Are you secretly wondering if Twitter is worth using to promote your business?
Yep, I have been.
As a small business owner or blogger, there’s only so many different social media platforms you can dedicate yourself to working hard on using. For every platform, there’s people saying how much they’re “smashing it” with huge success stories if you only follow their step-by-step approach…
Perhaps you’ve been using Twitter for a while to share content you’re creating, network with others in your field and to respond to queries. Maybe you’re embarrassed at how sporadic you’re tweeting, or are exhausted from endlessly tweeting.
If you’re looking ahead to 2016 and thinking about your strategy for using Twitter, have you ever stopped and really examined your ROI to see if it’s worth continuing with using it?
It’s easy to get lost in a sea of figures and charts about how many new followers, retweets, likes and expands, profile views and clicks you’ve had from Twitter’s own analytics. You may be using Google Analytics to track social sessions via Twitter too. There’s all sorts of fancy dashboard tools you can use too like Dasharoo which mashes up your Twitter stats and Google Analytics, but are they really showing you what you need to know to determine if Twitter is a good business investment?
To help answer this question, I first made a list of different statistics I could measure to really start objectively looking at how good Twitter was for my business. These could be measured week-by-week or month-by-month. I’m going to be tracking mine month-by-month.
What to measure:
I started by reading a lot of articles and they were so full of talk, talk, talk and very little in the way of real hard numbers. It was a little disappointing. Oh, no-one had their own figures in there as examples!
So, here’s what I came up with…
- Money spent on promoted tweets
- Money spent on social media tools (e.g. Buffer, Hootsuite, Ask Edgar)
- Time spent creating tweets (including any associated images)
- Time spent replying to tweets
- Other time spent on Twitter (for business purposes)
To get a good handle on costs, it’s essential to track and factor in the time spent on Twitter. It’s too easy to underestimate the amount of time spent on social media!
Use Harvest Time Tracker: get a $10 account credit if you use this link. I’m going to be doing this properly for social media starting January 1.
- Number of tweets
- Number of tweets linking directly to website
- Percentage of tweets linking directly to website
To find your number of tweets, use your Twitter Analytics page.
To find the number of tweets linking directly to your website, I counted back through my tweets. In future, I could count these as I go – especially if I primarily and systematically use an automated social media system like Buffer, Hootsuite or Meet Edgar.
Calculate the percentage of tweets linking directly to website by taking number of tweets linking directly to your website / number of tweets x 100%.
- Net number of new followers (i.e. takes into account any loss of followers)
- Percentage follower growth
- Number of website sessions via Twitter
- Number of leads
- Percentage of sessions which become leads (for cre8d this means filling in design survey form, contact form or subscription form on the site but excludes any direct contact which would need to be done by me asking someone how they found us)
- Percentage of sessions which become sales
- Total sales value
Your Twitter Analytics page will give you net number of new followers each month. Write down your current number of followers, and subtract back through the figures Twitter gives you for your follower increase each month to get the number of followers you have each month. Then calculate the percentage follower growth by doing this math: (this month – last month)/last month x 100%.
The number of website sessions via Twitter is calculated on Google Analytics by going to Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals and looking at the Twitter line. Make sure you have set up the report to show the month of interest.
To calculate the number and percentage of sessions which become leads, you need to first set up conversion goals for each of the forms on your site in Google Analytics. To set up a goal in Google Analytics, go to Admin > Goals > New Goal. I use their “Sign up” option and enter in the thank you page for the forms.
Once those goals are all set up, then go to Acquisition > Social > Conversions and then look at the Twitter line to get the number and percentages
Then, to calculate the percentage of sessions which become sales, I would record all sales (i.e. web design clients) in a spreadsheet (or CRM such as Nimble) and track back where they came from. This one is more manual for us as we do invoicing separately to our website, but could be completely automated if you are selling products on your website.
This summary does not of course include brand awareness, relationship building and networking which are hard to measure numerically.
For each dollar (or hour if you prefer) put into Twitter, what did you get back in return? Divide your net new followers, website sessions, leads and sales each by the total cost.
