more impressions than an average tweet.
What tweets get the fewest impressions?
Next, look at the tweets that are performing the worst. Which ones have the fewest impressions and least engagement? Look for patterns in those tweets. Sometimes you can learn more from what’s not working than from what is working. For example, we’ve found that some of our text-only tweets get fewer impressions and lower engagement than our visual content does. But not every time – there seems to be certain types of images that work better than others for us. What do you see in your analytics?
What’s different about your outliers?
Finally, are there any tweets that get way more engagement or impressions than the rest of your tweets? Dig deeper into these tweets, in both Twitter and Union Metrics Twitter analytics. What exactly spurred that response? Twitter will tell you how many retweets, replies, clicks and favorites a tweet received, and our analytics can tell you who retweeted or replied to you and how much amplification they contributed to that tweet. Use this information to see what caused the spike, and think about how you can try to replicate this on future tweets.
Who engages with your tweets? And how?
Finally, you can use other metrics on engagement (like retweets and replies, average retweet rate) and contributors (such as the people who have engaged the most with your content and generated the most amplification for your content) to understand not just how far your content is reaching, but how and with whom. When taken together, along with actual and potential impressions, you can more completely understand what’s working with your Twitter account and how you can improve what isn’t.
You can run a free TweetReach by Union Metrics snapshot report here any time, on any hashtags, usernames or keywords. Try it now! Want more? Check out our comprehensive Union Metrics Twitter analytics, with real-time monitoring and analytics, starting at just $99 per month.
All TweetReach reporting includes a number of engagement and listening metrics for Twitter. Two of the main metrics we provide are potential reach and impressions. Let’s talk a little more about what reach and impressions are, and why they’re so important to your Twitter strategy.
Reach is the size of the estimated potential unique audience for your tweets. TweetReach calculates reach algorithmically, based on data we’ve been collecting from Twitter for more than five years. It’s the best way of knowing how large your audience on Twitter can be, and takes unique recipients into account.
Impressions measure the size of total potential exposure. This shows you how many total timelines your tweets were delivered to, so it’s a count of the maximum total impressions possible for your tweets.
Both of these estimated audience metrics are essential for understanding the full impact of your tweets, especially when used alongside Twitter’s internal analytics. Here’s how.
Reach and impressions for your Twitter account
Twitter’s analytics calculate actual impressions for each of your Twitter account’s tweets. That shows how many people actually saw that tweet. TweetReach calculates total possible impressions for those tweets. Use actual impressions and potential impressions together to fully understand your impact on Twitter. The number of actual impressions received will vary from tweet to tweet and account to account, but your actual impressions will likely be between 1% and 20% of your potential impressions.
Knowing how your actual impressions compare to your potential impressions shows you exactly how well your tweets are performing, how large your audience is, and how large your audience could be. What’s the ratio of your actual impressions to potential impressions? Are your tweets on the low side? Do some perform better than others? Use this information to determine how you can improve your ratio. Which tweets are seen – and engaged with – by more people? What makes those tweets different? Maybe you used a particular hashtag or included a photo. If so, try doing more of that to see how you can activate more of your potential audience, and improve your ratio of actual to potential impressions.
Additionally, you can use other TweetReach metrics on engagement (like retweets and replies, average retweets rate) and contributors (such as contributors who have engaged the most with your content and generated the highest exposure) to understand not just how far your content is reaching, but how and with whom.
Reach and impressions for competitors’ or influencers’ accounts
While Twitter’s activity dashboard focuses on your own Twitter presence, you can use TweetReach to analyze any Twitter account, including your competitors, influencers in your industry, celebrities, or any other public Twitter account.
Start with a quick share of voice analysis. How do your reach and impressions compare to those of your closest competitor? How about other similar Twitter accounts? Remember these are potential impressions, so know that – just like for your own Twitter account – your competitors’ actual impressions will be a similarly small percentage of their potential impressions.
For a more advanced analysis, dive deeper into competitive intelligence. Run TweetReach reports or Trackers for your competitors, then take a look at the popular content and top contributors in these conversations. What Twitter accounts are engaging with your competitors? Who are they and do you follow them? What hashtags are your competitors using? Are there any new or relevant hashtags you could use? What tweets are resonating in the conversation?
