NEXT Analytics provides full access to Twitter data through their API, but people are often confused by how the information is organized. In this article, I will show a typical series of tweet interactions and how they get represented in the API.

First, I will focus on a specific Twitter screen name @mike61922 (with a display name of ‘privacy officer’). With that Twitter identity, I posted a message.

That message was then retweeted and replied to by another user.

Of course, their reply deserved a response from me, so I replied.

In addition, someone sent a direct tweet to me.

And finally, someone used TweetDeck to retweet my original message, but chose to edit my content slightly.

In Twitter, this entire exchange shows up like this:

Viewing the exchange from the Twitter API

There are three queries that can be run from the Twitter API that contain pieces of this exchange of messages.

 

My User Timeline

Their user timeline query shows all the messages I sent out. This includes my original message, which was retweeted, as well as a message I sent in reply to another screen name.

From this query, we can extract:

  • • How many new messages were posted by me
  • • How many of my messages were retweeted, and how many times
  • • How many replies to other people’s tweets did I post

 

Mentions of Me

The mentions of them query returns the messages that included mentions of my screen name.

From this query we can extract:

• A count of the mentions of me
• Retweet count of those mentions
• Profiles of the people that mentioned me, which includes follower counts

Note that this list may include mentions of me by me (e.g. my response to a reply)

Note that this list includes any edited versions of my original tweet – these are tagged as mentions even though they may begin with ‘RT @myscreenname’.

 

Retweets of Me

The Retweets of them query returns the messages that were retweeted, along with the retweet count. Note that this query shows the message that was tweeted, so the user profile information is of the original owner…me. It does not contain the profiles of the people that retweeted them.

From this query, we can extract:

• A count of how many messages were retweeted, and how many times each.

 

Who Retweeted Me

The Twitter API does not have a single query to extract the names of the people that retweeted a message, but NEXT has a workbook that get the information. Download the workbook.

From this report, we can extract:

• The profile information of people that retweeted our messages, including their follower counts

Note that although the message will appear starting with ‘RT @myscreenname’, it is a copy of our original message.

 

Summary

I hope this helps to clarify what Twitter considers to be a mention versus a retweet. If you are comparing the metrics from the API with the numbers someone has been manually tracking, be prepared to explain the difference between a mention that starts with ‘RT @myscreenname’ and a retweet that looks identical…it all has to do with how they posted it. if they could have edited it, it becomes a mention.