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How Brands Should Integrate Twitter Web Analytics

Twitter has (finally) announced a native analytics product that will be publicly available.

In its post on the subject, Twitter laments the fact that “people have struggled to accurately measure the amount of traffic Twitter is sending to their websites.”

That’s true. Twitter hasn’t provided its own analytics platform with detailed insight for website owners (brands, bloggers, media). This has left marketers with no context other than what they could gather from tracking traffic from the Twitter web app, and more recently, shortening all links to a “t.co” domain. This recent move allowed all Twitter traffic to come in as a cleaner referral source (including from third party apps).

Now with a Twitter web analytics product, marketers will be able to go deeper into understanding the link between Twitter, their content and user engagement.

But how should you get started? What should brands do to begin to gain actionable insights and report success of their content in Twitter?

1. Assess your readiness for more data

Getting more detail from a powerful referral traffic source such as Twitter is compelling for brands already sophisticated with web analytics. We’ll share some ideas for analytics ninjas in just a minute.

But before that, a disclaimer: more data doesn’t lead to better decision-making or actionable insights if you’re not already using existing tools. After all, Twitter is just one referral source of a sample set that’s basically infinite. For brands with healthy online marketing programs Twitter will be a small, albeit important percentage of referral traffic.

Marketers should ensure they’re implementing the following web analytics best practices before incorporating Twitter (or any new) analytics.

  • Report success as part of a process: you’re likely already implementing Google Analytics, Omniture or a similar robust web analytics package. Ensure you’re reporting this data up to key stakeholders in a marketing dashboard monthly along with what tactics have affected this month’s numbers, and what you plan to do next.
  • Shift to data-driven decision-making: ensure web analytics are informing decisions regarding all online marketing tactics: content creation, community building, PR, SEO, search advertising, etc.
  • Go beyond clickstream (top of funnel) data: set up and track (multiple) critical conversion goals in web analytics if you don’t already have them in place. You can find out, right now, the immediate value of any one channel. And with Google having introduced multi-channel funnels almost everyone has untapped opportunities in their conversion path to discover.
  • Organize your social presence in a hub and spoke model: with a self-hosted presence (such as your company blog) at the center. Twitter is just one community, so before diving into a singular platform, ensure your main web presence is one that is platform agnostic and optimized for the social web as a whole.
  • Capture social interaction data from all major networks: Google now lets you set up social engagement for all critical social platforms, so you’ll want to ensure you’re tracking all buttons being used on your website and blog templates to get the whole picture.

2. Assess where (and if) new data points from Twitter fit into existing dashboards

There is elegance in simplicity in marketing dashboards. More metrics are not better unless they lead to better decision-making or help prove success of a tactic in a meaningful way. In Twitter’s case, this is likely the latter.

That’s because digitally-savvy media and brands set up in a hub and spoke model likely don’t have difficulties reporting success from social as they’re already funneling traffic and attention to a source destination. But insight and data – direct from Twitter – into how content is being shared across the network, brought together with traffic and engagement events like ReTweets, may provide additional rationale for those looking to justify their time there.

As each brand is unique, which data points are brought in (and where) should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

3. Start using Twitter data to inform content

Once Twitter analytics are implemented on your website, it’s time to use this data to improve your results from the network. The insights given are mostly centered around content and sharing, so using this data will help marketers iterate what and how they publish to increase traffic and engagement from Twitter.

It is important to keep in mind Twitter represents just one part of your online community, and iterating off a single network’s response is shortsighted. Look at the whole picture of your community’s traffic sources: email subscribers, RSS readers, Facebook fans, search engine traffic, other blogs / media, etc. in combination with analytics from Twitter. This will allow you to make informed decisions from a more holistic set of data and a wider audience.

Existing tools and platforms will of course plug into this API in order to deliver data more efficiently to marketers, so it is worth reaching out to any existing vendors you may be using and finding out how they plan to incorporate this data.

LEWIS as an agency already implements web analytics for PR, so we’re excited at this news and look forward to using this data to improve client content, community engagement and templates.

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