Reach and impressions for hashtags, keywords or other terms
With TweetReach, you can measure more than just a Twitter account – you can measure the impact of anything in a tweet, like a hashtag, a phrase or keyword, even a URL. Twitter’s activity dashboard only includes tweets posted from your account, so you can’t use it to analyze impressions for the overall conversation around a hashtag, for example.
You’re probably using a variety of hashtags in your tweets – some for specific campaigns or events and other more general hashtags to signal participation in a particular industry or conversation. Do you know the reach of those hashtags? With TweetReach, you can understand the potential reach and impressions for any hashtag, which helps you understand the size of the conversation you’re participating in. If a hashtag has a low reach, then you’ll be able to have a large impact in a smaller space. If the hashtag’s reach is high, you’ll less likely to make a big impact in the overall conversation, but you’re participating in a more popular topic. The best Twitter strategy includes a bit of both; use a combination of specific and general hashtags in your tweets to reach the most people.
Interested in learning more about how you can use potential reach and impressions to improve your Twitter strategy? We’d be happy to show you how to use TweetReach’s Twitter analytics to better understand the full impact of your tweets. Let’s talk!
Twitter’s new tweet activity analytics includes a set of metrics to help you understand the performance of your tweets. It provides a great complement to the Twitter account analytics we provide with Union Metrics Twitter analytics. Want to know how you can use them together to make the absolute most of your tweets? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Understand your brand’s impressions
Twitter’s analytics will tell you how many actual impressions your tweets received (defined as the number of times a user is served a tweet in their timeline or search results). Here’s an example of metrics for a tweet from our @unionmetrics account.
With our Twitter analytics, we provide a measure of potential impressions (defined as total maximum deliveries of a tweet) for each tweet. Here’s an example from a Tracker showing maximum possible impressions for the same tweet above.
Use these impressions numbers together to understand what portion of your audience you’re reaching and how impactful your tweets are.
2. Improve your tweet performance
Twitter’s new activity dashboard includes detailed metrics for each tweet, letting you know what kind of (and how much) engagement they receive. Over time, you can use this to learn what kinds of content perform better and use that to inform your Twitter strategy.
With our Twitter analytics, we can drill even further into the content in your tweets – the hashtags and URLs you share, including those from Vines or Instagram photos cross-posted to Twitter, which is especially helpful during a campaign that spans platforms. Here’s an example:
Combining these sets of data you can clearly see which types of content are being shared more, clicked through or favorited more, or some combination of those. Use it to test the same content shared in slightly different ways to see which clearly resonates most with your audience, and build a stronger content strategy tweet by tweet.
3. Measure engagement with your account
With Twitter, you’ll see stats on retweets, clicks, favorites and replies from the past month, including how these figures compare to the month before, like the image to the right. It’s broken down by tweets from your account, retweets and replies, and promoted tweets.
With Union Metrics Twitter analytics (pictured below), you get retweets and replies, and how that breaks down into an average retweet rate, in addition to an overview of your follower growth and the reach of your tweets. Look at an all-time overview of how many tweets you’ve sent with an average tweets per week stat, and all of your mentions, with an average tweets per contributor stat. This lets you understand your engagement levels with those who are contributing to the conversation around you; we’ll talk more about this in a minute.
Putting these together, you can see exactly which kind of content gets the most – and the best – engagement. If your how-to posts and tips and tricks are all getting favorited, you know which kinds of customers are looking for those resources and saving them to reference later. If your question-style headlines are getting the most clicks, you’ll know to write more of those in the future if you want to get your posts in front of more eyeballs. If your product posts are getting the most replies, look to see how many people ask further questions and how many thank you for sharing the information. Use their questions to inspire new posts and fill gaps in your FAQs.
4. Identify your biggest fans or advocates
Who’s engaging with your content and mentioning your account? Our Twitter analytics gives you a list of the top contributors to the conversation with your Twitter account, letting you know who your biggest supporters and advocates are, telling you who you should be paying attention to, engaging with, and rewarding and thanking. Being able to identify your brand advocates is absolutely invaluable to growing your following and increasing engagement.
