A couple of things have always kind of bothered me about Twitter: its search functionality and analytics.
How often have you tweeted a link or said something you thought was really pithy and gone back to try to find it? Depending on how often you tweet, you might have luck scrolling through a couple of days worth of posts and scanning for something familiar. But that one awesome post from a couple of months ago? No chance.
There are actually a variety of other things that you might want insight into, such as:
- What devices do you use to tweet?
- Where are your followers from?
- What types of tweets get the most RTs or replies?
- What time of day are your tweets more influential?
- Who unfollowed you and when? (Was it something I said?)
The interesting thing here is that Twitter has all this information, and they make the numbers available – just not through their interface.
Enter my two new favorite tools: ThinkUp and SocialBro.
ThinkUp is a free open source web app that captures all of your activity on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and keeps it in a database that you control. The trick to unlocking all of the goodies it has to offer is that you need a website running PHP and MySQL and about 15 minutes worth of time to set it up.
It has a nice GUI for the setup and basically holds your hand through the entire process. You’ll have to create a database, but if you’re already running a WordPress install or something, this can tack right on to that.
After you install the software (in about 5 minutes), you'll have to link it to each of your social media accounts. This can be a little time consuming and tricky but if you follow the software wizard/walkthrough, it makes it a breeze.
After you have everything all set up, you’re ready to take a deep dive into your tweets. In addition to showing you the answers to nearly all of the questions that I mentioned above, it does something I can't believe I've been able to live without for so long: it archives all of this data! That's right - It backs up your entire Twitter account and lets you export it in Excel!
Kiss those days trying to duct tape a Twitter backup solution together (with RSS feeds, autoposting to blogs, email digests, etc.) goodbye! All you have to do here is click Export.
Another cool thing about ThinkUp is that allows you to customize your privacy settings. Personally I keep all of my install locked up so only I can see it but if you wish you can share some of this information with others, either through password protected user accounts (which could be handy for businesses or groups) or just by making parts of your install public. This is something that the WhiteHouse.gov has done and you can view their ThinkUp which allows you almost complete access to their Twitter and Facebook info here.
This should give you a pretty good idea of how the system works and the types of information you'll be able to learn about your own accounts.
The second toolset that I've been using a lot lately to parse Twitter information in other ways is SocialBro. SocialBro is a locally run application (also free!) that is built and run on the Adobe AIR platform.
Now while a lot of these programs have similarities and sometimes even overlap in functionality, SocialBro is primarily about better understanding your friends and followers.
At its heart, SocialBro is a powerful search engine that lets you parse and tag those in your social circles.
At a glance you can see your Friends and if they follow you back. You can see how many Tweets a day someone has, find the best time to tweet, and discover people who are following you, but you don't follow.
While this can all be handy to understand, my favorite feature of SocialBro is that they will also give you the same information on your competition. You just type in your competitor’s Twitter name and (no password required) in seconds you will have all the information to drill through on them.
Find out who influences your influencers and why. Find out who you have in common and who you need to have on your radar.
If you want to grow your Twitter following, the secrets are in here and free for the taking. What are you waiting for?
Here's an intro video to help you get a grasp on some of what you'll find in SocialBro: