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Social Media Marketing for Business

Dennis Yu


February 19, 2013

One Critical Stat You Cannot Get From Twitter

February 19, 2013 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

On Twitter, there is actually no such thing as an impression.
Not only is it not provided, but even twitter themselves doesn’t know if someone saw the tweet.

There are so many 3rd party tools for posting and reading that there’s no way for them to know.
And then there are the issues of fake twitter users, but that’s another story.

So the industry workaround here is to assume all followers saw the message.

Thus, the total number of impressions on twitter is tracked as the number of tweets (x) the follower count at the time of the tweet.

Social analytics providers like us reluctantly report impressions, so we can sum impressions across Facebook, Google, and so forth.

one critical twitter stat

Impressions alone are a silly metric, just like fans.

If you’re a community manager, you can inflate your twitter impression number just by tweeting a LOT.
One client of ours, who will go unnamed, was behind on their traffic goals. So in December, they tweeted 25 times a day.

Lo and behold, they exceeded their annual target and got performance bonuses based on it.

Any time you focus on just one metric, you set yourself up to be gamed.
There is ALWAYS a counterbalancing metric– if you don’t know it, you’re bleeding somewhere you don’t see.
CTR balances against average position. Conversion rates balance against revenue per conversion. And so forth.

But back to Twitter– how do we measure success if impressions is a bogus metric?
Make up an arbitrary multiplier, such as assuming 20% of followers saw the message? Heck no.
You’re stacking garbage on garbage. Some brands will grab the followers of folks who retweet, which further enhances the impression number.

Instead, look at total interactions– tweets, retweets, and mentions, using your campaign hashtag or not.

Now you have something closer to apples-to-apples with Facebook and YouTube.
You can compare total interactions on Facebook (likes, posts, comments, comment likes, shares) against total twitter interactions and YouTube likes/comments.
Same for Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, or whatever channels your audience is on.

You still won’t know how many of these users are real, but at least you have a real sense of how effective your efforts are.
As someone once said, the true sign of leadership is looking behind you to see how many people are following you.

I’m sure he didn’t mean twitter followers…



Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company which partners with schools to train young adults.

Dennis’s program centers around mentorship, helping students grow their expertise to manage social campaigns for enterprise clients like the Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone.

He’s an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing and has spoken in 17 countries, spanning 5 continents, including keynotes at L2E, Gultaggen, and Marketo Summit.

Dennis has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News, CBS Evening News and is co-author of Facebook Nation – a textbook taught in over 700 colleges and universities.

He’s a regular contributor for Adweek’s SocialTimes column and has published in Social Media Examiner, Social Media Club, Tweak Your Biz, B2C, Social Fresh, and Heyo.

He held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines and studied Finance and Economics at Southern Methodist University as well as London School of Economics. He ran collegiate cross-country at SMU and has competed in over 20 marathons including a 70 mile ultramarathon.

Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you.

You can contact him at, his blog, or on Facebook.