Twitter for editors: How to know if your brand account is doing a good job

It goes without saying that pretty much every media brand out there – including, I guess, every local and regional newspaper, has a presence on Twitter.

Knowing how effective that Twitter account is for the brand is a different matter. There are a plethora of Twitter analytics tools out there – some good, some bad – but few make it possible to see, at a glance, whether your brand account is doing its job.

That’s why I like foller.me so much. In one quick view, you can get a real feel for a brand and how it is – or isn’t – connecting with a community.

This post is based on the following assumptions:

  • Automation is bad. I’ve no problem with advance scheduling of Tweets – that’s very much a good thing, especially if you are doing so with an audience in mind – but allowing headlines (and worse still, the first few words of an intro) onto Twitter doesn’t look good.
  • Interaction from the brand account is good, but on-going dialogues with just one particular person just makes everyone else switch off.
  • The primary aim of a Twitter account is to connect with a community and get them to connect with your content. Links, therefore are essential
  • But you also want to be useful, so linking to others also helps people value what you do.

Here’s what foller.me shows. Enter the Twitter address of a brand and off you go:

menoverview

The first thing which appears it the overview, as seen above from the Manchester Evening News main Twitter account @mennewsdesk. Things to note:

  • It’s been verified (this means it has a green tick next to the name on Twitter). This is important because it’s a sign of authenticity
  • The biography is simple and straight to the point.
  • There’s a link to the MEN website. Another title I work with, the Birmingham Mail, also links to its Facebook page – this is a good idea as people are likely to spend more time on there than on your website.
  • Getting the timezone right is very important as many Twitter analytics tools (including this one) rely on this for useful data.

foller2

Next up are the key statistics. Volume of Tweets becomes irrelevant over time, but if you’ve got an account which has been active for any period of time with few Tweets published, you’ve got an obvious problem.

Other things to note:

  • People can get very hung up by the number of followers an account has, but it’s more important to know how you’ve accrued your followers. A slow, steady growth is always preferable to using a tool which promises you 15,000 new followers overnight, unless you really do want self-proclaimed porn stars from Texas following your brand.
  • The best way to gain followers is provide information which they find interesting, and to ensure your presence on social media is a two-way experience – while you can’t reply to everyone, you can reply to some
  • The listed number is probably the most important one here. The more lists you appear on, the more people have taken the trouble to include you in a dedicated feed which they are likely to turn to.

foller3

 

Topics, hashtags and mentions provides a wealth of information which gets to the heart of what your Twitter account is about. The largest word on the Birmingham Mail Twitter account is Birmingham – hardly a surprise, and words like dead, assault and crime show it’s pushing out a lot of breaking crime news. Things to note:

  • I’m pleased the word Villa isn’t bigger – there’s a danger of too much of one theme appearing on brand accounts for newspapers and their websites, which by their nature cover lots of things. The Mail has an Aston Villa Twitter feed too - and any content you write a lot about which you think will get its own following should have its own account.
  • I like to see thee word ‘live’ on these word clouds at the moment, as it’s a sign of live coverage of events, and I’m convinced live blog coverage of news events is, in a mobile age, the future.

hashtags

 

In the hashtags section you see the hashtags which have appeared in your Tweets in recent days and weeks, based on the last 100 Tweets. The example above shows the Liverpool Echo’s main account – @livechonews. The obvious ones are in there – LFC and EFC – plus ones like #monthehoops, a hashtag associated with Celtic fans. Things to note:

  • Hashtags are largely organic and once in use tend to stick, eg #twitterclarets for Burnley FC. It’s worth using them to ensure your content is seen by the people who you want to read your content.
  • One or two hashtags per Tweet looks ok, any more than that and it starts to look spammy.

 

follerlivechonews

 

And in the mentions section, you see the people your brand account is most often referencing in Tweets. There are many, many Twitter accounts for media brands which have a big empty space in this part of the foller.me report. The Liverpool Echo’s example above is good because:

  • They are clearly referencing lots of different people, including their own writers, people and organisations they are writing about (eg LFC) and responding to regular readers too
  • Referencing your writers gives users the chance to follow them
  • Referencing other media organisations/sources of content makes you more useful to followers

Foller.me then provides a Tweets analysis of your last 100 Tweets. This is probably most important bit:

foller6

 

This part is always going to be subjective, but my view is that it should look a bit like this:

foll.er100

 

This why:

  • Reply sparingly – your Twitter account needs to be two way but your messages are also going to a lot of people, who won’t appreciate their timelines filled up with lots of replies
  • Plenty of mentions – thanking people in batches for their responses to something is a good idea, as is making sure the Twitter names of those who are subject of something you’re linking to
  • Retweets are essential if you are to be part of the Twitter community – but make sure they are from sources you trust
  • Tweets with links – the majority of your Tweets should carry links
  • Tweets with media – this one is a little flaky as it’s vague as to what counts as ‘media’ – but pictures and videos should be there

Underneath these numbers will be a reference to ‘most linked domains.’ If this only has your domain name, then you need to start linking out to others more. Linking to Facebook – where there might be a good discussion – or Flickr and Pinterest, when you have lots of images, should be common too. If dlvr.it or one of the automated Tweet tools’ URL is the most linked to domain, it’s probably a good idea to find out just how much automation you’re doing.

Under the Twitter clients usage section, you will find straight away just how responsive your Twitter account is. If it’s dominated by the likes of dlvr.it – an automated tool – rather than Tweetdeck, one of the Twitter management tools, then it’s time to take action.

And finally, there’s this:

foller7

 

This shows when your Twitter account is most active. UTC – coordinated universal time, which is generally GMT. So in the summer, it’s an hour out (so in the above diagram, Twitter usage kicks in a 6am BST, or 5am UTC). So if your Tweets are generally automated to promote content as it goes live, and your content goes live at 8am, you’ll see a spike at 9am.

Things to note:

  • When is traffic at its highest on your website? Shouldn’t your volume of Tweets reflect that?
  • When do you think people should be looking at your website? That’s when you should be Tweeting.

All in all, 15 minutes spent looking at foller.me should enable editors to learn a lot about the way their brands Tweet – and how they should be Tweeting.

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