Either everyone but me is using a VPN, or the people making the most use of my tweets don’t actually follow me on Twitter. I came to this conclusion last night after looking at the stats for my various Twitter accounts. While I tweet throughout the day, I don’t expect my followers to click on every link I post; that could be a full-time job in itself. Nevertheless, from the clicks I do get, I did find some interesting information.
Hootsuite provides stats on the number of clicks your tweets get, though only if you use their ow.ly URL shortening service. On the stats page, you can see the number of clicks you’ve had over a particular date range, how those clicks were referred, where the people who clicked the links came from, and also which links have been most popular.
What surprised me is that even for accounts where I thought I was targeting a particular audience, the people clicking on the links were far more geographically diverse than I had anticipated. I have no idea what use my musings on the Kenyan economy are to somebody in Russia, but that is what happened last week. At the same time, clicks from the areas I did expect were outnumbered by those from elsewhere, usually the USA or the UK. This didn’t tally with the locations listed for my followers (I nerded out and did a check), and it puzzled me, until I remembered that in addition to appearing in their streams, my tweets do also appear in the public timeline.
Does this necessarily matter? I suppose it doesn’t, although it did show me that maybe I shouldn’t fret so much about targeting niches through Twitter. Those people who decide to follow me do so because they are interested in what I’m tweeting about, and if somebody following the public timeline or searching for keywords finds a one of my tweets and clicks a link, so much the better. If I was uncomfortable with this, I could always choose to make my tweets private, but where would the fun be in that?
The main lesson I took away is that I can’t be sure exactly how many people actually find my tweets useful. While my lists of followers continue to grow in fits and starts, it’s impossible to know precisely how many people will see a particular tweet or click a link. By appearing in the public timeline, everything I publish via Twitter is accessible to everyone, even those who don’t use Twitter. Does this mean the end of targeted tweeting? Probably not, as pulling together all my accounts would lead to an unholy mish-mash of relevant content and personal diversion. Far better, instead, to keep them separate and to hope that the anonymous clickers continue to enjoy what I offer.
[Image by Sklathill]