When it comes to Twitter marketing, one of the key metrics brands measure is engagement. If people aren’t retweeting, liking or clicking your Tweets, there’s a good chance your message is falling on deaf ears. Tweeting without any engagement is like shouting your thoughts to an empty room.
While it’s true that engagement is extremely important, there’s another metric that goes hand in hand with it. Before people can interact with your Tweets, they need to see them on their feed. In order to figure out how many people are seeing your Tweets, you need to track Twitter impressions.
What Are Twitter Impressions?
Twitter impressions are the number of times a user is served a Tweet in their timeline or search results. Every time a user sees your Tweet, it counts as an impression.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you sent out a Tweet to promote a new blog post about gardening tips, and it was seen by three different people:
- User No. 1 follows you and saw the Tweet in their timeline. They also Retweeted it.
- User No. 2 follows user No. 1, so they saw the Retweet in their feed.
- User No. 3 searched “gardening tips” on Twitter and your Tweet popped up in the results.
Each scenario counts as an impression, for a total of three.
Keep in mind that an impression doesn’t mean a user clicked on your Tweet or took any action. It simply represents the number of times your Tweet showed up in someone’s feed or search results, even if they just scrolled past.
Twitter Impressions vs. Reach
If you’ve used Sprout Social, you may notice that our Sent Messages report has a metric called reach, rather than impressions. Reach is not the same as impressions.
Reach is the total number of users that may have seen your Tweet. It’s the sum of your followers and the number of followers of anyone that Retweets you.
If you send a Tweet and have 100 followers, your reach would be 100. But if that message is Retweeted by a user with 200 followers, the reach would jump to 300 (your 100 followers plus their 200).
It may seem like impressions are superior or more accurate than reach, but that’s not the case. The number of impressions displayed in Twitter Analytics only counts Tweets that appear within Twitter’s desktop or mobile app. So if a person saw your Tweet through a third party social media dashboard like Sprout Social, Twitter doesn’t count it.
That means the impressions you see on Twitter could be underreported. That’s when reach comes in handy. Think of impressions as the minimum amount of people that may have seen your Tweet, and reach as the maximum.
By looking at both reach and impressions, you’ll have a clearer picture of how many people actually saw your Tweet. Get a free 30 day trial of Sprout Social to measure the performance of your Tweets, including reach.
How to Get More Impressions
As you can imagine, increasing impressions is important because it means your Tweets are more visible. On a platform as noisy as Twitter, you have to work hard to stand out and get people to notice your content.
Here are some suggestions to help you along the way.
Tweet at the Right Time
The easiest way to ensure your Tweets are getting impressions is to Tweet when your followers are most active.
Tweets are displayed in reverse chronological order. Let’s say you sent out Tweets in the afternoon, but most of your followers don’t check their feeds until the evening. Unless they scroll down and stumble across your older Tweets, there’s a good chance you content won’t be seen.
To combat this, learn when your followers are most likely to be on Twitter and schedule your Tweets around those times. Manually trying to figure out the best time to Tweet requires spending a lot of time digging through past messages, organizing it and then attempting to analyze all the data. There’s a much easier solution.
With Sprout’s ViralPost feature, you can set your Tweets to automatically be sent out when your audience is most likely to see it.
The more you Tweet, the more opportunities you have to be seen. That’s not an invitation to spam your followers. But if your impressions are low, increasing your Tweet frequency may help.
Unfortunately there is no magic number that works for everyone. You’re going to have to experiment with your followers and measure the results. Start on the lower end and gradually increase the amount of times you Tweet each day. After a while, you’ll start to notice how well your followers respond.
A lot of brands get worried about overwhelming their audience with too much content. Track your number of followers lost to get an idea of whether or not people are unfollowing you because you’re Tweeting too often.
A survey from Fractl and Buzzstream found the top reasons people unfollow brands on social media were:
- Too much self-promotion
- Automated messaging
The takeaway here is that the reason people unfollow brands has more to do with the quality of what they post, rather than the quantity. If your Tweets are relevant and offer value, your followers will stay engaged.
Tweet Better Content
Earlier this year, Twitter rolled out its updated timeline algorithm. With the change, Tweets that a user would be most likely to read will show up in their feed first.
If a person consistently engages with Tweets from a particular account they’re following, they’ll be more likely to see their latest Tweets when they open Twitter. Sharing quality content that your followers engage with gives your brand a better chance of showing up at the top of feed.
You should already have an idea of what type of content your followers resonate with, but to get a clearer picture, you can review the performance of your older Tweets. Look at the Tweets with the highest engagement and share more of that type of content. You can also re-share content that has performed well.
Encourage People to Retweet You
Impressions don’t only include people that see Tweets directly from you. It also includes Retweets from other people.
When you can get other people to share your Tweets with their audience, you’re able to expand your potential impressions beyond just your followers.
Getting retweets is easier said than done. But there are some things you can do to improve your chances. According to Crazy Egg, adding the phrase “Please Retweet” increases your chances of being retweeted by 160%.
— ASPCA (@ASPCA) June 27, 2016
Another great way to increase the number of Retweets you get is to @mention specific users. They’ll receive a notification, and most likely Retweet, reply or like your Tweet. Whenever you’re sharing a post written by someone else, get into the habit of mentioning the author to entice them to engage.
@SproutSocial Thanks for the share!
— Neal Schaffer (@NealSchaffer) May 28, 2016
Use Popular Hashtags
Using hashtags is one of the best ways to get your Tweets seen by people that aren’t following you. When people are looking for Tweets on a certain topic, they search popular industry hashtags. For instance, the hashtag #smm is common in our industry because it’s an acronym for social media marketing.
— Mark Fidelman (@markfidelman) June 26, 2016
In order to use hashtags to increase your impressions, you need to know which ones people are searching for. We wrote a helpful guide to show you how to find the best Twitter hashtags.
Here’s a quick tip to find hashtags that your audience might be searching. Do a search for a popular hashtag related to your industry. On the left-hand side of the search results, Twitter will suggest some related hashtags as well.
You can also look at some of the most commonly used hashtags when people mention your brand on Twitter using Sprout’s Trends Report.
Here you have the opportunity to create a list of the relevant hashtags, and incorporate them into Tweets when it makes sense. You could even use them to look for content to share. For instance, if people are frequently using the hashtag #espresso when mentioning your coffee shop, you could share more content related to espressos.
Start Getting Your Tweets Seen
The more eyes you can get on your Tweets, the higher your chances of getting engagement. The other half of the equation is providing relevant content, eye-catching photos and captivating headlines.
But it all starts with Twitter impressions!