Comparing actual to potential impressions on Twitter

A few months ago, we added a new analysis to our Twitter Trackers – the Tweet detail report. You can now see all kinds of useful detail about a Tweet – yours or someone else’s. Learn what kind of response a Tweet got, how many impressions it generated, who engaged with it and when, and more.

This report is available in all Twitter Trackers for every Tweet. And if you’re using an account Tracker and you have Twitter login credentials for that account, you can add even more information to the Tweet detail report. You can add in engagement data like actual impressions, likes, video views, follower growth and clicks. Use this information to identify exactly what Tweets led to the different behaviors you consider important.

One of our favorite uses of the Tweet detail report is to compare actual impressions to potential impressions. On Twitter, we measure two types of impressions: potential impressions and actual impressions. Potential impressions measure the total number of views possible – how many timelines a Tweet could have appeared in, if everyone was around to see your posts or didn’t scroll quickly past. Actual impressions measure how many views your Tweets did receive – how many sets of actual eyeballs landed on your posts. Both measures include any retweets and replies your Tweet received.

Why does this matter? Why not just measure actual impressions and call it a day? If you look only at actual impressions, you’re missing a pretty big part of the overall Twitter engagement picture. Without the context of potential impressions, you can’t know how effective a particular Tweet was. How many impressions could that Tweet have generated? What percent of potential impressions did it actually achieve?

Typically, you can expect to see impression rates in the single digits when you look at actual impressions as a percentage of potential impressions – usually somewhere from 1-8%. Most Tweets will generate fewer than 10% of potential impressions. So if your actual impressions are 15-20% (or rarely, even higher) of potential impressions, you’ve generated higher-than-normal engagement. Conversely, if your actual impressions are 1% or less of potential impressions, you’ve generated lower-than-normal engagement. This will vary from account to account, especially if you have lots of followers.

What can you do to boost engagement? Use your actual to potential impressions ratio to understand which Tweets need improvement, and then focus on improving those Tweets. Try things like:

  • Add or change the hashtags you use. The right hashtag ensures your Tweet reaches new audiences.
  • Include an emoji, photo or video. Posts with some visual interest tend to perform better than text-only posts.
  • Alter the tone of your Tweet with humor. Some of Twitter’s most successful accounts rely heavily on humor.
  • Update the content with something more relevant or useful. The more interesting your Tweet is, the more likely it is to get retweeted, which will boost your actual impressions.

You can access your Tweet detail report in your Twitter Trackers by clicking on the bar graph icon below any Tweet in your Tracker. And to add actual impressions data, go to your Tracker’s edit page and authenticate with Twitter. And for other ideas on how to use our Tweet detail report, take a look at our posts on what happens when a Tweet goes viral and how to add and interpret engagement data.

If you don’t have a Union Metrics subscription yet and want to get this analysis for your own Tweets, learn more here.