Example: My November 2015 Twitter ROI
Doing this exercise for myself for November 2015 was really insightful. I’m going to start tracking them each month and make decisions based on them.
Here are my figures…
- $0 spent on promoted tweets
- $0 spent on social media tools
- Unknown time spent creating tweets
- Unknown time spent replying to tweets
- Unknown other time spent on Twitter
Reflection: I need to track time spent on Twitter! Let me completely guess as a starting point that I spent 10 hours on Twitter in the month for business purposes purely for this exercise.
- 244 tweets
- 7 tweets linking directly to website
- 2.9% tweets linking directly to website
Reflection: This really surprised me. I thought I was tweeting a lot about content on my website but I wasn’t! I was worried about annoying people by posting my own links too much. Tweets have a few short lifespan, I don’t think I should worry so much about this. Being an introvert, seeing these numbers helped made me realise I am not overdoing it!
I did decide to be strategic about my use of Twitter in November though – I wanted to tweet more things which were relevant to potential clients on blog design, food blog design, WordPress and improving web design through data and strategy. I chose to stop tweeting about random topics which came into my mind at the time. I did continue to reply to friends though, and posted some personal bits and pieces which I thought were of interest to people – plus I did not want to come across in any way as a spammer of my own content!
I also looked for tweets which worked significantly better than others to get people to website. Two in particular stood out with many more clicks than the rest (18 and 17 clicks respectively), and both were for the same blog post:
— Rachel Cunliffe (@cre8d) November 24, 2015
Be a better food blogger: https://t.co/EI2wLVhyxE
— Rachel Cunliffe (@cre8d) November 26, 2015
- 88 net new followers
- 5.3% follower growth
- 112 website sessions via Twitter
- 6% became leads (i.e. 7 leads)
- 0% became sales (so far)
- $0 in sales
Seeing these figures makes me wonder what “good” figures are. It makes me want to see what my figures are going to be for December, January etc: what the trend will be.
Everyone talks about reach, engagement, conversion and other words, but how many people are really measuring their ROI and are brave to say “this isn’t working” or “these are the figures I’d need to make it a worthwhile investment”?
It would be amazing to see other people publishing their Twitter figures for comparison, rather than only publishing income reports.
I’ve seen a lot of scepticism about how good Twitter is, or how good promoted tweets are. It’s easy to say simply “you’re not doing it right” if you don’t see amazing results. It’s trendy to say “what I did worked!” but it’s far better to say: here’s the figures for what I did.
For each hour I put into Twitter that month, I gained:
- 8.8 net new followers
- 11.2 website sessions via Twitter
- 0.7 leads
- $0 in sales
Is this good ROI? What is good ROI? What figures make it a worthwhile investment? If I truly believe Twitter is a worthwhile place to promote my business, how do I do a better job at it? Objectively measuring the results is the first place to start. Documenting experiments to try and improve things is the next.
I want to track this for three more months and see what’s going on before making a decision on what I do in the future.
I want to use time tracking to ensure I know the input more clearly, and I may try using a social media marketing tool more seriously (I’ve dabbled with Buffer, but not used it consistently).
I want to track headlines which get decent clicks versus ones which don’t. There are so many interacting factors such as the time of day, hashtags, keywords, images, headline writing tricks that it can really do your head in trying to figure out what is working and what is not.
Ultimately, the decision becomes much clearer by tracking this input/output/return data to help see if it is worth the investment.
The tricky question to answer is “how do you know when to quit versus when to keep going”?
There’s a whole lot of expectation for companies to be active on Twitter, but if your time could be better invested elsewhere, then I want to be efficient about my time I have, and spend it on things which have better ROI.
This is the stuff I love doing: use data to make practical decisions to improve efficient and grow businesses.
I’m so not a fan of all the hype that’s out there. You know the type: “if you only follow my method you too can have amazing success!” I’d love to see far more data analysis of people using their methods. If you give my worksheet a go, please let me know what kind of ROI you are seeing!
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