A Twitter account is free of charge, but it’s still a significant investment of your time and energy. How can you be sure that investment is worthwhile?

“You want to be measuring your impact on Twitter to see that you’re getting the biggest bang for your marketing buck,” says Kirtarath Dhillon, social-media and public relations coordinator with Advisor Websites in Vancouver. Understanding your online data can also provide useful insights into your intended market.

Here are three steps to measuring your impact on Twitter:

1. Define your objective
Your first step should be to determine how you measure success on Twitter, Dhillon says, so you can monitor how close you are to meeting your objective.

Some financial advisors, for example, may wish to direct more people to their website by tweeting blog articles. Others might aim to build a large following so they can be considered an influential expert who might be called upon by the media to comment on financial issues. If you’re new to Twitter, your goal might be as simple as expanding your web presence.

2. Track your progress
While there are many online tools available to measure your impact on social media, Dhillon says, Twitter Analytics is a fairly basic and accessible way for all users to access their data.

For example, Twitter Analytics shows you how many impressions each tweet receives. Impressions are basically the number of times users saw the tweet on Twitter, so it is a great tool for tracking your visibility.

Another useful way to measure progress is to look at the number of engagements: how many times users have interacted with the tweet. By expanding on your tweet activity, Dhillon says, you can view a breakdown of how many people opened the link, clicked on your profile, retweeted the post or clicked “favourite.”

If your goal is to drive more people to you website, track how many people are clicking on your links.

3. Make use of analytical data
Increase your online engagement by tailoring your tweets based on information from your analytics.

For example, Twitter Analytics will list the top interests among your followers. If “sports” appears near the top of the list, Dhillon says, you know that sports references will be well-received by your audience.

Similarly, you can track consumer buying styles and incorporate these metrics into your tweets. If you know users are more inclined to buy healthy, organic food over fast food, you’ll likely gain more interest by using a photo of a green salad than a plate of French fries, Dhillon says.

“These subtle pokes can make sure that you’re hitting the right notes with your audience,” Dhillon says. “They really help with increasing visibility and eventually increasing engagement.”

This is the fifth part in a series on building your business with Twitter.

Next: Online tools to help improve your marketing efforts