Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Does anyone actually see your tweets?

Twitter has updated its Twitter Analytics and opened it to everyone (go here and see what your tweets have been up to

It previously used to look like this, and it now gives you information on the number of people who've apparently seen the tweet, the number of people who've clicked on it to see it in full and the number of people who've interacted with it (favourited, replied, followed you etc - there's a list of the available metric options at the end).

For the last few years I've shared all my Blogger and Google Analytics info for this particular blog (Blogger overestimates things threefold so while it says on the right that this blog has had 1.4m views at time of writing, assume it's one third of that!) and I thought curious people might like to know what my tweet's have been up to.

Here's some sort of overview (screencaptured from a couple of weeks ago).

Tweets that are posted when lots of people are online will obviously be seen more than tweets that are posted when fewer people are online (eg 3.15am on a Tuesday morning) but tweets posted at a 'busy' time may have to compete with other fascinating tweets.

The new analytics hasn't really told me anything I didn't already know. For me (and it may be different for others of course) posting a link on Twitter to this blog results in relatively few hits - over 80% (probably 90%) of my traffic comes from Google searches. One way around that of course (and one of several methods used by better and more popular bloggers) is to repost the same link throughout the day while slightly varying the 'wrapper' tweet that accompanies it. Remember that someone might not see your tweet from 10 minutes ago but might see the one you post now. Another good way of re-promoting your link is to acknowledge that you're doing this by saying "for the afternoon crowd" or "in case you missed it" (aka ICYMI).

According to Twitter analytics each of my tweets is seen by between roughly 180 and 350 people at any average time, typically about 250 see them - there's a huge variance as you can see below. There are some outliers that become very popular (into the thousands and several thousands) and some that are less so. Clearly if a tweet is retweeted this increases its number - but it's important to remember that the figure for a tweet's views are always going to be much lower than the number of people that follow you because they won't always be online at the same time.

(Note picture below is not a continuous run of tweets but a selection)

Above and below are a couple of edited screenshots showing some popular tweets and some less popular tweets. In each case the number of people who see it is always more than the number of people who do anything with it (in some case no-one clicks on a link, *tiny violins*).

I am extremely pleased to see that the guidance for people wanting to report misleading homeopathy websites did reasonably well with over 200 'engagements', although poor old 'pet dinosaur' which only had 28 views. The FoodBabe tweet was retweeted by a few others so is about three to four times more popular than my other tweets.  

The following are fairly typical...

Sometimes a tweet's "success" surprises me, in both directions, for example I can't understand why the one below has had over 3,500 views - it was retweeted a couple of times but it's fairly niche. I suppose it was published on a Tuesday afternoon so possibly a lot of people are online then!

Similarly this next one took me by surprise - it was retweeted 12 times (what?!) and over 600 people clicked on the photo. There's not even an informative link from which to find out more information, I'd have expected this one to be pretty minor.

I sent what I thought was a better tweet, with a proper link, but it wasn't nearly as viewed as the one from the day before. I suppose the main difference is that the first one I sent was 'first', but also quirkier than the second slightly duller and more factual one. It might have done even worse had I not hashtagged it pretty well.

If I send a tweet to another person (tweets which start with the @-mention format, so they are sent to someone rather than just ccing them into a tweet) this means the number of people who see the tweet drops considerably.  

The number of views can be as low as 7 but tend to be around 30 to 50. This is because only the people who follow both me and the person I'm talking to will see it (unless someone looks at my profile, or searches the other person's mentions). I did once send a tweet to a well-known singer ("haha" I said) and that got over 900 views but I certainly can't take any credit for that.

I suppose if you want to send a tweet to someone but want to make sure it's seen by others it's a good idea to use the .@ format (where you 'break' the To function of the unadorned @ at the start of a message) or just be more popular on Twitter than me and the people I talk to ;-)

Now of course I shall share this post on Twitter (on a Sunday morning as well - no-one will see it, haha) but I wonder if you'll have come across it via another route... and if you want to tell me please do so in the comments, thanks :)

Further reading
  • Twitter's experimenting with showing how many people saw your tweets (21 March 2014) The Verge
  • (Almost) no-one is reading your tweets (13 December 2013) AllThingsD
    That post is not about Twitter analytics but the fact that the 'average' Twitter account has 61 followers so - for most people on Twitter - hardly anyone is paying attention. When you sign up to Twitter as a new user it seems to encourage you to follow celebrities, who often tend to broadcast rather than engage, and brands (who do engage a bit more) so it might be giving people a rather strange overview of the service:
"Twitter’s official messaging still promotes the idea that you, ordinary you, can find your voice on Twitter — its newly tweaked welcome screen invites new users to “start a conversation.” But Twitter’s business plan — based on its “asymmetric follow model” — assumes that you and Twitter’s other 230 million users will spend almost all of your time reading about the conversation, not leading it.

Check out Twitter’s onboarding sequence for new users, for instance, which is dedicated to helping you “find and follow well-known people.” (Twitter seems particularly interested, by the way, in helping you find Neil Patrick Harris.)" 

Below are the 'key metrics' that Twitter analytics offers everyone - you can see these when you click on the tweet on the analytics page.

Number of times users saw the Tweet on Twitter

Embedded media clicks
Clicks to view a photo or video in the Tweet

Detail expands
Number of times users clicked on the Tweet to view more details

Link clicks
Clicks on a URL or Card in the Tweet

User profile clicks
Clicks on the name, @handle, or profile photo of the Tweet author

Number of times users retweeted the Tweet to their followers

Number of times users favorited the Tweet

Hashtag clicks
Clicks on hashtag(s) in the Tweet

Number of replies to the Tweet

Number of times users followed you directly from the Tweet

Permalink clicks
Clicks on the Tweet permalink (desktop only)

Shared via email
Number of times users emailed the Tweet to someone

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).