The first step in perfecting the art of Twitter is to make sure to share the most topical and genuinely informative tweets. Maybe that’s you already, and the feedback is great. But are you really enhancing your reputation with the target audience? Are your competitors tweeting even better? Twitter isn’t a private bubble, it’s a fish bowl. We’re on display, so we need to know how we’re doing.

There are plenty of analytics tools to gauge the value of social media efforts, but with so many options finding the best one for your brand is daunting. What’s the set industry standard for success? There isn’t one. We’re on our own in judging key measurements like engagement rate. We’re both the product and test laboratory.

Download PDF version of this issue: #businessfortwitter from PR pros

OWC advocates the following tactics, which we work hard to apply to our own Twitter account, @owcpr.

  • Get comfortable with numbers. Tweeting just 10-12 times each week can be outreach enough, but the effort isn’t worthwhile if nobody communicates back to your brand. Twitter Analytics is a free tool that offers basic tracking to start measuring your audience. It tells you what you’re doing well and instantly identifies the duds.
  • Know the facts. Engagement rate is the metric that matters to social media managers and enthusiasts alike. While some analysts argue for a benchmark of 1-3 percent engagement rate per post, the reality is that there is no industry standard. Competing tools use entirely different formulas to calculate rates, which makes comparisons difficult. The simple fact is: we want engagement. If we’re not getting it, something needs to change.
  • Take charge. With no set standards, the right tool for the right objective is up to us. Taking on the challenge is the first step towards finding the right metrics for your brand. Research the analytics tools – each has its benefits and quirks. At OWC we use Simply Measured for a more detailed look at engagement. We’re also trying out Sprout Social, a lower-cost alternative that uses mainly replies, likes, mentions, re-tweets, detail expands and hashtag clicks to come up with a basic engagement rate.
  • Play smart. Keywords are social media gold. You can use them again and again. Which keywords get a reaction from your audience? Analytics will tell you. Monitor industry insiders and experts and compare your performance to theirs. Copy their success. You already know that tweets with a link and a visual element outperform all other tweets. As you weave in pictures, videos and animated GIFs, check the engagement rate. Do more of what works. Do less of what doesn’t. Always do something.

Social media for organizations is about connecting, defining and analyzing how your brand presents itself. We want to grow and engage. We want more followers, more responses, more recognition, more action. Tweets should be the sharpest tool in your daily communications kit. Finding the right analytics program – and using it – will sharpen your Twitter approach to a fine edge.