Monday, January 19, 2009

Twitter Analytics

There is a lot of discussion recently about how to measure authority, influence etc. on Twitter. There are a lot of tools popping up which claim to give some kind of score to help you measure you (or anyone else) against everybody else. This post is not about those tools and which ones I like (more on that later). This post is about things that we can track for sure.

There are millions of Twitter users who are tweeting every day, hoping and assuming that there tweets are being read by their followers. We can’t track all tweets and find out if they are being read but if you are one of those who post a link in your tweets then you are in luck. This post will show you how to track URLs posted in your tweets so that you can determine for sure if anybody is reading those tweets and also what kind of tweets from you are getting the most attention.

There are two types of URLs you post in Twitter

  1. URL to your site
  2. URLs to third party sites

  1. URLs to you site – When you post a link to your site on twitter, you can treat it as a campaign just like a banner or search campaign. Add the campaign tracking codes compliant with your web analytics tool so that you can see the visits, page views, conversions and other web analytics data when a visitors clicks on your tweeted link and arrives on your site.


    I use Google Analytics (GA) and you wanted to post a link to, instead of just posting in my tweets, I add GA campaign parameters to the URL being posted.
    utm_campaign, utm_medium and utm_source are three query parameters that GA uses for campaign tracking.

    Link to Be Tweeted:

    Adding GA Parameters:

    Now when I use WebTrends for Web Analytics then I use something like

    Adding WebTrends Paramater: Where WT.mc_id is the Webtrends campaign tracking paramter.
    You can use which ever web analytics tool you like, the key is adding the campaign tracking parameters the URL to be tweeted. It is that simple.

  2. URLs to third party sites– Quite often tweeters post links to sites for which they don’t have access to the web analytics reports. For example, you posting a link to my blog, you don’t have access to my Web Analytics Reports. As a results you have no idea how many people click though to the link that you tweeted.
    For such tracking I like a utility called CLIGS (Note: I have no affiliate with this tool). This tool creates a short URL for any URL that you want to tweet. It than also provides you the clicks on that links as well as other stats such as
    • Geo Locations of visitors

    • Social media monitoring Cligs keeps track in real time of who tweets your link, who shares it on Friendfeed, who links to it, who blogs about it, who writes a blog comment about it, and more. Not just that, Cligs does that for the destination URL too!

For the sites that I have access to the web analytics data, I create a tracking url as I showed above (1) and then use CLIGS to shorten the URL (2), this provides me both CLIGS and Web Analytics data for analysis.

Apart from tracking on links the other ways to determine if your tweets are getting attention is to see the number of Retweets you get, direct messages and @replies you get. I will cover those in my future blog post.


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    1. Man! I can't believe that escaped me!! Sure, why not using campaign parameters! Good post.

    2. Yep, adding campaign parameters is the way to go.
      I even wrote a GreaseMonkey script in making my life easier for adding campaign parameters.

    3. We've been using campaign tracking codes for a while now. (to those who saw this as an ah-ha moment, how are you tracking the other external referrals to your sites...scary)
      While the volume is never huge from the links in the posts, there is activity which in itself is good to see. The part we really want to get to is understanding, do those followers talk about our site and encourage other friends to visit..this is more of the manual mining of other tweets which takes more resources and is tough to guage. How are others evaluating social media (not just Twitter) to get that holistic picture?

    4. The problem is that many people are tweeting from third party app, or mobile devices, and the tracking is near impossible. There is no referral attached. Some of these 3rd party apps need to allow campaign tagging so we can track these things in GA or Clicky.

    5. you can use Google Analytics URL Builder to create the URL as explained in the first case.

    6. Amazing posts and i hope it is a great invent for tracking.


    I would like to hear your comments and questions.