Additionally, knowing who interacts with your account can help you understand more about who your audience is on Twitter. Is this the audience you want to reach? Should you shift your strategy to try and reach a slightly different audience? Twitter’s analytics will also help fill this part of the puzzle out; their follower analytics tell you where most of your followers are tweeting from and what they’re interested in.
Using our contributor list augmented by Twitter’s follower details will help paint a deeper portrait of the people who are most engaged with your account and the content you’re sharing. This will help you build the most informed Twitter strategy possible.
These are just a few ways you can use Union Metrics Twitter analytics together with Twitter’s internal analytics to improve your Twitter activities. And that’s just for your owned Twitter account analytics. We can also monitor hashtags and keywords on Twitter to help you understand larger conversations and trends. Learn more about how we can help you measure and optimize your tweets. Email us if you want to talk more!
The industries that have moved more slowly to embrace the social media world have, understandably, been the more highly regulated industries such as law and healthcare. But as social has moved from what some saw as a quirky new marketing fad into a steady part of our daily lives, so too have these industries followed– and now they’re playing catchup. After all, the percentage of Americans alone who turn to social media- and trust it- for health information is growing.
The first step is making a plan to figure out what metrics are going to be important to measure on each of the social sites you decide to have a presence on, such as Twitter. So what metrics should healthcare companies focus on?
1. Decide what your goals are
Healthcare companies or professionals using social media will obviously have very different goals with their accounts compared to businesses in the beauty, travel, or other industries; there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to social.
By figuring out what you want to accomplish you’ll know what it is that you need to measure. Here are a few ideas of what a social presence can mean for a healthcare company:
Provide health resources
Provide support by answering company-specific questions
Provide support by hosting chats with qualified professionals to answer health-related questions
Communicate new information; for example, explaining recent changes to your company, or explaining what the new Affordable Healthcare Act means to those using your services
A combination of some or all of these
Many of these things will spread awareness of your brand and amplify your brand voice, particularly if you decide to participate in or host tweet chats. (If you want more information on building or establishing a brand voice, go here.) Tweet chats also lead to higher engagement with your audience. Which brings us to our next step.
2. Measure based on those goals.
If your goal is to increase awareness of your brand, you’ll want to look at share of voice, or specifically metrics like volume, reach, exposure, and amplification relative to the volume, reach, exposure, and amplification of your closest competitors, if they’re on social media. If they’re not on social media but your target audience is talking more about them than you, you need to really ask what they’re doing that you’re not. Here are more resources to break down how to measure each of these metrics specifically:
For share of voice:
For a breakdown of volume, reach, engagement, influence and share of voice: 5 essential & easy social media metrics you should be measuring right now
For more specifics if you’re kicking things off with a campaign: The 5 easy steps to measure your social media campaigns
Amplification is definitely tied to share of voice- most metrics have some manner of overlap- but it’s also important to look at how others are helping to amplify your voice or your messages, which means looking at engagement as well. Retweets, annotated retweets (think the classic retweet, with commentary before the RT), link shares from your website, etc. The above resources cover much of this as well.
3. Rinse, repeat.
Social media is a constantly changing landscape, which can make it daunting to tackle, but the best way to go about it is just to jump in and listen, then start swimming. Establish a time period for regular evaluations- compile specific monthly metrics, schedule quarterly metric revisions- and investigate and change whatever isn’t working.
Social media basically consists of constant experimentation and adjustments, but with the right information it’s more of a fun and exciting project that a terrifying task. And as always, we’re here if you have questions.
Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery
This post was written by Union Metrics CEO and Founder Hayes Davis.
We started TweetReach in 2009 with a simple idea: to provide a simple report that showed people the reach of tweets about any topic. Since that time, we’ve grown far beyond that simple reach report and added comprehensive tracking, as well as many other metrics and insights. But reach is still something we care a great deal about, so I wanted to tell you about some changes we’re making to the algorithm we use to calculate reach.
This is a long post, so here’s the executive summary:
- We’ve built a new and extremely robust model for calculating reach that will replace our current algorithm.
- Historical reach data won’t change, and newly calculated reach will change only slightly in most cases relative to historical trends.
- This new algorithm allows us to increase our data limits across all TweetReach Pro plans.
