There's no way around it, when it comes to thinking about what needs to be measured for online success, no one is smarter than Avinash Kaushik.
Kaushik is the author of Web Analytics - An Hour A Day, Blogger over at Occam's Razor, and a full-time Analytics Evangelist for Google. On top of that, he is one of the best speakers on the topics of web analytics and online optimization out there. Watching him speak today at the CRE8 summit in Orlando (held by the good people at Aquent) was a total treat (he also happens to be a frequent guest on Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast). During breakfast we got into a discussion about the power of data and the amazing third-party applications that have been coming out of Twitter and their open API.
Twitter is an amazing place to really understand what people are saying about your brand.
That concept is not new, but if you think about the sheer number of people on Twitter and the powerful amount of content that is being spit out into the open, we have probably never had this amazing of an opportunity to really know what people think about brands... in a real, pure and unfiltered way. It's not difficult to do a quick Twitter search for your brands, products, services and the industry you serve to get a fairly detailed perspective on how people feel. You can also know if there's absolutely nothing being said at all. Couple that with your ability to see and compare that with your competitors, and the voice of customer is suddenly very real and very measurable.
So, what does it take to really be successful in the online channels?
If brands can wrap their heads around why they should be on Twitter (hint: it should have a direct tie to your overall business strategy) and are creating compelling content, they'll quickly learn this dirty little secret about Twitter: it's not about how many people are following you. That's a traditional media measurement. What really counts is how often and frequently people are passing your content along to their trusted networks through the retweet.
The Retweet in the ultimate metric.
If you only have a handful of followers and you are serious about providing value (i.e. tweeting from the heart), great content will spread. People will take your tweets and retweet it to their connections (followers). From there, you will start adding people (followers) to your network who are really connecting with you because what you do is important and relevant to them.
It's not just about being there for customer service.
A retweet is one of the best metrics we currently have for really seeing and understanding how human and how real your interactions are with your consumers and customers. It's not just for Twitter - but for overall brand perception. It's high praise because you can't really ask for a retweet, it just happens. Someone sees your content and considers it so valuable that it's worth re-mentioning to their entire network.
Traditional companies will still keep chasing after the "how many hits" to their website and "how many followers" (on Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, etc...) metrics. It strokes the corporate ego to know that people are "there". That being said, how much more valuable is it to see how people pass that content on to their peers (and what they say)?
Check out Retweetist to see how your brand is really performing online.
What do you think? Are retweets one of the best metrics we have to measure a brand's success?