I’ve been going through some of the analytic Twitter tools/sites listed in oneforty. It’s a mixed bag, as should be expected, with some nice tools. In this post, I’ll talk about TweetReach, TweetStats, and Twitoaster; the rest will have to wait.
TweetReach lets you track how many people saw your tweet, particularly if it has been re-tweeted. It seems like a rather naive recursive walk of the follower graph, but it may be useful for tracking tweets that get a lot of attention. Unfortunately, it relies on Twitter search, and thus is limited in how far back in time it can go. My attempts to track a tweet I made in July (that got a few retweets) failed because it had dropped off Twitter’s search history. Also, the tool counts the number of followers (and thus potentially-reached people), rather than the number of people to whom the tweet was actually delivered. I don’t think Twitter serves up that fine-grain detail through its API, although it would be interesting to see that data. Also, I hope it doesn’t double-count people who follow more than one person who re-tweeted the information.
TweetStats is another analytic tool that computes all sorts of statistics about your tweeting practices. While some of the graphs are interesting, it’s not clear to me why I care about my tweeting to this degree. I already know that I tweet most frequently in the morning: That’s when the blog posts get posted!
Twitoaster seems like an interesting alternative to TweetDeck for threaded conversations, particularly if your use of Twitter is more conversational. Skimming my recent tweets, I found at least two responses to a tweet that I hadn’t realized were responses, which made them considerably more comprehensible! It would also be useful to see conversations among people whom you follow, even if you are not (initially?) part of the conversation. The stats aren’t any more useful than those of TweetStats, however, and the capabilities of this site also suffer from twitter search limitations.
Given Twitter’s resource constraints with respect to archiving its history, I can see several possible outcomes for tools such as these: one is that each maintains their own history of all the tweets they ingest. With a relatively small user base for each tool, this strategy may not be too expensive. After all, disk space is cheap and tweets are small. Another possibility is for someone like Bing or Google to index tweets and serve up the history on Twitter’s behalf. Or, we could just ignore history and live in the near-present. Of course it worth remembering that those who ignore history are doomed to re-tweet it.
Postscript: Looks like I re-invented the last sentence in this post. Daniel Tunkelang points out that the original was coined by TwHistory, whose tag line is “Those who forget history are doomed to retweet it.” Oh, the irony.