Blog - Written by on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 7:59

How to Track Your Twitter ROI

by Jennifer Van Grove (Mashable)

Aug 24, 2009 – If you’re using Twitter for business, there will come a point when you, or those you report to, will want proof that your Twitter efforts have a tangible return on investment (ROI). Although the industry metrics for success are still being defined, the nature of link sharing and the opportunities of Twitter search create an environment ripe for tracking.

You’ll want to sit down with your team to clearly define your goals, then survey the landscape of Twitter measurement tools, and merge the two to create and define reports that you can use to demonstrate real value.

1. Define Your Goals

Before you dive too deep, take a step back and define what’s important to your overall social media strategies and the company bottom line. Hopefully amassing a huge following on Twitter isn’t your main priority, but you still want to be smart about tracking follower counts, and setting expectations for your team.

Realistic expectations, such as how many new followers you can expect per month, are a great way to help you further define your social media goals so that you can try different tactics to increase the percent change over time.

Your goals should be achievable and measurable. So if you want to use Twitter to increase traffic to your blog, define the baseline immediately, and tap into a URL shortener to get better insight into traffic that Twitter is driving your way.

Some of the Twitter goals you can measure include Twitter giveaways, hashtag campaigns, link sharing, retweets, referrers, total followers, total following, and tweets per day, week, or month.

2. Pick Your Tools for Tracking

You’ll want to create a system that really works for you and your small business. You can use a combination of the following tools to make sure you’re generating insightful graphs, demonstrating ROI, and tracking specific campaigns.

Trendrr: The perfect Twitter campaign tracking tool for small businesses on a budget. Use Trendrr to track Twitter search results over time, as well Twitter user stats for following, followers, and updates per day. You can use their graphs to visually track change over time. The matching Twitter post report is perfect for viewing tweet count fluctuation per day for the course of a campaign. Just make sure to start the tracking process when you’re ready, as Trendrr only starts tracking when you tell it to.

Bit.ly: Twitter’s most popular URL shortener gives you insight on how your shared links are performing. You’ll get click data, referrer info, location graphs, and related conversations.

Tweetmeme: If your company has a blog, you can use the Tweetmeme retweet buttons to encourage visitors to retweet your posts, and then track shares via retweets and bit.ly analytics.

Hootsuite: This is a web-based Twitter client designed specifically with the professional user in mind. It’s an all-in-one tool that can solve some of the immediate challenges you face with tracking your company’s performance on Twitter. The application lets you save Twitter searches and groups as columns, embed your columns elsewhere, automatically feed your blog through Twitter, schedule tweets, and view user info.

Most importantly, HootSuite comes with a stats tab to give you insight into powerful Twitter statistics. Should you integrate with their URL shortener, you can view graphs and user demographics for users that click on your shared links. Also included are charts for clicks by region, top referrers, and stats on individual tweets.

Twitter Search: You can use the standard Twitter Search or one of the many different varieties like Twazzup, Collecta, or OneRiot, but you’ll want to make sure you always have access to your ongoing search queries. TweetDeck, HootSuite, and Seesmic Desktop or Web are great Twitter clients with Twitter search already integrated.

The Archivist: Use this Windows-only tool to export Twitter search results. This is especially handy if you’re conducting a Twitter campaign or giveaway using a hashtag or specific tweet criteria. You can then export the results to excel and slice and dice as you please.

ViralHeat: Though this tool is designed for web-wide social media tracking, it’s also a great way to get insight into specific Twitter analytics. Use the service to create profiles with keywords, phrases, names, or expressions. You can even include standard search operators, and share data with team members by adding them to a daily email list.

ViralHeat then works to aggregate web data based on your profiles, so you can view total mentions, mentions per day, daily averages, total unique authors, most active Twitterers, count and percent of retweets, tweets with a link, and sentiment analysis. Prices range from $10 – $40 per month depending on profiles, but you’ll find that it’s a much cheaper solution compared to more enterprise level tools likes Omniture.

3. Prepare Your Reports

Once you’ve decided what you want to measure and how you plan to go about doing it, the final step is to set up ongoing reports to highlight your efforts. Of course, as you start to become a more sophisticated professional user of Twitter, and you get a better idea of performance and expectations, you will want to refine those goals and reports.

One thing to keep in mind is that many of the tools listed do the tracking for you, but they don’t always organize data in a way that your boss or team members can measure against your goals. It might be a good idea to use your goals, create your own custom reports, and update them with the appropriate data on an ongoing basis.

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