If you’ve read any of my posts on unique social media metrics, Facebook reach, or Google Analytics, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a bit of a data junkie. I love to pour over numbers and figures, draw conclusions about peaks and valleys, and monitor the overall performance of a client’s (and my own) brand, social engagement, and advertising campaigns. Facebook‘s numbers are vast and extremely insightful, the only downside being the limitation on how far you can go back. It’s ridiculous that Google offers every business Analytics for free, it’s far and beyond the best and most comprehensive tool on the market. LinkedIn offers statistics not only to their businesses or their advertisers, but even to the everyday user; things like how many times your name appeared in a search, how many profile views you’ve received, and who has been reading your profile are all available to users for free.
Pop “twitter analytics” into a quick Google search and see what you find: an article on the Twitter developer’s blog announcing the release of Twitter web analytics for a small sample of users to be rolled out to every user “within the next few weeks”. There’s only one problem… it’s dated September 13, 2011. I understand that sometimes projects take longer than expected, but this has allegedly been almost ready for nearly a year and a half– where are they?! Let’s take a look at some other factors in this mind-boggling puzzle:
– Advertiser Analytics: In researching for this article, I stumbled upon this very promising-looking site. A URL for analytics.twitter.com– and a site called “Sign in- Twitter Analytics”! But alas, “Twitter Analytics” is really a misnomer; it should more accurately be called “Twitter Advertiser Dashboard”. It’s a ruse to get users to sign up for Promoted Tweets and Accounts in exchange for some data. What if I don’t care what my average CPC is or how many followers I’ve received as a result of my Promoted Trend? I just want to see change in followers, cumulative reach of tweets, clicks on links, basic figures that apply to all tweets and should be available for free to all users. In order to see the change in my follower count, I have to pay for advertising? Unless I get my data from somewhere else…
– Third Party Apps: The market is absolutely flooded with sites claiming to monitor your Twitter performance: Hootsuite, Buffer, Twitcount, Twitalyzer, Followerwonk,the list goes on, all using some combination of free and paid models to compile and analyze different variations of Twitter data for you. But there’s two problems with this method. 1) The information is not always accurate or reliable, especially because they only have access to the same resources the rest of us do. 2) Twitter is still continuously cutting off third-party applications in an effort to drive more traffic to Twitter and its proprietary applications. But if Twitter won’t give us access to the information we need, why are they so angry about us going elsewhere to get it? An excellent question, which brings us to the final point.
– Social Media IPOs: LinkedIn, Zynga, Facebook, Groupon, Pandora, and countless others have already begun trading on the open market and are finding their footing. The clock continues to tick on Twitter’s IPO. They know it and the world knows it. Here’s where it all comes together:
- In order to make a good public showing, Twitter needs revenue.
- Revenue comes from advertisers (unless you’re LinkedIn, but that’s a post for another time)
- Advertisers want to see traffic to know that their dollars are being well-spent and their message is reaching a lot of people.
- Twitter is trying to grow their number of advertisers by forcing anyone with a vested interest in data (me, and the rest of the social media professionals in the world) to advertise before they get access to those numbers.
- Subsequently, they’re trying to increase their traffic for those advertisers by killing third-party apps, forcing people to use proprietary Twitter applications, and annoying a lot of their very loyal users and prospective partners in the process.
HERE’S WHAT TWITTER IS MISSING: They’re approaching the problem backwards. Just like everyone’s favorite Field of Dreams quote says, “If you build it, [they] will come.” If Twitter would give its users free access to the best and most comprehensive insights around, its traffic will skyrocket from people pouring through the numbers and analyzing their performance on a daily, maybe hourly, basis. Once the traffic is through the roof, everyone will want to advertise. And once everyone wants to advertise, Twitter won’t have a problem making a decent showing when it files for an IPO. So I’ll ask once more with the hopes that they finally put their USERS FIRST and trust that it will point them in the right direction: