If you use Twitter share buttons for your pages, you may notice that your Tweet count is no longer being displayed. That’s because Twitter recently dropped the feature that displays the number of times your page has been tweeted on the popular social network. However, there is a reason.
Back in September Twitter announced that they would be deprecating the current button and releasing a new one. This caused a lot of people to flip out because you would no longer be able to display how many times your page was shared on Twitter. Many rely on these numbers to boost credibility by showing social proof, a concept that is highly popular for marketing your knowledge and services.
Why Twitter dropped the Tweet counter
The reason Twitter dropped the feature was due to wide scale technical changes on the microblogging platform. Clinging to the Tweet count button was hindering the growth of the system. In fact, by the end, the Tweet count API was the only part on the legacy system.
As Twitter points out, the Tweet count API was not officially part of the public API. It also didn’t accurately reflect the social spread of your page. Twitter Group Product Manager Michael Ducker points out that “replies, quote Tweets, variants of your URLs” were not counted by the Tweet counter. The popularity of those people who share your page was also not factored in.
Despite these facts, people still abused the system. Facebook Likes are purchased in bulk to short cut and cheat visitors into thinking a page or post is popular. The fake Likes are spam that has no purpose other than to increase the appearance of popularity for substandard content.
The same has been done with Tweets. Rather than create good content, individuals and organizations game the system. They fill their accounts with fake Likes, Retweets, and followers, which in the end does nothing more than give them a completely false view of their own popularity. But, that’s a rant for a different post.
What should you do next?
As of now there is no word on when and if the Tweet count will return. Given the lack of support for anything other than a straight tweet of your exact URL, it may not be as big of a loss as it seems. After all, the only purpose it really served was to impress visitors. Anyone using it to gauge their own popularity was doing it wrong. For real insight into your content popularity, you should be using Twitter’s Analytics service.
Twitter Analytics provides various information on the popularity of your Tweets, the audience you are working to attract, and even comparison information between the data they pull. This can be very valuable to your marketing efforts, since the information Twitter tracks can show you what gets the most traction. I’ll give you an example.
When we tweeted about cleaning three hacked WordPress websites that had over 5,000 infected files, Twitter tracked how many people saw the tweet. It shows that information to us to let us know how well the tweet penetrated the Twitter audience. When we posted via @ACWPThemes to ask which WordPress caching plugin people used, Twitter tracked statistics to show us how engaged people were with that tweet compared to others from us in November.
Using the Twitter Analytics service is free, and provides a much more detailed and accurate look into your content. Twitter still provides a way to pull Tweet counts via the REST API, which services like OpenShareCount.com are working to make easier for users to implement.
At Asheboro Creative, we prefer Twitter Analytics. The level of data it supplies is important for content marketing. If you don’t already use Twitter Analytics, go check it out. It’s easy to use and gives you a much better picture of how your Tweets are performing for you.