Measuring Twitter Reach and Engagement

Sarah Baughman, Ph.D. (@programeval,

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a micro blog that allows users to send short, 140 character messages to followers and others interested in a particular topic.  Currently there are 516 Twitter accounts reported in the eXtension People application indicating that Extension faculty and staff are using Twitter professionally.


Like other social media tools, Twitter offers a way for Extension personnel to increase their educational and programmatic reach as well as engage with clientele.  It takes significant time to maintain a successful Twitter presence but fortunately there are some great free and low cost tools for measuring your reach and engagement in Twitter.  Reach refers to the size and demographics of your audience somewhat similar to Facebook “likes” or “follows.”   There are a number of metrics you can use to help gauge your Twitter reach including number of followers, number of tweets and who follows you.  You can get the number of followers and number of tweets from your Twitter account page.  However you can also get a “reach” metric from several tools.

I primarily use two different tools for measuring Twitter activities.  The first is TweetReach ( which offers a free and a paid subscription to measure your Twitter activity. TweetReach allows you to run reports on specific accounts or hashtags and generates nice reports on accounts reached, total impressions, activity, top contributors and most popular tweets.  The paid version will also allow you to create “trackers” for more than one twitter account or hashtag.

Screenshot from TweetReach Report











I also use an Excel Analytics for Twitter add-on available for free download at  It provides similar information as TweetReach in a nice easy to read lay-out.  It also generates reports on time of day and sentiment.

Screenshot from Analytics for Twitter Report







The key to using any of these tools is to generate reports regularly as Twitter has a time limit on how long it keeps tweets. So as you begin to measure your Twitter reach be sure to track your metrics consistently over time.  It is also important to spend some time examining who you are reaching.  As you gain new followers take the time to look at their accounts so you can get a sense of who is following you.  Is it your traditional clientele or people from your community?  Are you reaching new types of clientele such as a more urban audience or people from outside your immediate community?


In addition to tracking your reach you should also measure engagement.  The tools mentioned above give you a sense of how often you are being re-tweeted or mentioned which are good engagement metrics.  You can also calculate an amplification rate by dividing the number of retweets by tweets.  So for instance if you have 20 tweets this month and 10 retweets you have engaged with others resulting in a 50% increase in reach.

Using Reach and Engagement Metrics

Now that you have some tools to track your reach and engagement don’t forget to use that information.  Obviously it can be helpful for reporting and accountability but you can also use the information to figure out how to improve or change your twitter activity.  Having 500 followers is great but are they engaging with you? Are they all family and friends or new audiences?  What kinds of tweets are retweeted the most?

For more information on measuring reach and engagement with Twitter please see this eXtension 60 minute webinar

This article (Measuring Twitter Reach and Engagement) was originally published Friday, October 12, 2012 on the Evaluation Community of Practice blog, a part of eXtension.   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Facebook Insights for Extension Educators

By Sarah Baughman, PhD Virginia Cooperative Extension

This is the second in a four part blog series on evaluating Extension social media activities.  This post focuses on the basics of how Extension educators can gather data from Facebook. Facebook can be a great tool for communicating with your audiences and for educational programs.  The best way to find out if Facebook is working the way you hope is via Facebook Insights. 

Facebook Insights is available to all administrators of a Facebook page.  To access insights, go your page and in the Admin panel, click on See All under Insights.









This brings up the dashboard for your Facebook page.  It is a treasure trove of information and it is worth spending some time reading the guide from Facebook:

It is critical to understand why you are using Facebook and what you hope to accomplish as you start gathering insights. Are you using Facebook primarily as a communications tool for existing audiences? Or do you have an educational purpose?  Understanding what you hope to accomplish will help guide what data you want to examine in Insights.  The data should tell you something about how you are progressing or not progressing towards your goals.  For example, if you are primarily communicating with clients, you will want to look at basic metrics such as likes, total reach and delve into your page posts.  If you are using it more for educational programming, you will want to explore engagement metrics such as comments and sharing. 

The most important aspect of evaluating social media efforts is to gather consistent data on a regular basis. One Extension agent started using Facebook to communicate with teenage members of her 4-H program.  As she began to collect data and examine the demographics of who was using her page she realized that it was the parents of her 4-Hers following the Facebook page.  Consistently gathering demographic data over time helped her understand her audience and change her communications accordingly. 

If you are a data nerd or find that you want more information on how your page is performing, Facebook also offers the ability to download even more data into an excel spreadsheet.  For more information on downloading Facebook Insights data check out this webinar

Author: Sarah Baughman (@programeval,

This article (Facebook Insights for Extension Educators) was originally published Friday, September 14, 2012 on the Evaluation Community of Practice blog, a part of eXtension.   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Introduction to Evaluating Social Media for Extension Professionals

By Sarah Baughman, PhD Virginia Cooperative Extension

This is the first in a four part series on evaluating social media for Extension professionals.  Social media use among Extension professionals has increased significantly over the last few years and anecdotal evidence indicates more and more time is spent on social media activities.  There are currently over 3000 social network accounts listed on for Extension professionals ( and events such as agchat, gardenchat and other Twitter chats include an Extension presence. 

As the eXtension Military Families Learning Network evaluation specialist I have been exploring how to evaluate our social media efforts.  Our communities of practice (CoP) use social media extensively to engage audiences, reach new audiences and build relationships. The MFLN and its CoPs can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.  One of the most common requests I receive is how to evaluate social media efforts. 

I encourage Extension professionals to approach evaluating their social media activities like they would any other activity or program.  First, remember that social media is primarily a tool that can help improve your educational programming.  Occasionally social media may be a stand-alone program but in general it is used as to enhance an existing program.  As with other programs, begin with the end in mind.  Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish with your Facebook page or Twitter account.  Are you trying to reach new audiences?  Do you want to build relationships with other professionals in your community?  Are you trying a new way to reach existing audiences that may be heavy social media users such as teens and young adults?

So the first step in evaluating social media is to clearly define your purposes and what you hope to accomplish.  This may even help you decide which social media channel to use.  Choose your metrics based on your purpose and track those metrics regularly and consistently.  I have found it useful to keep spreadsheets with our metrics that I update at least monthly to help track changes over time.  I also do “spot checks” sporadically throughout the month to catch any big events that may occur, such as a retweet by an account with lots of followers on Twitter or a lot of shares from a Facebook Page.

My next posts will cover the specifics of getting started with measuring specific social media channels.  If you have specific questions related to evaluating social media please comment or email me.

Author: Sarah Baughman (@programeval,

This article (Introduction to evaluating social media) was originally published Fridday, September 7, 2012 on the Evaluation Community of Practice blog, a part of eXtension.   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.