Measuring the Metrics: The Twitter Stats That Really Matter

One of my favorite projects to work on for clients is putting together their monthly KPI report. It may seem weird, but there is something relaxing about taking a break from the writing-intensive world of PR and looking at cold, hard, objective numbers.

But how do you process a seemingly endless amount of data, determine what data will resonate with your client, and then package it up in a way that ties objective data (number of engagements, link clicks, impressions etc.) to subjective posts (tweets)? The last two are easily the most important steps in the process if you want to showcase the value behind all of the hard work you’ve put in. Because here’s a lesson I learned very early on in the social media side of my career: clients really don’t care about the majority of the Twitter metrics, they just care about raw results.

Twitter provides public relations and marketing professionals a platform to engage in meaningful conversations and connect with influencers, not generate large amounts of traffic. So while boasting 22,780 monthly impressions might seem impressive to you, it really doesn’t show any tangible value to the client. At the end of the day, the metrics are there to show you not just how your content is performing, but to provide insight on the quality of your content as well.

Ultimately, the metrics included in your KPI report need to answer these two questions:

1) What are the client’s priorities and desired outcomes of this social media program?

2) Are your social media efforts providing a ROI reflective of their desired outcomes?

Here are a few key metrics I find valuable when reporting to clients or measuring the success of a campaign:

  1. Link clicks: While link clicks are a useful way to determine the number of people engaging with your content, they also are a great indicator of how well-written the post was. Users won’t click the link if your tweet isn’t engaging, no matter how interesting the content you’re sharing is. This metric is also great for illustrating success in lead generation or a particular call to action, such as getting people to register for an event or take a survey. It’s important to use tracking URLs, such as bitly or the Google URL shortener, to measure the effectiveness of these links.
  2. Re-tweets/Quoted Tweets: The number of re-tweets or quotes a tweet receives are also great indicators of quality content. Re-tweets and quote tweets show that not only did the user consume your content, they also liked it enough to share it with their followers.
  3. Engagement: Engagement is when a user clicks anywhere on your tweet – so in my KPI reports I prefer to break down the type of engagement to clients (likes, comments etc..). However, I think overall engagement is a great benchmark to assess the quality of the content and a great indicator of when to post. The overall engagement metric tells you when your followers are active and, most importantly, consuming content, rather than pushing their own out.
  4. Engagement rate: This represents a tweet’s engagement divided by the total number of followers. I don’t focus too much on engagement rate, though it can be a good indicator of the quality of your follower-base. If a client seems really focused on their number of followers and want to “buy followers” to match their competitors, I like to show them minimal cost-to-benefit buying followers provides via the engagement rate.

At the end of the day, the most important steps public relations professionals can take when discussing social media metrics with their clients include determining what success looks like for those clients, creating a social plan that will provide measurable and meaningful metrics, and using select KPI metrics to illustrate the business benefits of the social media activity. So, stop sending those massive data charts and instead focus on providing insights from the few key metrics that truly matter.