Twitter has come a long way since its earliest days in the social media world. The first iteration of the service was almost completely uninterested in user engagement and interaction. It might be hard to fathom, but the very first days of twitter existed without any official support for things like retweets or “@” tweets that were directed to a specific user of the social media network. There was no ability to send direct messages, and there was hardly any way to monitor how successful a given Twitter account was outside of simply looking at that account’s number of followers. Things have changed dramatically since then.
Whether it’s the implementation of Twitter-endorsed retweeting, the embrace of communicating directly with users both in private messages and in public Tweets, or the service’s increasing compatibility with major social media analytics tools, there have never been more ways to look at an account, judge its success, and make the changes needed to go more consistently viral. Keenly aware that its service increasingly relies on user engagement as a way of determining both value and marketing success, Twitter has decided to open a new account and engage in one of its famed “experiments.” This one focuses on something that the site calls “achievements,” and it has everything to do with how often someone is retweeted, favorited, and more.
The Achievement Bird: Twitter’s Attempt at Adding Value to Analytics
For those truly invested in social media marketing and the metrics needed to measure it, Twitter has its own Twitter Analytics tool that’s like the social version of Google’s search-oriented analytics option. Despite its relatively high level of utility, this tool is one that hasn’t seen adoption by a wide number of Twitter users. Whether that’s because Twitter users already get their data from an outside source, or because a vast number of users are consumers rather than marketing professions, remains to be seen. Twitter, however, isn’t waiting for wide adoption of this service to inform its users of their viral successes.
The Achievement Bird account, which can be found at @AchievementBird, is a direct, user-to-user analytics tool that keeps the site’s users informed about their successes. Users simply follow the account, and it follows them back. That allows the Achievement Bird to monitor what they tweet, how often it’s retweeted, and how many people clicked Twitter’s famed “favorite” star. At regular intervals, the Achievement Bird will send the user a direct message indicating how many times these actions have taken place. That’s a great start, but it’s not the only way that the Achievement Bird helps users learn about their viral outreach.
After the Achievement Bird has been following a user for a few days or weeks, it has enough information to compare the success of their current tweets to those they posted weeks, months, or even years ago. That allows the Achievement Bird to send messages like the following:
“Your most recent tweet was favorited 15x more than your next most popular tweet, and Retweeted 3x more often as the average tweet posted by your account.”
If that isn’t enough to inflate the egos of today’s Twitter users, surely nothing will suffice. This information is useful because of the way it’s presented. Unlike Twitter Analytics and similar third-party tools, the Achievement Bird explains things in plain terms, using simple language and leaving behind complex data points and percentages. Users quickly learn what’s popular, how it compares to pat work, and how they’re doing in the grand scheme of things on Twitter itself.
Consider it a Gateway to Better Analytics Proficiency
Up to this point, the @AchievementBird account has been mentioned as if it exists separately from the Twitter Analytics portal that recently was opened up to all users of the social media service. That’s not the case, however. In fact, the only way that the Achievement Bird finds out about a user’s prior successes on the website is to dig deep into their analytics history. That’s permitted by the user simply following the account, In effect, following @AchievementBird is like giving it permission to do background research and look for the most relevant data points necessary when comparing current tweets to older work.
This approach to researching past data and making it relevant to the present is primarily an effort being undertaken by Twitter to increase the popularity of its own Twitter Analytics service. The reasons for this are pretty obvious: Twitter was late to the game in developing Twitter Analytics, and many third-party companies quickly filled the void with their own approaches to measuring engagement, rewarding viral campaigns on Twitter, and showcasing the best keywords, links, and posts shared with the world by a given account. Given Twitter’s preference for tighter control over every aspect of its service, especially third-party applications and external website tools, the Achievement Bird just makes sense in this context.
Not the First Twitter Experiment to Focus on User Engagement and Statistics
The @AchievementBird account might seem like something innovative and new from Twitter, but the truth is that the company has been conducting experiments like this one out in the public for virtually the entire history of Twitter.com. Before the Achievement Bird account came to light, the company engaged in a series of experiments and “website hacks” that allows users to see how often they were being retweeted, where and if their tweet had been shared on an outside website, and how often people viewed their profile and favorited their posts.
Each of these things was done with a Twitter account at first, but the lessons learned were eventually integrated in to the broader Twitter service itself. Many of the initial experiments conducted by the website’s engineers were folded into Twitter’s contextual advertising mechanism, where their data points gave clues about how to best recommend a given ad to a Twitter user based on their posts, viral content, and savvy use of the service. Much of this data came from the site’s @MagicRecs account, which initially focused on how to recommend other worthy Twitter accounts to users based on what they shared with friends throughout the day.
Other experiments saw their lessons and data integrated into the relatively recent development of Twitter Analytics. That’s especially true when it comes to former accounts like @EventParrot. The account, which focused on sharing breaking news with users via direct messages, was eventually used to judge the viral nature of posts when sharing analytics data. In both cases, initial experiments like these enhanced how Twitter’s developers catered to users, and enhanced how users interacted with the service at every level.
Engagement Monitoring Might Be Next in Line for a Boost
It’s widely known that user engagement is the hottest new metric for determining a site’s value, relevance, and market position. Google long ago got into this market with its Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, but it looks like Twitter might be about to make a move of its own. It’s only possible to speculate how Twitter will leverage the lessons of @AchievementBird when monitoring user engagement in the future. To help guide the company’s course, however, interested parties should go ahead and start following the account sooner rather than later. It’s bound to at least be an interesting, enlightening new way to use the world’s fastest-growing social media service.