Twitter Click Through Rates

"Don’t look at your stats". That was the advice given to me by a good friend shortly after I started posting here more frequently. It was well intentioned and came from a very genuine place. Basically, he was concerned that if I paid attention to the traffic numbers I would get discouraged and eventually stop posting. 

But, I just. can’t. help myself!

So, I have Google Analytics hooked up. I also use bitly to post links to Twitter so I can track the spread of those links, see retweets and get click data. And by all accounts I’m kind of blown away at the response. Seriously, thank you all for reading and engaging. Its been terribly satisfying.

My routine for posting is pretty consistent. Write a post late at night, publish to Tumblr then post to Twitter around 7am the next morning. That’s it. I don’t use any fancy tools for perfectly timing my tweets or post the same link multiple times throughout the day. One post to Tumblr, one post to Twitter then let ya’ll figure our what’s worth spreading. 

Its through this routine that I’ve started noticing something. Though Twitter is a great channel for distributing content, engagement seems low. A few recent examples have highlighted this for me. 

Two days ago I published a post about the TikTok watch project on Kickstarter. It seemed to have struck a cord and has been spreading ever since. As of tonight, its been retweeted by 55 people with an aggregate follower base of 1,829716. Crazy, right? Yet, as I watched the link spread, I noticed the actual clicks it generated were relatively low. As of tonight, that post which reached nearly 2 million Twitter users has been clicked on 731 times. That shakes out to a .04% click through rate.

That seemed awfully low, so I ran the totals for today’s post on reinvention. It also got some pretty good distribution on the Twitters. As of tonight, its been retweeted by 74 people with an aggregate follower base of 1,530,021 and been clicked on 842 times. That shakes out to a .06% click through rate.

I’m extremely bullish on Twitter. But I couldn’t help but wonder a) if I’m an anomaly or 2) what this might mean for promoted tweets, in stream advertising or overall user engagement.

Industry average click through rates for banner ads hover between 1% and 2%. Email advertising performs slightly better with between 3% to 7% click through rates. My personal click through rate is much lower than even those. Note, this isn’t a clean apples to apples comparison. Just because my link showed up in someone’s stream, doesn’t mean they were even logged in to see it. So actual impressions are not so easy to track, but I’m trying to understand the data I have. I’d love to have others look at their click data to see if I’m an anomaly or whether sub 1% click through rates are the norm on Twitter. 

I can’t make any definitive assertions about what this means but if I’m not a massive outlier, it suggests Twitter has a problem. I believe there’s no better team on the planet to solve it, but its still a problem. And, may hint at all of the fits and starts we’ve been seeing with their different ad products.

Now, my personal take away is there are no free rides or silver bullets. Twitter may be able to up their engagement and charge premium rates to reach their ever expanding user base, but for now, little ole is going to have to earn every click we get. They don’t call it earned media for nothing.