The Retweet Is One Of The Best Measurements Of A Brand's Success

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There’s no way around it, when it comes to thinking about what needs to be measured for online success, no one is smarter than Avinash Kaushik.

Kaushik is the author of Web Analytics – An Hour A Day, Blogger over at Occam’s Razor, and a full-time Analytics Evangelist for Google. On top of that, he is one of the best speakers on the topics of web analytics and online optimization out there. Watching him speak today at the CRE8 summit in Orlando (held by the good people at Aquent) was a total treat (he also happens to be a frequent guest on Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast). During breakfast we got into a discussion about the power of data and the amazing third-party applications that have been coming out of Twitter and their open API.

Twitter is an amazing place to really understand what people are saying about your brand.

That concept is not new, but if you think about the sheer number of people on Twitter and the powerful amount of content that is being spit out into the open, we have probably never had this amazing of an opportunity to really know what people think about brands… in a real, pure and unfiltered way. It’s not difficult to do a quick Twitter search for your brands, products, services and the industry you serve to get a fairly detailed perspective on how people feel. You can also know if there’s absolutely nothing being said at all. Couple that with your ability to see and compare that with your competitors, and the voice of customer is suddenly very real and very measurable.

So, what does it take to really be successful in the online channels?

If brands can wrap their heads around why they should be on Twitter (hint: it should have a direct tie to your overall business strategy) and are creating compelling content, they’ll quickly learn this dirty little secret about Twitter: it’s not about how many people are following you. That’s a traditional media measurement. What really counts is how often and frequently people are passing your content along to their trusted networks through the retweet.

The Retweet in the ultimate metric.

If you only have a handful of followers and you are serious about providing value (i.e. tweeting from the heart), great content will spread. People will take your tweets and retweet it to their connections (followers). From there, you will start adding people (followers) to your network who are really connecting with you because what you do is important and relevant to them.

It’s not just about being there for customer service. 

A retweet is one of the best metrics we currently have for really seeing and understanding how human and how real your interactions are with your consumers and customers. It’s not just for Twitter – but for overall brand perception. It’s high praise because you can’t really ask for a retweet, it just happens. Someone sees your content and considers it so valuable that it’s worth re-mentioning to their entire network.

Traditional companies will still keep chasing after the "how many hits" to their website and "how many followers" (on Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, etc…) metrics. It strokes the corporate ego to know that people are "there". That being said, how much more valuable is it to see how people pass that content on to their peers (and what they say)?

Check out Retweetist to see how your brand is really performing online.

What do you think? Are retweets one of the best metrics we have to measure a brand’s success?


  1. RT’s are definitely a good metric as being the way in which ‘word-of-mouth referrals are made on twitter. Many of us also use hashtags to track trending topics and stay on topic. Could hashtags be a decent metric as well?

  2. Mitch, if you had to pick one. Would you rather a RT or a blog comment?
    I think how far the message spreads beyond your original group is important. If your follower RT and some people add you is great. However, I think those people RTing your message as well is even better.

  3. While I think RT’s are a useful metric, I think it depends on your brand/product/service. I enjoy SouthWests’s tweets, but I rarely ever retweet them.
    I also wonder if RT’s are still only used by a small portion of Twitter users. Most of my non-digital/marketing friends are just now beginning to use Twitter, and sharing a link, let alone retweeting one is very foreign to them.
    However, many of them do talk about brands with no idea someone could be listening.
    So, yes I think they’re important. But no, I don’t think they’re always the most important.

  4. Mitch:
    Hard to argue with either yourself or Avinash on this one. I think this is very timely, given all the attention around Social Media Monitoring and the “new” analytics data that can provide – evidenced, in part, by last weeks Webtrends/Radian6 partnership announcement. (and the number of RT’s that generated)
    I’m sure Avinash and Google are thinking about this quite a bit (In fact, I’m sure they’re doing a lot more than thinking)

  5. And to make a horribly crass sales pitch :), we’ve built Twitter analytics into Raven Internet Marketing Tools to help you measure and analyze your retweets reach. If you’re a Twitter nerd such as myself, it is a blast to go through the numbers and put a metric to things.

  6. Agreed Mitch. Reminds me of Harvard Business Reviews article – The one number you need to grow – which is about measuring the likliehood of recommending a business. RT is the online equivalent but not the only one (email forwards for example) b/c as the article says any action which involves putting your reputation on the line to a friend is the ultimate measure of your support of a brand.

  7. I recently had 15 minutes of fame as a twitter micro-celebrity. Looking back, I realize that I probably learned more about how people were reacting to my account from retweets than anything else.
    One side note on all of this: if you really want to be able to look at RTs as a metric, your tweets need to be short enough to be retweetable. I’d occasionally write great stuff and be disappointed when nobody retweeted, then see something that was pretty so-so spread like crazy. I realized that character count matters — it’s just too hard to RT something that’s already bumping up against 140 characters.
    If you wanted to be retweeted, it’s probably not a bad rule of thumb to limit yourself to under 140. Subtract five characters, plus however many are in your handle, and you’re in a better ballpark.

  8. I totally agree that the retweet allows for “the voice of customer is suddenly very real and very measurable.” Add to that social media monitoring along w/ the ability to analyze & chart the information & you’re on to something.
    When I show people how they can quickly pull all the Retweets from the twitter conversation in Techrigy SM2, they’re surprised. But it’s powerful to say that a certain percentage of the activity around the brand (or competitor) is due to retweeting (wom).
    and a quick tip for gaining followers on Twitter – monitor for your industry topic, retweet the high quality tweets & people will follow you. ie: Be a good twitizen & it also helps build community around your brand (personal or corp).
    Community Strategist, Techrigy

  9. Went to retweet and search for Dell, HP, IBM…not much retweet ;-).
    May be the metric is still ahead of the time.

  10. Morning! Definitely agree that retweets combined with some more traditional web metrics are really starting to help indicate the value that people find in specific content.
    The ease of use of Twitter allows for great information to spread fast, but it’s also that much easier to ignore empty content. I’m fascinated by how the Twitter conversation is folding into the larger online dialogue. Keep the great topics like this coming…I’m anxious to read more.
    Amber Naslund

  11. Mitch, really enjoyed your conversation with Avinash — very stimulating. There are lot of topics in there I would love to talk more about/debate but I figured for now I would just leave it at how much I appreciate the perspectives you put forward in your work. Thanks

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