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Meaningful Metrics on Twitter – Why They Matter

Aditi Raghavan

What is a ‘Meaningful Metric’ ?

At some point in recent time, the genus of Social Media and Statistical Ninjas everywhere began to wonder about ‘meaning’ – the meaning of data, the meaning of “likes” and “retweets”… And the meaning of metrics. As early as September 2012, Evan Williams (Former CEO and Co-founder, Twitter) expressed just such a yearning – to provide metrics to users that make sense, where the greatest takeaway is not just a clinical “count” but a piquant piece of insight.

Yet, we thus far know very little about what constructing a meaningful metric entails. Is it the way we slice our data? Is it in our permutations and combinations of data points? Keep in mind, the goal of coming up with a meaningful metric isn’t to deduce a revolutionary new measure. Rather, it is to embed our numbers with intelligence.

At Unmetric, we have been busy at work revamping our Twitter Platform. Guided by user feedback, unique data and developments in the social media space – we will soon launch an incredible augmentation to the Unmetric platform. In its new avatar, the Twitter platform will provide a lot more insight through hashtag analysis, customer service metrics and data on key influencers of a brand. Throughout the development process, however, one of our most valuable internal conversations revolved around the Twitter Engagement Score.

In popularity alone, Engagement is a key metric – marketers, social media enthusiasts, tech honchos everywhere – recognize engagement as a valuable measure of how well a brand and its content relate to their audience on the interwebs. However, coming up with the Twitter Engagement Score was not as simple as replicating our formulas over on the Facebook side of things. The Reason: we had to think through the meaning of the Twitter Engagement Score. And this is where things got interesting.

Meaning Varies by Social Network

Twitter is not Facebook. Sure, you know that – everybody knows that! But, what does that actually boil down to in the meaning of common metrics like Reach, for instance, that play a role in the engagement score? Assuming the fan/followers count as a placeholder for Reach (how many people could potentially have seen a post/tweet) – is not good enough. This is because Reach on Facebook, owing to the EdgeRank algorithm and the newsfeed, remains an estimate – a minor percentage of a brand’s fans and then some.

On Twitter, there is no Edge Rank algorithm. Every follower of a Brand’s Twitter account could potentially see the Tweet. And if they Retweet? Their followers see it too! All of these individuals add to the potential reach of a Tweet. To calculate our Twitter Engagement Score, we had to take into account many crucial differences at the level of the platform before we delved deeper.

 

Quantifying meaning as numbers

What is the value of a Retweet? We have often seen variations of this question posed over Facebook Likes and Shares. Indeed, Brands have acknowledged that they value shares over likes. Similarly, on Twitter, a Retweet signifies many different things – word of mouth, endorsement, paying it forward, viral behavior etcetera – to all of user’s followers. At Unmetric, we find the idea of weights as a useful concept to quantify the value or significance of a Retweet or favourite or reply.

In general terms, weights refer to the depth associated with an idea. More practically in view of metrics, weights become the strength with which a particular value/number influences a resulting derived metric. In our development, we first sought to understand the meaning of favorites, replies and retweets as they operate in the Twittersphere. We then, finally, deduce the Twitter Engagement Score. Our understanding elevates our score from a mere number to an accurate reflection of how much people value a brand’s content.

These are but a few of the investigations that continue on at Unmetric – as we hurtle towards the launch of our revamped Twitter platform. In the meantime, We’d love your thoughts, comments and feedback or do check out the Unmetric Platform – Sign up for a free trial here.