Wednesday 22 August 2012

Sweating the Assets – Making the most of what you’ve got with Twitter

As mentioned in previous posts, Twitter is a great way to get your message out to a wide audience but its quick moving nature means your message will probably not be seen by the vast majority who follow you.  Using examples from a number of major websites, in this (and subsequent) blogs I’ll show how most have plenty of scope to make more of what they have.

Bitly is one of the most used URL shortening services and one great feature it has is the ability for anyone to be able to track the performance of a link simply by adding a ‘+’ to that link.  You don’t get the full functionality that you would have if it was your Bitly link but there’s more than enough to get a feel for how a link is performing.

As with any business where their product is content based, The Times are trying to make the most of monetising their product.  Where most go for an ad-funded model, the Times have set up a Paywall to make their online content subscriber-only.

Presumably as a means of quantifying the kind of volume of visitors they could reach and/or to show potential readers what they are missing out on (and encourage to subscribe), they have recently started 1 hour ‘freeviews’ of particular content.

An example of this was an article about Joe Cole and Liverpool that was made free to view between 12pm and 1pm on Tue 21st August.  The chart below shows the click figures during this hour for a link to the piece tweeted by journalist who wrote the article - Tony Barrett @tonybarrettimes (92k followers):

Tweets from @tonybarrettimes regarding the article
Clicks by Minute between 12:00-12:59pm
This second post was retweeted at 12:15pm by Phil McNulty @philmcnulty who is the Chief Football Writer for the BBC Sports Website (160k followers) and 12:16pm by Oliver Kay @oliverkaytimes who is the Chief Football Correspondent for The Times (147k followers).

Other people of note such as Rory Smith @rorysmithtimes (56k followers) mention the article via Twitter but put a direct link to the Times website URL (fine for them for their back end analysis using a tool such as Google Analytics but won’t show up on the Bitly chart above).

From the figures above there are a few points worth making:
  • It may not be the most important marketing channel, but Twitter can deliver a sizeable audience within a short space of time
  • The retweets from Tony’s followers (especially from well-followed accounts) is vital to the overall click volume
  • By using the same Bitly link, it’s not possible to separate out the impact of Tony’s two tweets at 10:56am and 12:11pm (the latter is likely to have driven the vast majority but we can’t be sure)
  • There was scope from around 12:30pm onwards for another push of the message from Tony’s feed anyone logging in to Twitter around then would probably have missed any previous mention of the link
  • If you had a number of Times journalist tweeting the link every 5 minutes or so (e.g., 12 journalists tweet the link once each over the hour), would that be classed as good marketing or would it be felt that goes against the organic, free-for-all ‘spirit’ of Twitter.  Nobody likes the feeling they’re being marketed to, even though the truth is you are most of the time

Dan Barnett

Director of Analytics