- These changes go into effect next week.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about how we built our new algorithm, read on.
Setting the stage
Reach is a complex metric with many definitions across vendors and industries, so let me explain how we think about reach on Twitter. For us, reach is the total number of unique Twitter accounts that received at least one tweet about a topic in some period. Knowing this helps you understand how broadly your message is being distributed on Twitter.
For most of our existence we’ve measured reach by using Twitter’s API to determine the actual Twitter IDs of users who received tweets about a topic. From that copious raw data, we then applied a dose of math and lots of computational horsepower to derive our reach measurement. While this brute force method produces a very reasonable estimate for reach, it has some serious drawbacks in terms of meeting the needs of our customers. It slows down our reporting for customers pulling data on ad-hoc periods and – while our data limits are generous relative to our competitors – it meant we had to place stricter data limits than we wanted on our TweetReach Pro plans.
In addition to these increasingly frustrating drawbacks, Twitter has announced a major set of technical changes to their API. Included in those changes are additional restrictions on the API calls we make to determine the raw data we use in our reach calculation. So instead of working around those API limits and continuing with our brute force approach, we decided it was time to get smarter.
Investigating the data
At TweetReach, one thing we have is data – lots and lots of data. This means that we have an extraordinarily large archive of information about how campaigns work on Twitter, which goes back years and is unique to us. From these data and our experience, we know that the reach of a Twitter campaign is essentially a function of the number of unique contributors (users tweeting), how large their follower bases are, and the overall number of tweets. The question is: What are the mathematical parameters of that function?
We started our investigation by looking at what we call the “potential reach” of any conversation on Twitter. This is the maximum possible reach of any conversation if all people who tweet about a topic have no followers in common. While it provides an upper bound on reach, it’s obviously flawed; the assumption that no one has followers in common just doesn’t make common sense. It is, however, a good starting point, so we put it in a scatter plot to at least see if there was a relationship between potential reach and actual reach:
The way this graph turns upward at the end shows us there’s not a clear linear relationship in this data, but there might be if we plotted this on a log-log graph.
There is a nice positive linear correlation after all. However, there are also some pretty absurd numbers. In fact, some of those “up and to the right” data points in the first graph show a potential reach above 2 billion (nearly 30% of the world’s population and more than 8x Twitter’s 250 million monthly active users). As it turns out, this is what many in our industry call “reach”. But we knew we could do better.
Armed with the notion that potential reach had some value, we set out to combine that with other data to build an algorithm that could predict reach. We experimented with many different approaches that we applied to tens of thousands of data points derived from real Twitter campaigns. And after many iterations, we’ve developed an extremely robust model that explains 99.51% of the variance in reach on a Twitter campaign.
Below is another scatter plot (with a trendline) that shows our reach prediction model applied to a test data set.
The data have a nearly 1:1 positive linear correlation, and there are no crazy outliers. This means we can predict an accurate reach with an extremely high degree of confidence without having to resort to brute-force methods.
What does this mean for our customers?
For the vast majority of our customers there will be very little noticeable impact to reach. Most of you won’t see any change at all. But a few of you will see some small changes. We will not be altering our reach calculations for historical periods, so some of you may notice your future reach increase or decrease slightly when compared to historical levels. And since no model is absolutely perfect, a small set of customers may see somewhat larger increases in reach for certain campaigns. If you have any questions at all about a change in your reach, don’t hesitate to contact our support team and we’ll be happy to take a look!
But best of all, these changes bring some significant benefits to our TweetReach Pro subscribers. The first benefit is that viewing ad-hoc periods within a TweetReach Tracker will now be much faster than before. The second, much more exciting benefit, is that we’re now able to increase our data limits for TweetReach Pro plans.
We’ll be rolling these changes out next week and we’ll be communicating with you along the way. We’re extremely excited to share the results of this work with you – our customers! If you have any questions, please let us know.
The latest Twitter account to enchant us all, seemingly overnight, is bringing delight to grammar enthusiasts everywhere: “Your In America Bot” (@YourInAmerica) swoops in on unsuspecting offenders of the English language, who are, entertainingly, mostly trying to shame others for not speaking English.
