A colleague and I were recently tasked with reviving a client's stale Twitter account. The account had several hundred followers, but had not been active in months.
We wanted to find out what levels of engagement we'd see if we actively managed the account for a few months. So, since our project was not particularly scoped for active Twitter management, we needed to track engagement without 1) paying for expensive tools, and 2) unnecessarily spending hours manually tracking our engagement metrics.
Here are a few of the tools I've used to effectively track basic Twitter metrics. The idea here is to utilize free tools and remain efficient in regards to time spent on data gathering.
Metrics: Follower Count
First, you'll need a way to track follower count. Twittercounter provides a nice view into your account's follower trend-line, sorted out by each day. You can go as far back as three months. You can also add one or two other accounts, if you’d like to compare your trendline to someone else’s.
Metrics: Exposure, Impressions
Next, you'll want insight into the overall reach of your tweets. Enter your account's handle into Tweetreach, and it'll give you an exportable snapshot of how far your tweets are travelling. Using metrics such as "reach", "exposure", and "contributors", Tweetreach will show you which accounts have mentioned you (sorted by follower count) and how many times your account's handle has appeared in others' feeds. The only caveat in this free report is that the data does not reach back very far. You'll have to check in every few weeks if you want to capture this data over a long period of time.
Topsy.com will show you a trend-line of how many times your account has been mentioned over a selected time period. Retweets are included. You’ll want to remember that Topsy’s free service only allows you to look back as far as one month.
Possibly the most popular URL shortener, signing up for a free bit.ly account will give you access to a view of all of your created URLs. You'll be able to see how many clicks you're getting on each URL.
Individually, these tools are not capable of giving you very much data, but by using multiple tools, you should be able to pull a meaningful story together. Let us know in the comments if you’ve got any other recommendations or thoughts on free Twitter trackers.