There’s been a lot of talk about “followers” and “friends” and “likes” in social media. I agree that the size of one’s audience matters, but there are other numbers that are arguably better measures of impact and overall strength of one’s Twitter feed.
I took over the account @HarperCollins about six months ago out of curiosity—I was skeptical about the use of Twitter and its potential to have an impact on book sales. Is it all just more noise or can it actually move the needle when it comes to revenue? With some meticulous tracking, I’ve seen interesting results.
A few essentials:
Number of clicks on your links
When someone clicks on your link, that’s evidence of interest in your content. Your daily click totals are helpful in understanding the overall “health” of your feed, while knowing which of your Tweets garners the most clicks may help you to craft future messages.
Number of retweets
When someone shares your content—even in the context of an opposing opinion—that’s more measurable engagement, as your “handle” and your words go beyond your own subscribers.
Number of messages, mentions, and replies
When someone includes your @ name in a post, they either want your attention (like a cc:) or they want to speak with you directly. Not only is this an opportunity to connect with people and discover more content, it’s a sign that you’re a player.
Size of your engaged audience
All the above (and more) factor into what Klout and other social measurement companies use to help us understand the “quality” of Twitter accounts. If your own following has a good level of influence over their followers, your messages have the potential to be amplified far beyond your own shores.
Using Twitter effectively doesn’t have to take hours and hours. You can take advantage of free tools (see above) that enable you to schedule your messages throughout the day, and with the ubiquity of smartphones, checking in every now and then is easy to do.
Follow Friday and Worth Watching
The hashtags #FF and #WW are great ways to give props to Twitter feeds you value. Keep your eye on the frequency of your account being mentioned in these posts. (A “hashtag” in Twitterland is a way to mark or categorize a message; “Follow Friday” and “Worth Watching” are popular ones that users employ to suggest accounts they think are worthy of following.)
Growth of your audience
As the Twittersphere matures, the progressive acquisition of new active followers should be part of your strategy. It is best when done without gimmicks. If people like your posts, they will let you know by adding your account to their streams. If you’re not seeing new followers on a daily basis, you might need to experiment with your content (tone, subject, focus, timing).
HarperCollins has great respect for data. We’ve developed various ways to mash it all up to better understand results and trends. I can’t say that all the Tweets from all of our official imprints and corporate accounts have placed any books on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list, or moved 10,000 units of a title into the hands of eager readers singlehandedly, but we have absolutely seen a lift when specific Tweets are mapped against sales of specific titles in a specific time frame.
Beyond all the numbers, there are other benefits:
l Having the ability to hand-sell books, where face time with individual consumers, retailers, librarians, and reviewers would not otherwise be possible.
l Increased communication with readers and opportunity to cultivate relationships.
l Connection with industry peers, sharing our collective love of books and reading, supporting literacy, and increasing interest and relevance of books
Remember that having an audience of 100,000 who rarely click on your links may not be as valuable as a following of 10,000 highly engaged people. This will, in turn, widen your reach organically and genuinely—which can broaden awareness of your “brand” and sell more books. And you might even have some fun.
Julie Blattberg is the director of content strategy and author services at HarperCollins.