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Posted by EricaMcGillivray

On November 20, 2015, Twitter took away share counts on their buttons and from their accessible free metrics. Site owners lost an easy signal of popularity of their posts. Those of us in the web metrics business scrambled to either remove, change, or find alternatives for the data to serve to our customers. And all those share count buttons, on sites across the Web, started looking a tad ugly:

Where's my shares?Yep, this is a screenshot from our own site.

Why did Twitter take away this data?

When asked directly, Twitter’s statement about the removal of tweet counts has consistently been:

“The Tweet counts alone did not accurately reflect the impact on Twitter of conversation about the content. They are often more misleading to customers than helpful.”

On the whole, I agree with Twitter that tweet counts are not a holistic measurement of actual audience engagement. They aren’t the end-all-be-all to showing your brand’s success on the channel or for the content you’re promoting. Instead, they are part of the puzzle — a piece of engagement.

However, if Twitter were really concerned about false success reports, they would’ve long ago taken away follower counts, the ultimate social media vanity metric. Or taken strong measures to block automated accounts and follower buying. Not taking action against shallow metrics, while “protecting” users from share counts, makes their statement ring hollow.

OMG, did Twitter put out an alternative?

About a year ago, Twitter acquired Gnip, an enterprise metrics solution. Gnip mostly looks to combine social data and integrate it into a brand’s customer reputation management software, making for some pretty powerful intelligence about customers and community members. But since it’s focused on an enterprise audience, it’s priced out of the reach of most brands. Plus, the fact that it’s served via API means brands must have the knowledge and development skills/talent in order to really customize the data.

Since the share count shutdown, Gnip released a beta Engagement API and has promised an upcoming Audience API. This API seems to carry all the data you’d need to put those share counts back together. However, an important note:

“Currently only three metrics are available from the totals endpoint: Favorites, Replies, and Retweets. We are working to make Impressions and Engagements available.”

For those of you running to your favorite tools — Gnip’s TOS currently forbids the reselling of their data, making it essentially forbidden to integrate into tools, although some companies like Buzzsumo have paid and gotten permission to use the data in their software. The share count removal caused Apple to quietly kill Topsy.

Feel social media’s dark side, Twitter

Killing share counts hasn’t been without its damage to Twitter as a brand. In his post about brands who’s lost and won in Google search, Dr. Pete Meyers notes that Twitter dropped from #6 to #15. That has to hurt their traffic.

Twitter lost as a major brand on Google in 2015

However, Twitter also made a deal with Google in order to show tweets directly in Google searches, which means Twitter’s brand may not be as damaged as it appears.

Star Wars tweet stream in Google results

Perhaps the biggest ding to Twitter is in their actual activity and sharing articles on their platform. Shareaholic reports sharing on Twitter is down 11% since the change was implemented.

Share of voice chart on Twitter from Shareaholic

It’s hard to sell Twitter as a viable place to invest social media time, energy, and money when there’s no easy proof in the pudding. You might have to dig further into your strategy and activities for the answers.

Take back your Twitter metrics!

The bad news: Almost none of these metrics actually replicate or replace the share count metric. Most of them cover only what you tweet, and they don’t capture the other places your content’s getting shared.

The good news: Some of these are probably better metrics and better goals.

Traffic to your site

Traffic may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie. You should probably already be tracking this. And please don’t just use Google Analytics’ default settings, as they’re probably slightly …

You can read the full article at Moz Blog

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Posted by EricaMcGillivrayOn November 20, 2015, Twitter took away share counts on their buttons and from their accessible free metrics. Site owners lost an easy signal of popularity of their posts. Those of us in the web metrics business scrambled to either remove, change, or find alternatives for the...