Listening vs Hearing How to Increase your Twitter Engagement Rate


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Listening vs. Hearing: How to increase your Twitter engagement rate

John Murphy, Senior Strategist at BLOOM presents a comprehensive guide on how to increase your engagement rate on Twitter.

Twitter’s a funny old beast when you’re a numbers geek.

Think about your Twitter home page and you’ll see what I mean. In the top left of the page, there are three figures: Tweets, Following and Followers.  Roughly, you could view these as how much you talk, how many people you’re mildly interested in and how many people are mildly interested in you. For a platform that purports to let you “Find out what’s happening, right now, with the people and organisations you care about” there aren’t many numbers that tell you about the “care.”

Now I know we can look at the connections tab, or click to see expanded conversations to see where people interacted with or retweeted us, but these are all ad hoc. There’s no number on that tells you whether anyone actually cares about what you’ve been saying recently. Your followers could be used as an indicator, but again, this is only an indicator of how many people have, at some point, had a reason to follow you. There’s nothing current or real-time about it. That’s where we like to look at engagement rates as a much more important signifier of how many people care.

Listening vs. hearing

An engagement rate tells you very broadly how many people have interacted with you as a percentage of how many people heard something you said. The key difference between following and engagement rate can be seen in the same light as the key difference between people hearing you and people listening to you. You follower-base is the amount of people who can hear you: they may not care about what you say and, in all honesty, often won’t pay any attention at all because they’re just passively hearing something of yours. Your engagement rate is a much more realistic indicator of how many people are listening to you however: how many people are actively waiting on what you say, who hear something they like and respond to it, or who are (unsurprisingly) engaged by you. When you see it as listening vs. hearing, it’s clear that what we really want to build is not just the number of followers we have, but the engagement rate with those followers. Get an active, interested, invested audience, not just a wider pool of people who don’t really care.

Obviously the key question is why? My go-to analogy to answer this is to think about a high-street shop. Your followers are how many people know you’re there – they may be walking past on the street, have seen you on a map, or maybe even popped in before, but right now, they’re just the people who know you’re there. The engagement rate is your footfall through the doors – it tells you how many of those people who know you’re there are actually talking to your sales people or interested in your offering right now. And as any shop manager knows, the latter means nothing if the former isn’t there to support it.

Four simple tools

So then how do you go about creating that active, interested, invested audience? How do you increase your engagement rate? Well apart from the obvious advice of creating great content that is relevant to your audience, there are four nifty tools that will help you on your way:

  • this handy website shows you what hashtags are being used in conjunction with one-another. It’s great to see the shape of related conversations in order to get a general feel of how interest in one topic may translate to another. So, if you have a hashtag you want to talk about for example, you can use this to see whether there’s anyone else interested in a similar topic, and therefore whether there’s something you can add to their conversation to give more value than simply your brand message
  • this global map gives an indication of who and what is being spoken about in different regions around the world. This is particularly useful for local business-owners who may have a small, community led audience, as it will allow them to identify the key topics in that local area and react accordingly. However, it is equally useful for global brands, who may have seen that a trending topic is something that they’re particularly interested in and want to get a little more granular detail on where those conversations are happening for more microscopic details on useful content for that audience
  • it may be news to some people, and it may even be an abhorrent idea to others, but it turns out that not everyone is on Twitter all of the time! Tweriod is a great way of finding out when the people that you want to talk to are available to be spoken to. Again, it’s great to make sure you’re giving the right people the right content when they’re interested in hearing about it, as opposed to just creating white noise for people who don’t care!
  • really useful for identifying who in the ethereal Twitter-sphere is helping you out and introducing you to new audience bases, as well a looking at what content you’ve previously posted that was received well and what perhaps didn’t go down so well. Crowdbooster has many great functions, but principally allows you to evaluate what you’ve put out into the world so far. It demonstrates who retweeted you and how many people that retweet therefore reached to demonstrate exactly what content you’ve produced has worked well and was received by the widest possible audience. This allows you to shed light on who out there who’s interested in what you have to say can widen your exposure to similarly like-minded and therefore hopefully interested people