There’s a big change coming to your Twitter buttons: The tweet count number is going away by Nov. 20, 2015.
In this article, I will elaborate on what Twitter said, what the marketing community thinks, where this leaves us, and where we go from here. If you’ve been doing search marketing, you’ve already experienced a similar change when Google stopped reporting the search terms that lead to someone coming to a site.
Why Remove Tweet Counts?
In its official explanation of why this is happening, Twitter stated the share count “does not reflect the impact on Twitter of conversation about your content — it doesn’t count replies, quote Tweets, variants of your URLs, nor does it reflect the fact that some people Tweeting these URLs might have many more followers than others.”
Those are valid points. But, depending on your school of thought, to get the conversation started, you need to show a decent number of shares to get people to want to share it more. Say, for example, you have two articles: one with twenty shares and one with two shares. Readers are likely drawn to the article with twenty shares, thinking it must be good since it is being talked about more.
What Do Marketers Think?
I spoke with other digital marketers and read online discussions, to get a pulse. What I found wasn’t too surprising. Most believe the fewer the shares or the less engaged, the less the reason to care. The more shares someone had, the more he believed this was a travesty.
Most believe the fewer the shares or the less engaged, the less the reason to care. The more shares someone had, the more he believed this was a travesty.
An executive at a media firm made a good comparison. He said removing the Twitter share count was akin to the (not provided) change at Google Analytics, when it stopped providing search terms that lead to visits and interactions on a website. With “(not provided),” Google forced you into a specific tool and a specific way of seeing keyword data. Gone were the days of incredibly granularity and a laser-sharp focus. Now you can get a sense of the right direction, but you’ll never know for sure what search terms were used.
Many observers argue this is a similar step Twitter is taking. If you want to understand what content is working on Twitter, look at it on Twitter analytics, and understand it in metrics Twitter thinks are important, regardless if you think they are.
Where to Go from Here?
While knowing the number of tweets a product or article has is nice, it shouldn’t be the linchpin to your business. Removing the tweet count is similar to an algorithm update from Google. If you have quality content or great products, it will continue to be shared. People won’ stop tweeting. You may have to spend a few extra minutes on an attention-grabbing title, or on choosing a better snippet of text to accompany it. You’ll still see the conversation on Twitter.
Twitter could reverse this decision tomorrow. Other, third party methods of counting tweets may emerge. But prepare for the scenario that the counts will go away and then Facebook announces something similar the day after.
What is your view?