Aaron Gray // Greater Returns

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Musings on Web Analytics, product strategy + other stuff.

Eric T. Peterson Doubts the Importance of Twitter

Eric Peterson spoke at Web Analytics Wednesday last night at WebTrends HQ in Portland. As usual, he was engaging and animated. I’d say there were about 30 people in attendance, and Eric kept the attention of every one of them. The question and answer session went on for 20 to 30 minutes.

Afterwards, a smaller group of us, including Eric, went to Dragonfish for beer and sushi (Eric’s treat — thanks Eric!). Eventually the conversation turned to Twitter. I found myself in the unexpected position of being the only one in the room who a) uses Twitter; and b) actually understood what Twitter is, how it is used, and it’s potential value to the marketing organization.

Eric actually went on record with this statement (paraphrasing here): “Twitter has no value. You can’t measure it. It’s just a bunch of people talking.” (Cue uproarious laughter.) Eric’s a friend of mine, so I’m poking fun at him here. But seriously, I think he’s missing the boat.

I can think of a way that Twitter is immediately measurable with web analytics, and some ways that it can be measured or support future measurement outside of traditional web analytics.

Use it as a viral or direct marketing tool. Use a URL minimizer (or smallerizer, as I like to call them) such as Twurl for all embedded links. Twurl has built in measurement, allowing you to see click-throughs on all your links. It’s just an experimental tool at this point, but there are a lot of things it’s creator, Rick Turoczy, could do with it. Of course, you could put a web analytics campaign tracking code on the redirect URL to track response and subsequent site behavior, too. Seems pretty measurable.

Use it to mine past or monitor for present conversations occurring about your brand. Track those conversations across the social mediasphere as they start on blogs, move to Twitter, and then end up back on the blog again. Use this as a component of buzz measurement. Go a step further and score sentiment. Are people talking positively about your brand or negatively about your brand. Identify the influencers and model the conversations. Are you trending in a negative sentiment direction? Does a negative comment from an influencer change the sentiment of those in their sphere of influence? Twitter’s APIs provide access to a massively rich source of data about conversations about your brand, and even provide the FULL TEXT of the conversation. We’re not too much engineering effort away from being able to mine that data, follow the conversations to other social platforms, map out who’s influencing who, and get notified who you who you should be engaging and why.

As I write this Chris Grant and John Hawbaker are having a conversation on Twitter about the the engagement model Eric Peterson has proposed.

Regardless of measurement, though. Twitter is important for the same reason that blogs you don’t write are important. Your brand has an online community whether you choose to participate in it or not. (I read that somewhere, but I don’t remember who said it. Citation, anyone?) Participating allows you to impact the conversation.

Update: Forgot to mention, Eric did create a twitter account from his iPhone last night while he was arguing its unimportance. Welcome aboard, Eric. 😉

Filed under: Social Measurement, Social Media, Web Analytics

Web Analytics Wednesday (as in Thursday) at WebTrends HQ tomorrow.

Web Analytics Wednesday in Portland will be held tomorrow (Thursday) at WebTrends HQ. Eric Peterson will be presenting on The Future of Web Analytics. If you are in Portland, please plan to attend.

More info and RSVP here: http://twurl.cc/t2

Filed under: Web Analytics

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