15 Reasons Why Your Twitter Impressions Suddenly Dropped
Twitter is a platform all about visibility. You want to be seen, so your content can be shared, so you can reap whatever benefits you’re angling for. It might be personal reputation or awareness, it might be clicks through to your website, it might be sales. It doesn’t really matter what your end goal is: the process to reaching it is always the same. You post content, you get that content in front of as many people as possible, and you optimize from there.
So what happens if, day over day or week over week, you see your impressions dropping? Gradual decreases are one thing, but sudden drops can be terrifying. What happened? What did you do? Did something break? Is something wrong? All these questions shoot through your head in a matter of minutes, and worse, digging through analytics isn’t going to show you anything but that startlingly low number. So what happened? Here are fifteen reasons why your impressions might have dropped.
1. Your Content Got Worse
This is the obvious one. Maybe your content just… got worse. People don’t like it anymore. Whatever trend you were riding before, a new wave has risen, and yours is receding. People are leaving your account in favor of others; they just don’t care about what you’re posting. It’s easy to reach some peak level of exposure and grow complacent; after all, all those big brands rarely seem to try all that hard to optimize anything. When was the last time you think @Dog_Rates had to care about the timing of their posts throughout the day?
The fact is, if you’re resting on your laurels, you’re eroding your foundation. Sooner or later, it will wash out from under you, and then you have some major work to do to repair it.
Oh, and for the record, Dog Rates actually puts a lot of effort into their marketing, more than you might expect.
2. You’re Posting Less Often
To a certain extent, impressions are a numbers game. Your impressions are the number of people who are seeing your posts, usually divided by day or week or month, depending on your analytics view.
If you’re posting less often – going from three posts per day to two – you’re getting less content out there in front of people. Even if you only draw back one or two days a week, maybe just dropping the number of posts you make on the weekends, you’re still dropping that number. Fewer posts means fewer views on those posts, which means fewer impressions. It’s really a simple algorithm, right?
Now, this isn’t going to be the issue if you’re looking at per-post analytics. If your impressions per post is dropping, it’s likely for another reason.
3. You’re Posting Too Often
I said it’s a numbers game, but only “to a certain extent.” That extent is the break-even point, whereupon posting more often will hurt your account instead of help it.
How many posts from the same user can you see in a row before you get tired of them and move on? How many before Twitter’s basic sorting algorithm decides to hide them from your audience? Studies and accumulated knowledge suggest that the ideal number of posts per day on Twitter is actually closer to 15.
Of course, this varies entirely by audience. Some Twitter users make a name for themselves by posting lengthy and detailed threads every day, going into deep dives and great discussions. Others post jokes or memes a few times a day and do just fine. It depends on a lot of different factors, so it’s worth experimenting.
4. Your Post Timing Changed
Since Twitter is largely a temporal platform, with minimal algorithmic sorting of the content any user sees, timing is very important. You don’t have to contend with the algorithm so much as you have to contend with the habits of the masses.
Thankfully, you can pretty easily see when the peak hours are for your audience right inside Twitter’s analytics. Use that information to figure out when you should be dropping your posts, ideally just before the greatest number of people are online to see them. Post too late, and you’ll be at the bottom of tomorrow’s feed, where impressions go to die.
5. An Influencer Stopped Retweeting You
Some accounts attract high profile fans, and sometimes those fans are retweeting content they like on a regular basis. William Gibson is a great example of this in my mind. He’s a famous author with a quarter of a million followers, and the vast majority of his Twitter feed is retweets from various sources. If he likes a source, he’ll frequently tweet from it when it comes his way.
What if an influencer ceases to like or follow your content, or they determine their audience doesn’t like your content? They stop sharing it. Once that happens, all the impressions you were getting from their retweets disappear.
6. People Removed Their Retweets
There’s a sort of outrage culture on the internet right now, centered around Twitter and Tumblr. The basic premise is that everyone has to be perfect: digging up an old tweet that showcases some position or opinion you may have held, or even joked about, can hurt your current reputation. It’s a dumb, reactionary position to take, since people grow and change as they age, but it still exists.