Created on November 23rd, @YourinAmerica counted just under 15k followers only five days later, with an output of fewer than 100 tweets.
How is that possible? Let’s look at the reach of the single tweet above.
Here’s the activity breakdown for the tweet:
So actually 241 separate Twitter accounts contributed to the exposure of this one tweet, mostly by picking it up and retweeting it: 219 retweets, 12 replies, and 18 other tweets were made. On the day this tweet was published, the account had about 8,000 followers, meaning just about 3% of the follower base was able to lead to this much exposure on a single tweet.
And here’s where it really gets interesting: looking at who is doing the retweeting. @SarahSpain, ESPN1000 host, has a lot more followers than @YourinAmerica and her retweet of the original tweet is actually what generated the most exposure.
In this way, TweetReach helps you figure out who the major influencer is in the reach of this particular tweet, in way that would be much more difficult and time-consuming to figure out manually.
This gives you an idea of whom to cultivate relationships with on Twitter. If you see that one account with a lot of influence (be that a large audience or simply highly engaged followers) consistently interacts with you and/or retweets your content, you know they like what you have to say and are helping you grow your own audience.
For example, the second most retweeted tweet only had 7 retweets – compared to the original, unaltered tweet’s 207- but this is still important to note because it indicates that @alysonfooter has an engaged audience of her own. (Note that these numbers reflect the two messages that were retweeted the most– the original and one with the original message plus commentary. More retweets were also made with different commentary added to the original, which altogether add up to the total number of retweets made: 219.)
Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from @YourInAmerica, however, will be if anyone really does learn a grammar lesson. So far most of the victims seem to have deleted the offending tweet in question after falling victim to @YourInAmerica.
So your company is now officially participating in social media. You’ve set up a Twitter account, a Facebook page, even a few Pinterest boards. You respond to customer questions, follow fans, post important news, and thank your advocates for their support.
Beyond that, what are you doing to track and monitor these social interactions? If you’re engaging in social media, then you should be measuring those activities. How else will you know how you’re doing? The good news is it’s easier than you think to measure your social media efforts.
Here are five simple, but oh-so-useful social media metrics you should be measuring right now.
The first – and easiest – social media metric to measure is volume. What is the size of the conversation about your brand or your campaign? Volume is a great initial indicator of interest. People tend to talk about things they either love or hate, but they rarely talk about things they simply don’t care about at all.
While volume can seem like a simple counting metric, there’s more to it than just counting tweets and wall posts. It’s important to measure the number of messages about your brand, as well as the number of people talking about your brand, and track how both of those numbers change over time. For example, Facebook Insights has a useful metric (cleverly called “people talking about this”) that measures how many unique people have posted something to their walls about your brand page.
Learn when volume is higher – are there days or times when more people seem to be talking about your brand? You can use this information to focus more of your own posts during these times to get more engagement, which we’ll talk about in a minute.
Reach measures the spread of a social media conversation. On its own, reach can help you understand the context for your content. How far is your content disseminating and how big is the audience for your message? Reach is a measure of potential audience size.
And of course, a large audience is good, but reach alone does not tell you everything. Reach becomes very powerful when compared to other engagement metrics. Use reach as the denominator in your social media measurement equations.
Pick important action or engagement numbers like clicks, retweets, or replies (more on this in a second) and divide them by reach to calculate an engagement percentage. Of the possible audience for your campaign, how many people participated? Reach helps contextualize other engagement metrics.
Speaking of engagement metrics, this is one of the most important areas to measure in social media. How are people participating in the conversation about your brand? What are they doing to spread your content and engage with the topic?
In most social media settings, content can be both shared and replied to. Twitter retweets (RTs) and Facebook shares and posts are helpful to know who is spreading your content, while comments, replies and likes are helpful to see who is replying to your content. Think carefully about your goals with social media. Are you focused more on generating interaction (replies, comments) or on spreading a message (retweets and posts)? Be sure you’re using metrics that reflect what’s important to your brand right now.
And are there types of content that generate engagement? Start paying attention to what messages generate the most replies and RTs. It might surprise you what people interact with; it’s not always what you expect.
