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Look to Twitter for a treasure trove of data to enhance your business

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Look to Twitter for a treasure trove of data to enhance your business

Signing up to use Twitter is one thing. Sending a tweet is another baby step. But using the social media network to draw attention to your business, engage with your customers and ultimately measure your results is another thing altogether. It might sound frightening and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

Spencer Carruthers owns Kenwood Tire Co. Inc. in West Bridgewater, Mass., a one store, three-bay tire dealership. He manages his business’ social media accounts and says it gives him a good picture of his business, and his customers.

“It gives me some good insight. You get a good demographic of who’s looking at your site,” Carruthers says, noting he’d be dead wrong if he thought gearhead guys were the only ones watching. More than half of his followers are women. “I just throw a lot of stuff against the wall and see what works.”

That might not sound scientific, but it’s exactly what Twitter experts like Arfa Syed suggest. Syed is the digital and social media manager at the Auto Care Association, and she wants others to share Carruthers’ give-it-a-try mentality.

“Twitter has one of the most user-friendly, back-end analytics and ads platforms,” Syed says. “Being socially connected to your customers in real time becomes easier and seamless.”

Yes, there are tools you can install and professional social media firms you can pay to measure your reach on any platform. Twitter, however, has its own free, easy-to-use page to see the numbers. Go to analytics.twitter.com and log in with your Twitter user name and password. Look for the menu across the top of the page. The first three menu options (home, tweets and followers) are full of tons of data to get started. Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll find.

On the home screen, Twitter gives you a snapshot for each month. It highlights your top tweet – the one seen by the most people, your top mention – the most popular tweet that mentions your Twitter handle (Modern Tire Dealer’s is @mtdmagazine), your top follower – the most popular account that follows you, and finally your top media tweet, which is your most popular tweet that features a photo. The monthly report also features a summary of the number of tweets sent, the number of times your Twitter profile was visited and the number of new followers you picked up that month. Plus, it tallies the reach of every tweet you sent (and calls it tweet impressions) and counts how many times your handle was mentioned by others.

With that data alone you can set goals: goals to increase how often you tweet and to attract new followers. Plus with several months, or years, worth of data, you can scroll back in time to see your progress.

Now, going back to the main menu at the top of the page, the tweets screen gives you even more data – for every single message. The bar graph shows four weeks of tweets and their collective impressions, which is Twitter’s word for views. If the graph shows lots of peaks and valleys, it means you aren’t achieving consistency. Below the graph is an analysis for every tweet, one message at a time. Click on the ‘view tweet details’ to see even more – how many clicked on a link, retweeted or favorited the message, expanded the details or shared it via email.

Syed likes another option on that screen. “You have the ability to export data to keep track of any campaigns.”

And, to determine what kind of people are following your Twitter account, click on the followers screen from the main menu. The audience insights page and its submenus show everything from gender and general interests to the state where your followers live and what kinds of television shows they like to watch. An added benefit is you can look at all of those stats, and more, for the Twitter universe as a whole, and then compare the big picture to your followers.

This is all more than just random information, Syed says. “This is invaluable as you tailor your content to be most meaningful.”

And remember, this is all the free stuff.

If you want to “pay to play,” as Syed calls it — or buy advertising on Twitter — there’s another world of help available. She suggests visiting ads.twitter.com, a platform that walks you step-by-step from goals to execution of an advertising campaign.

“Twitter offers free ad credits occasionally to start, and has ads experts that are willing to hop on the phone with you once you show interest.”   ■

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