To Lure Advertisers, Twitter Inc. Makes a Bigger Bet on Analytics

My Twitter analytics for @milehighfool. Credit: Twitter.

Add Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR  ) to the list of companies betting bigger on data. Last week, the microblogger introduced a new dashboard for studying the impact of organic tweets.

"For the first time, advertisers will be able to see how many times users have viewed and engaged with organic Tweets, so that they can more effectively optimize their content strategy," Twitter's analytics product manager, Buster Beeson, wrote in a blog post announcing the feature.

A new term for your buzzword bingo scorecards
"Content strategy" has become a popular term in recent years. Rather than overtly market to or pitch consumers, companies are now using social media, blog posts, and related "content" to demonstrate their uniqueness in hopes it'll be shared widely. The resulting brand boost should help to boost sales, or so the theory goes.

Twitter's new dashboard caters to true believers by showing them how everyday tweets perform in hopes of sparking follow-on ad campaigns. It's a worthy idea, and it comes at an interesting time. In May, Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM  ) combined software acquired from Radian6 and Buddy Media to create what it calls Social Studio, a suite of tools for team to collaboratively develop and publish content to social networks.

Content strategy in action
For example, say you're working with a movie studio in the months leading to Oscar season. You might use Social Studio to monitor for and respond to tweets and posts about your client's film to build buzz. You might also use the tool to check response data in order to better understand when, and to whom, you should market the DVD and Blu-ray when it's available.

Could Twitter aspire to one day offer something as sophisticated as Social Studio? Credit: Salesforce.com.

Social Studio is a new product so it's unclear just how much impact the software is having on results. Yet this isn't a minor-league effort; Salesforce wraps Social Studio into a suite of offerings it calls the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, named for the marketing company it acquired for $2.5 billion last June.

Why investors should cheer
Twitter's offering isn't nearly as sophisticated. Yet it doesn't need to be. Even a little intelligence about what matters to followers should be enough to help brand advertisers do more with their ad dollars, leading to more spending, and for Twitter, more growth. Advertising accounted for 90% of revenue in the first quarter.

In that sense, adding analytics -- even simple analytics -- is a step in the right direction. For Twitter, which has seen its shares drop over 40% year-to-date, that's about as good as it gets right now.

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