Who is talking about your brand and what kind of impact do they have? Influence is probably the most controversial social media metric; there are myriad tools that measure social influence, and they all do it in different ways. But one thing they all agree on is that audience size does not necessarily relate to influence. Just because someone has a lot of friends or followers, that does not mean they can encourage those followers to actually do anything.
Based on past actions, we can make assumptions about how influential someone might be in the future. This type of potential influence is useful to decide who to reach out to when you’re preparing for a campaign. Tools like Klout and PeerIndex assign people an influence score. Tools like these measure online social capital and the (potential) ability to influence others.
Kinetic influence, on the other hand, will help you understand who is participating in and driving conversation about your brand and your campaigns, and who gets others to participate in these specific conversations. You can find your brand advocates by focusing on people whose messages are amplified by others, and not just who has the most followers.
5. Share of Voice
Finally, to really understand how well you’re doing on social media, you should consider a share of voice metric. How does the conversation about your brand compare to conversations about your competitors? Determine what percentage of the overall conversation about your industry is focused on your brand compared to your main competitors. And learn from your competitors’ successes; since so many of these social media conversations are public, you can measure your competitors’ impact just as easily as you can measure your own.
Consistency and preparation are essential to effective social media measurement. Pick your favorite metrics and start tracking them now. Use the same formulas and tools to calculate these numbers every week or month. Track your numbers over time and pay attention to how they change. If you see anything that looks higher or lower than what you typically expect, investigate it. By measuring – and paying attention to – these five social media metrics, you’ll be able to better understand the impact and effectiveness of your social media activity.
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with notable members of the social media analytics and measurement community. This week we’re delighted to welcome Laura Beck, Founder of stripedshirt.com and a 20-year PR professional, where she has consistently focused her energy on helping create awareness and buzz for early stage technology companies.
TweetReach: Welcome Laura! Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe you first “ah-ha” moment?
Laura Beck: I’ve been on LinkedIn since mid-2008, and always have and continue to think of that as more my online rolodex; my contacts database. But, I got hooked on Facebook early, and hard, and it’s been consistent. I joined a year prior, in mid-2007 more for personal networking, keeping in touch with friends, planning high school and college reunions, seeing regular snapshots of the lives of the people I care about. But, my ah-ha moment on social media, I guess, was CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in January 2009, when my hand was forced to join Twitter: some press friends were scolding me for not being on yet and threatened to make @fakelaurabeck and tweet away. I had to defend my Twitter turf, get my handle, and start to participate. And, while scary at first, holy cow to a fantastic way to engage with people in quick, direct ways.
TweetReach: How important was measurement in your initial strategy and how has that evolved?
Laura Beck: Initially, Twitter was play time and wasn’t about measurement at all. It was a science experiment — to see if you could reach someone, if they’d respond, if people would pass on something you tweeted. That quickly has evolved to Twitter being as critical and legit a communications channel and an information channel as blogs, online publications, even print publications. So along those lines, when you are doing public relations these days — for a client or for yourself — you best know the impact of every hit, every mention. That includes Twitter, blogs, even LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr — IF you could measure all these, and figure out the impact, the reach.
TweetReach: Let’s talk about consistency in measurement. Agencies and marketers have had to use a variety of tools and metrics to analyze the performance of their social media efforts, resulting in inconsistent results. How important is the ability to measure and report on social media results in a consistent way to you and your clients?
Laura Beck: Holy cow, it’s the holy grail. Even being able to measure and report at all with some sort of metrics, even if inconsistent, not apples to apples. Anything at all is something. We’ve been talking about this for years — and now it’s 20 years later. We’ve never been able to crack the code, get beyond “ad equivalency” or circulation as a basis for value, for the worth of a hit or a mention. And those approaches have been archaic for print publications for years, let alone online outlets, let alone blogs, let alone a tweet. This is the holy grail, but no one’s found the cup yet.
TweetReach: Olivier Blanchard and others have written about the need to look at social media measurement in the context of a broader business measurement strategy. What do you think? Is measuring social media success useful by itself?
