The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter Social Analytics

Carol Feigenbaum |
 05/17/17 |
7 min read

Creating a viable social strategy depends on receiving accurate data to inform every move. Here’s where to find that data on Twitter.

Why we love Twitter

First, let’s look at what sets Twitter apart from the other social networks out there. The microblog platform is currently fourth for overall monthly users, at 300+ million – behind Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, with approximately 2 billion, 1 billion, and 700 million monthly users respectively. And each of these top four strikes a different chord with users.

While Facebook is a place for sharing more personal stories and information, YouTube rules video, and Instagram is (almost) all about images, Twitter’s focus is on being “the people’s news network” according to their own CEO.The majority of users – 86 percent – come to Twitter for news, and 74% of those do so daily.

Here are some other interesting bits about Twitter’s user base:

  • They’re from everywhere – in fact, 79 percent of accounts are based outside of the US, with Brazil, Japan and Mexico comprising the top three non-US countries
  • They are Millennials – more than any other demographic, with usership decreasing as age increases
  • They’re mobile – 82 percent of users access Twitter via mobile devices, and 90 percent of videos are viewed that way as well
  • They look to Twitter for customer service
  • They visit Twitter to find deals, reviews and more when they shop

There’s a lot for brands to benefit from on Twitter, but SMBs in particular do well there.

Of course, all brands need to know how to interpret the voluminous real-time data coming through Twitter if they’re to make the most of marketing efforts on this channel. Here’s where to find the insights you need.

In Twitter’s analytics dashboard

At the top right of your Twitter profile, click the small round icon of your profile image and choose “Analytics” from the drop-down. Here’s what’s there – and how to make use of it:

28-day summary

Wherever you are in the current month, Twitter provides a snapshot of the previous 28-day period, including how the following metrics have changed in that time:

  • Tweets
  • Tweet impressions
  • Profile visits
  • Mentions
  • Followers

At a glance you can see if your efforts are trending up or down, and look more closely to ascertain the “why” behind either case. Whether you want to continue trending up, or avoid trending further down, you have to understand that “why.”

Monthly tweet highlights

Below the summary you’ll find your Top Tweet and Top Follower. The former tells you which tweet reached the most people (impressions), while the latter reveals which of your newest followers has the most followers of their own.

This person might have influencer potential, or at the very least clearly has an interest in your brand. Be sure to acknowledge and thank them for the follow, and take a look at their tweets to see if there’s something you can engage with to put your brand in front of their audience.

Back at the top of the page, a navigation menu lets you more closely investigate your account’s analytics via Tweets, Audiences, Events and More. Here’s what these areas tell you:


The Tweets tab gives you data about your own tweets for the past week, 28 days, or date range of your choice (up to 91 days). See your Impressions, Engagements, and Engagement Rate (the number of Engagements divided by Impressions) for each tweet you posted. You can also choose to view Top Tweets, Tweets and Replies, or Promoted Tweets alone.

Engagements are defined as interactions with a tweet – or anytime a user clicks anywhere on the tweet, including hashtags, links, avatar, username, tweet expansion, retweets, replies, follows and likes. Click on any tweet in your list to see the details about engagements for that tweet. The action taken tells you a lot.

Clicks on hashtags show an interest in those topics – especially great when using brand-specific hashtags. The same goes for clicks on links in your tweets. Clicking on your brand’s avatar or username means they want to know more about you based on your tweets.

Tweet expansion, retweets and replies mean they’re really invested in what you have to say – but don’t dismiss simple “likes” as worthless. They’re still telling you they like what you have to say. Your job is to figure out why based on all the data on hand. And, of course, if they follow you, they want to hear more.

A 28-day average of Engagements appears along the right side of your tweets.


The Audience tab clues you in to what Twitter users – and your audience in particular – are interested in. The overview shows you the top interest, language, lifestyle type, buying style and wireless carrier for all Twitter, your followers, or your organic audience – i.e., “users who have viewed or engaged with your organic Tweets.”

Compare two audiences to see how the data differs from one to the other.

For example, your followers may be more interested in books, news and general info, but the organic audience you’re reaching is most interested in business and news. If this is your most active segment, it could be beneficial to appeal to them more often in your messaging. It’s hard to know just how to do that without knowing more about them, however.

