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How to Benchmark Audience Growth Rate on Twitter

How to Benchmark Audience Growth Rate on Twitter

How fast are you growing? Where are you seeing lulls in growth? What are your competitors doing to fuel their growth and make their target audiences pay attention? And the question on everyone’s mind…Is that growth rate good?

In an effort to help you keep track and set reasonable benchmarks, lets take a look at some of the analysis you can do on Twitter to understand your audience growth rate. Here, we’ll break down the major performance categories you should take into consideration when putting together or revamping your benchmarking process. I recommend compiling each of these components together to make reporting to management and proving success easy as pie.

Benchmark Based on Competitive Performance

To play well, you must know the field you’re playing on. Where are the painted lines, the perimeters? Where are the hidden rocks under the grass, lurking and ready to trip you up? And which kind of games have been played on this field in the past? Set up reasonable goals for yourself by getting a good sense of what your competitors have been up to, and what you need to do to keep up with – or surpass – their social media performance.

Step 1: Run a competitive report.

Know where you stand by doing some competitive analysis on the big guns in your field.

First, decide how you’re going to choose who’s “competitive” with you. Are you going to choose competitors to analyze based on sales, social media popularity, or something else? Maybe you even want to form two competitive lists based on different criteria – it depends on your field.

Next up, recognize that you have two choices: you can narrow down the competitors you’re measuring yourself against to 1-3 brands, which gives you a streamlined data set to work with and forces you to choose which of your competitors are truly worth focusing on…

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Or you can run analysis on every brand in your competitive purview, which gives you a more holistic perspective and a wide-spectrum idea of what kind of audience growth you should be aiming for (and how to achieve it).

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Step 2: Pick out what’s important to you. 

What does audience growth mean to you, besides just your follower count going up? The future of social media marketing might require your definition of audience growth to, well, grow.

Understand the growth trends for your sample set.

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And pay attention to the different elements that may be impacted by each brand’s change in audience size. Is a particular brand’s Klout score growing? This could signal an increase in influential audience members, and a more meaningful level of growth.

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Does a specific brand’s growth mean the more eyes on their content, and more people engaging with it?

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It’s important to make these correlations, so you understand the true value of audience growth – it makes everything easier for your brand as you move through this process.

Step 3: Set a goal – and keep tabs on it. 

Once you’ve chosen what I’ll call your growth criteria, it’s easy to set goals around them.

I recommend running reports on your growth criteria on both a monthly basis and month-over-month basis, which allows you to measure the success of individual campaigns and how they’re contributing to overall growth, as well.

Benchmark Based on Previous Performance

Step 1: Before and after. 

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Everyone loves a good before-and-after visual. A basic way of beginning to benchmark (say that three times fast – phew!) is to highlight what your Twitter follower count looked like before and after a specific campaign.

Step 2: Decide what is reasonable…

…And set a specific goal. Don’t just run a contextless report after your campaign’s over. Set a transparent goal of hitting a certain follower count, engagement rate, or Klout score. Then showcase your results at the end of the campaign period.

You might find that you’ve set too aggressive a follower growth goal, but that your engagement rates have gone way up, or vice versa. This gives you another opportunity to redefine what growth means to you.

Step 3: Redefining. 

If you do hit your audience growth goal, set more aggressive goals next month – but only if you’ve got a plan in place to produce those numbers. There’s no use setting the same growth goals if you don’t have a similarly awesome campaign in place to achieve them.

If you haven’t hit your audience growth goal, it’s time to scale back and dive deeply into the campaign you ran to discover why it wasn’t as successful as you hoped. This is a great time, too, to go back to your competitive performance review and figure out what they’re doing to drive audience growth that you’re not.

Benchmark Based on Aspirational Brands

Step 1: Who is doing it right?

What kind of speed in audience growth is reasonable for your brand? Compile a list of compatible brands (i.e. same size, same demographic, or similar messaging) that you admire, and run individual reports to figure out what they’re doing right that you can emulate.

Step 2: Set a goal with it.

Say you’re a global brand that’s seen a lot of wins but also a lot of PR crises in the past year. You might run a report to see what Target did on social media in the past year, and try to emulate their strategy (with a healthy dash of your brand’s special flavor, of course).

Step 4: Keep tabs on it.

Keep measuring your success alongside that of a brand you emulate within compatible timelines.

For instance, if Target saw incredible follower growth or engagement growth within the past six months, and you’re starting your campaign now, set your report to run on a monthly basis and compare your month 2 to Target’s month 2 as you go along.

This will help you see where you’re on track and where it would be best to rethink your process and/or content.


I recommend combining a taste of each of these benchmarking tactics. Try all of them for a month, and then figure out which one’s are most useful to your industry, your situation, and your brand. What benchmarking tactics do you use when it comes to Twitter? Measure them all with Simply Measured’s complete set of Twitter reports. Click the link below to learn more!

Learn More About Twitter Analytics

Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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