Laura Beck: For the past 2-3 years, I’ve considered all things social media “just another channel.” Seriously. My business always, ultimately is PUBLIC relations. Not press. It’s about reaching and influencing the publics, a company’s targets (whether customers, or partners, investors, employees, etc.) positively, and moving them to action. A blog post, a tweet, a Facebook update, a YouTube video — any of these may do the trick. They are another channel to positively reach a target. Therefore, all things social better be part of the whole marketing mix. And therefore, all things social should be measured, considered, and factored in along with all business measurement. Something social may just directly create a sale, and you can be darn sure all things social indirectly affect sales, awareness, perception of a company, a brand, an individual — positively or negatively.
TweetReach: Traditionally media success has been measured using reach, impressions, exposure. How important are these metrics when looking at social media campaigns? What else to you need to measure?
Laura Beck: I think these measures are just as important in social as in any marketing campaign. But again, holy heck are they hard to measure, quantify, and value. Overall impact is still both a volume and a value game, and hopefully we are getting to a world where it’s the value that matters -– reaching the right people, versus thousands of people where you hope something sticks with a few. So while sheer reach and overall exposure are important — blog readership, twitter followers, how many times something was retweeted — again, with social, where you can be laser-precise, I’m hoping we are getting to a place where the measure of success of a marketing campaign could be clearly tracked down to who was reached and what action they took. Literally, really measuring “conversions” versus just impressions. Whereas PR has almost always been air cover for sales, with social, we have the opportunity to be the ground team, too.
TweetReach: Let’s talk about the measurement of reach – how do you weigh the importance of the quantity of a campaign’s reach – the overall size of the potential audience – vs the quality of that reach? Both are important, but how do you help your clients understand the difference and the impact?
Laura Beck: This is what I’m getting at above, a bit. And my personal theory, at least in Twitter, is that ideally a brand wants to find, mine and engage on an ongoing basis with 100 true fans. Period. If you can find the right people with the right power of influence, and mine them (get to know them, get them to know and care about your brand), and then engage with them on an ongoing basis, have real conversations — boom — you have success. They are brand advocates, they pass on their love for your brand to their networks, and it’s genuine, and pure, and “third party.” This is what I think the future of social COULD be, and wow, would it be more valuable, time efficient, respectful to all and end a lot of the echo chamber stuff we have flying around right now with just volumes and volumes of information and the same content recycled. But, we have to all work together to prove it out, and have some case studies and examples of it working. THAT will help companies believe and take on this approach as well.
TweetReach: Thanks for your thoughts and time, Laura!
After 18+ years working for PR agencies, Laura Beck is focused on independent marketing and PR consulting as well as running her own commerce business, www.stripedshirt.com. Until May 2010, she ran the Austin Texas office of Porter Novelli for nearly 10 years, opening it at the very end of the dot com bubble in 2000 at 29 years old. Under Laura’s leadership, the office grew to staff 16 people and serviced upwards to 25 clients at a time. Laura’s focus for the office and personal passion has been largely technology start ups, working with entrepreneurs to bring their dreams to life, gain critical visibility, create positive buzz. That continues now as an independent consultant.
Laura’s expertise — and love — lies in client counsel, project management, strategic program development, media relations and staff development. Laura prides herself with being active on the press front lines every day and loves nothing better than successfully placing a good story, which she still does regularly, all the way up the line to New York Times profiles, and Wall Street Journal reviews. In fact, Laura was named one of PR Source’s 35 Top Tech Communicators of 2008, as so voted by the media.
Prior to her 10+ years with Porter Novelli in Austin, she was with the Boston office of the agency. Before that, Laura was with Lois Paul & Partners. She began the 18-year agency stretch at Weber Group, now Weber Shandwick. Laura is a decade-long Austin Texas resident now, but her Boston roots will always run deep with love for her Boston College alma mater, and the Red Sox, so much so that one of her two little Texas-born daughters sports the middle name Fenway. You can bet all these Boston colors, and many more, are represented by stripedshirt.
We often get asked about reach. How is reach calculated? Why reach? How can you really know how many people were reached? These are great questions and a big part of our business – we even named our product after it! At TweetReach, we think reach is one of the most important, but also one of the most misunderstood, metrics in social media. Our reach metric calculates the size of the potential audience for a message and this metric is an essential measure for any earned media campaign.
How TweetReach calculates reach
First, let’s talk a little bit about what we mean by “reach” and specifically how we calculate reach at TweetReach.