One way to get to know them is to use personas to assess their interest in certain topics. You need to start with “All Twitter” as your audience, then choose a persona likes Parents, Millennials, Small Businesses, etc. Under Demographics you can specify male, female or all. Then choose your comparison audience to see how your followers, or your organic audience, deviates from the rest of Twitter.

Personas also help you decide what topics to use if you want to appeal to a new audience segment – like male Millennials, female Professionals, etc.

You can also search specifically using dropdowns within Lifestyle, Consumer Behavior, and Mobile Footprint to see how your audience compares to the rest of Twitter with regard to key interests within Twitter’s main interest categories.

For instance, the topic of Business gets broken down into smaller niches like Advertising, Biotech and Biomedical, Business Software, Construction, etc. Consumer Behavior lets you specify things like Dairy Free, Ethnic Explorers, Fresh and Healthy, Gluten Free, and more. You can see what the top interest is for each of these niche segments and go from there.


The events tab is great for staying attuned to major holidays and events you might not even know matter – until you realize social audiences are talking about them. From Mother’s Day to the Billboard Music Awards to Finals Week for college students, you can see what events are gathering conversational steam as they draw nearer.

Click the Events link and choose a specific date, event category, and location for analysis.

Then click on a specific event for even more information.

This is great information to have if you want to plan a campaign to leverage a trending event that appeals to your audience. After all, if they’re talking about something, you should be too.

In addition to the Overview and Events tabs in the navigation menu, you can look specifically at Sports and Movies, as well as Recurring Trends – i.e., hashtags used regularly by users, like #TBT for Throwback Thursday, #MCM for Man Crush Monday, etc.


Under the Twitter Analytics More tab you can check out video views by minutes watched and completed within the Videos section (in beta), or track data for apps you’ve created in App Manager, or follow website conversions using Conversion Tracking. These last two need to be set up to work with your brand’s specific resources, but these are certainly metrics worth staying on top of.

Finally, if you want to really delve into things, export your Tweet Activity (under the Tweets tab) to an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet. There are several formulas you can apply to better understand your Like Rate, Tweet Length vs. Engagement, and Tweet Reach Percentage, among others.

Other places to find Twitter analytics

If you’re using a social scheduling program – which is a good idea, since you need to engage regularly with consumers on your end – there are probably analytics available to you there as well. Social engagement platforms like Hootsuite, Spredfast and Buffer, to name a few, offer such analytics – and combining them with Twitter’s own gives you that much more data to work with.

What these platforms don’t offer, however – and Twitter’s built-in analytics don’t either – is a detailed look at consumer sentiment. Sentiment – the positive and negative of it, and the intensity of both – is a critical metric for broadening your understanding of what drives consumer actions on social and beyond.

And that’s where solutions like NetBase come in.

Social sentiment analysis lets you pinpoint – with laser precision – the topics that matter most to consumers. It helps you divide your audience into multiple segments based on topics they are passionate about, so you know how to enter their conversations authentically, and appeal to them on a human level versus a marketing one.

Even better, sentiment analysis shows you the strength of emotion for varying topics – what we call Passion Intensity – so you know exactly what matters most to consumers. Do they absolutely love your brand, or are they obsessed with one of your competitors? Do they hate your newest marketing campaign? Will they cause trouble for you with a negative post that goes viral?

These are the questions you need answered at all times for optimal brand health, and tracking social sentiment keeps that information at your fingertips.

Additionally, sentiment analysis reveals potential influencers as well as potential detractors – and smartly managing the first can help you stay out of hot water with the second. When problems crop up on social, influencers often go to bat for the brands they love before customer service has the chance to intervene. That’s a serious advantage to have.

And here’s another: customizable alerts based on harmful keywords, so you know at the first sign of trouble if a crisis is brewing.

Ultimately, there are a lot of options for brands looking for Twitter and other social analytics to inform their strategies. Some are easier to manage and understand than others, and some are more limited than others with regard to the data they can produce. What you choose comes down to brand goals, budget, and available manpower to sift through the data once it’s collected.

Ideally, you want comprehensive analytics, with customizable, visual dashboards that can be interpreted at a glance by anyone who needs the intel. But as long as you’re paying attention to social analytics in some way, you’re on the right track. And if we can help, just let us know.

Ready to take your Twitter analytics to the next level? Ask us for a customized demo of our sentiment analysis tools.

Image from Uncalno Tekno


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