Back in January, at the height of the "Twitter's in crisis" chatter (after the company's share price had just hit a record low), we noted that one of the big challenges Twitter faces is that it's lost control of its data:
"Twitter's data is being used by an ever-growing number of third party providers for mention monitoring, share of voice analysis and other forms of tracking, much of which Twitter has little control over and gains little revenue from. And what's worse, some of these platforms actually reduce the need for users to visit Twitter proper, as all the data and insights are provided within these other platforms."
The solution, we suggested, would be for Twitter to build out its own analytics tools - Twitter could provide their own versions of every monitoring, tracking and tweet search tool on the market, and their versions would likely be better, as they'd be coming direct from the source with access to the full range of tweet data.
Evidently, Twitter agreed, and today, the social network has unveiled a new tool called 'Twitter Dashboard' to help businesses make the most of their Twitter presence without having to refer to third-party options.
Here's how it works:
When you first go to the new Twitter Dashboard link and log in, you're taken through the set-up process. The first element relates to what sort of business you own and how many employees you have.
There's an interesting note on that front page - "Your answers will help us offer relevant tips about what to tweet". That element comes up later in the process.
Once you've entered in your details, you'll be taken to the next section - creating a custom Tweet dashboard built around the key terms you want to track on Twitter. And what's most interesting here is that those key terms arent restricted to your business name and handle, Twitter Dashboard actively recommends a range of related terms, based on the regularity with which they're mentioned in relation to your chosen keywords.
As you can see, on the left side of the screen there's your business name and handle already highlighted, with the listing of other commonly connected terms below that. On the right, there's a live listing of the mentions based on your selection. If you add in new terms, that listing will update to reflect whatever terms you've chosen.
This is a great addition, and will definitely help Twitter newcomers to make more sense of the Twitter monitoring process. You can also see, in that first screenshot, that you can also use negative qualifiers (listed under 'What's not related to your business?') Normally, the use of negative qualifiers comes down to Twitter's advanced search, and to set up a stream dedicated to monitoring those terms, you'd need to conduct a search and/or manually type in the full search string into a stream in your social media monitoring dashboard like Hootsuite, which can be difficult for those not in the know. Twitter Dashboard makes the process a little easier - now, if you sell basketball shoes, for example, you could put in negative qualifiers like 'formal' and 'dress' and 'hiking' and any other range of terms to better narrow down your Twitter tracking to help locate only the relevant mentions.
And once you're done, you're taken to your new Twitter business home screen - a dedicated tweet feed based on your chosen search terms.
You can update your search terms any time you like by clicking the 'Edit' option at the top right of your feed and, as you can see, there's a small idea window on the right which prompts you with different ideas on what you can do to boost tweet engagement (those recommendations, Twitter says, are tailored to your business and what you do, based on your selections in the set-up process).
You can also see and respond to Messages direct from this screen.
Scheduling and Tracking
The next element is the 'Create' tab.
In this tab, there's a note (on the left) as to how many times you've tweeted in the last week and a small prompt below the tweet composer window on what you might want to tweet about - again, as noted by Twitter, these recommendations are tailored based on what your business is and does:
"For example, if you work at a restaurant, a tip like, "Your team is as unique as your business. Tweet a surprising fact about one of your team members," might remind you to share some recent recognition your chef received. Or, if you're an interior designer, seeing, "Share the love. Like and Retweet kind words from your customers," might prompt you to Retweet a customer's excited reaction to one of your recent projects."
But what may be most interesting about the 'Create' screen is the option to schedule tweets. Of course, you've been able to schedule tweets via Tweetdeck since forever, and you can do so in any number of third-party management tools - the capacity, in itself, is not new. But Twitter Dashboard provides improved tracking and scheduling tools on Twitter itself, all within the one area, making it easy to see what you've got scheduled and when.
Once you've scheduled an item, you'll be able to see it on a calendar at the bottom of the 'Create' screen.
You can also easily add more tweets at any day time by clicking the '+Add' option on any given day.
Where I do think Twitter may have missed a trick in this section is in not providing a listing of when your audience is active online. You can get this data from other sources like Followerwonk, so I'm a little surprised Twitter didn't look to add this in.
But either way, native scheduling is the preferred method of many users, and Twitter, could, theoretically, improve their native scheduling options, as Facebook has done, to make it more appealing to build schedules on platform, as opposed to via third-party providers.
And the last tab is 'Analytics' - and while all of the analytics options provided have been available for some time via Twitter's existing analytics tools, they're broken down a bit further here, making it easier for businesses to get a quick understanding of their key metrics (again, especially relevant for Twitter newcomers).
First, there's a listing of your activity, including tweets per day, tweet performance and replies.
Below that, there's a chart showing your daily mentions and a list of new followers.
And below that there's a chart of profile views and total Tweet impressions (how many people viewed your tweets)
You can switch these listings between 'Last 30 Days' and 'Last 60 Days'.
On the 'Tweets' tab within your Analytics dashboard, you can get quick access to insights about each specific tweet.
You can switch this between 'Recent Tweets' and 'Recent Engagements', with the latter showing you the tweets that people have either re-tweeted, or favorited.
Interestingly, this screen doesn't have any date filters, nor does it provide you with the ability to sort by engagement type. This is bit odd - as you can see in the screenshot, there are tweets listed here from January and November, and the subsequent listing beneath is not chronological. The ability to sort them as you'd like would be a welcome addition at some stage.
Clicking on the 'View Tweet Activity' prompt beneath any individual tweet will take you to your regular Twitter Analytics dashboard to see the full data.
It's an interesting addition, and one which, as noted, will help newer users, in particular, to get their heads around the Twitter process and better understand mention tracking and response.
And also highly relevant, given current trends - Twitter Dashboard is available via mobile, with a new app now available in the app store (no Android version as yet).
Even if you're a seasoned Twitter user, the new tool is worth a look - even if just to set up a dedicated mention-tracking dashboard based on a range of keywords to see what comes up. And while there's nothing overly new or evolutionary about the tools on offer, it's a clever tool that will definitely help Twitter newbies make more sense of the process and better contextualize what all of the data means.
The new Twitter Dashboard beta is available to all US-based businesses today (though I've been able to access it fine in Australia). Head to dashboard.twitter.com or download Dashboard in the App Store to check it out.