Typically, reach refers to the capacity or range of something. In the case of earned and social media, reach is the size of the potential audience for a message. What is the maximum number of people who could have been exposed to a message? In newspapers and magazines, reach is measured through circulation numbers. In television, we use Nielsen ratings to understand a TV program’s reach. For social media, we have TweetReach.
So when you run a TweetReach report, the reach number in your report reflects the size of the Twitter audience for your search query. Our reach number is a count of the unique Twitter accounts that received a tweet about your topic. It’s an actual computation of unique Twitter IDs, with duplicate recipients removed. Our reach metric is not an approximation or estimated ballpark figure, nor is it total impressions or exposure; it’s the real size of the potential audience.
Why reach matters
So, why go through all the trouble of calculating reach? Why does it matter? Because reach helps you understand the full impact of your tweets. Reach provides context for other engagement metrics. Reach quantifies the size of your message’s universe and helps you understand if your campaign is successful.
Think of reach as the denominator in your measurement equations. Use reach with action or engagement numbers like clicks, retweets, or replies to calculate an engagement percentage. Of the possible audience for your campaign, how many people participated? Reach helps contextualize other engagement metrics.
Other reach resources
Obviously, this is something we think about a lot. If you’d like to hear more, we have a few ideas about how you should use reach to contextualize and interpret your campaign’s success. We’ve also written about the relationship between reach and overall impressions. Finally, here’s more detail about how we calculate reach, exposure and other metrics. So, what’s your TweetReach?
Recently, we read an interesting blog post from Tom Webster about the limits of online influence as he asked for help supporting the people of Christchurch, New Zealand after the terrible earthquake they experienced. (A very worthy cause. Please help him out!)
He makes a lot of great points in this post about the weaknesses of influencer campaigns on social media like Twitter. While TweetReach doesn’t calculate influence, a number of people use our tools to help determine influence and influencers, so naturally this post grabbed our attention (and he quoted some TweetReach numbers in the post, so that helps too). In general, we agree with Tom’s overall premise – influence is a messy, complicated concept, and far from being fully understood or properly utilized.
Matt Ridings of Techguerilla added this comment to Tom’s post:
I think what you *are* exposing is that in a medium like Twitter, simple reach has very little to do with success. And that is a big thing for people to know indeed.
We absolutely agree. Now, of course everyone wants large numbers for reach or exposure, but they have to be put into context along with action metrics like clicks or actual transactions. Our reach metric, which is the number of unique Twitter accounts that tweets about a topic were delivered to, is a measure of the size of your potential audience. A high reach means a large audience, but it doesn’t guarantee that members of that audience will actually do what they’re asked.
So what is reach good for? We think reach is the universal denominator. It belongs in an equation to normalize other metrics. If reach is the size of your potential audience, how many people actually acted on a tweet? Divide your action metric by that reach. Depending on your goals, that action number could be anything from retweets to clicks to purchases on your website. With reach as a denominator, you can use this number across campaigns and time periods to start to really understand your effectiveness. Without reach to normalize these metrics, you’re flying blind. Clicks were up 20% this week? Great! But is your campaign actually improving if your reach increased by 50%?
Where does this leave influence? Right now the familiar influence metrics essentially work by saying that someone has influenced people to do some social activities in the past and therefore could potentially influence people to do them again. This “potential influence” is a little like predicting the weather by assuming it’ll do the same thing today that it did yesterday. It’s often right, but you frequently end up soaked without an umbrella. The point here is that a message from an “influencer” as part of your campaign is no guarantee that you’ll get results. Your message may not resonate with his or her audience, Twitter might be failwhaling, or it might just be a pretty day and everyone’s outside.
Successful campaigns are about reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time. Those are all difficult things to do but there are a couple approaches that can help. First, you can’t rely solely on algorithms – learn your industry and the true influencers (as humans understand the concept). Develop relationships with them and they’ll help you spread the word. Second, measure, measure, measure. This is where reach and other metrics can truly help because they give you a baseline to measure performance over time so you can try new things and learn from your mistakes. In the end combining these ingredients will help you succeed.
Photo credit: Running through the storm by yooperann