A side effect of this culture is that if someone digs six years ago into your past and finds an offensive joke you made, a lot of people will suddenly decide you’re trash. They can block you, they can report you, they can remove their old likes and retweets, and so on.
Sometimes this just means a lot of people will start checking out your feed to see if you’re still at it, and may give you more impressions. However, the loss of retweets can, in the short term, hurt your impression count.
7. Twitter’s Sharing Algorithm Changed
Twitter may be a primarily chronological feed, but they aren’t completely without sorting and filtering. In fact, they repeatedly try to implement a Facebook-like sorting algorithm, and backlash causes them to keep the option to turn it off.
Still, a number of users actually use the sorted feed, so changes to that algorithm can affect your impressions dramatically.
8. Twitter’s Analytics Recording Changed
This is another case where Twitter making a change can have an impact on your numbers. Sometimes, they change the way they harvest data, or the way they define what counts as an impression, or even their sampling method for extremely large accounts. One of the biggest causes of a change in impressions is a change in how Twitter detects and filters out bot traffic. They don’t want people artificially inflating their metrics based on paid engagement, so they try to filter out data from accounts that are clearly suspect. If some portion of your impressions came from fake account, whether it was paid for or not, when they disappear, you’ll notice.
9. You Stopped Using a Good Hashtag
Hashtags are pretty important to certain subsets of Twitter. I know people that never use them or that only use them ironically. I also know people who spend basically their entire time on Twitter reading through hashtag feeds rather than their own home feed. It’s a way to see discussion around topics rather than just based on the personalities of the people you follow, and it’s a perfectly valid way to use Twitter.
So, if you changed the hashtags you typically use and stopped using a particularly good one in exchange for less popular tags, you can see your impressions dropping because of it. Thankfully, this is an easy fix: just do a bit more hashtag research before you post.
10. A Formerly Good Hashtag Stopped Working
This is similar to the previous issue, except it’s more likely not a change you made. Sometimes, hashtags lose favor, as the topic they’re discussing dies out. Trends are like that, and it means you need to chase the next trend to get your impressions back.
Sometimes, even evergreen hashtags will see dips in their traffic. In extreme cases, you can have Instagram-like issues with “shadowbanning”, but that’s actually very rare on Twitter. Twitter is one of the more NSFW-friendly social platforms out there, though it’s still strict.
11. Fake Followers Were Removed
It might not seem like fake followers could be the cause of a drop in impressions, but actually, it happens. It depends a lot on how the fake accounts are used. Many of them spend at least some time faking usage of Twitter as a normal platform, viewing a feed and taking a few basic actions just to avoid the obvious bot activity flags. If an account never does anything except visit specific profile URLs and follows them, it’s clear it’s a bot. If an account scrolls through a feed and occasionally follows a new account, maybe it’s just a person who likes reading but not contributing. It’s still not a great account, but hey, it’s adding to impressions, and when it’s banned, those impressions are lost.
12. Your Ad Campaign Ended
Now let’s get into the paid problems you might encounter. Some Twitter ad campaigns are kind of odd, in that you just tell Twitter to promote your account, and they pick which tweets of yours they circulate based on some nebulous criteria. It results in some very strange promoted tweets.
Any ad campaign where you’re promoting tweets, whether you picked them or the algorithm did, is a campaign where you’re getting impressions. As soon as the campaign ends, those impressions drop off. Make sure your campaigns are still running – or ended where you planned for them to end – to ensure there’s no problems.
13. Your Ad Was Suspended
In a similar fashion, if your ad campaign wasn’t supposed to end, there are a couple of reasons why it might have ended prematurely. One such issue is when an ad is suspended. Maybe it’s borderline acceptable and enough people decided to report it that it got suspended. Maybe some other issue cropped up, I don’t know, there are a ton of possibilities. The fact is, if your ad ceases operating, it ceases racking up impressions. That will be reflected in your analytics as well.
14. Your Ad Payments Bounced
Another possible cause for your ads ceasing to display is a payment issue. Payment is important for ads, so if your credit card is declined or your prepaid money runs out or whatever, your ads will cease to display until you can pay again.
I’ve had people panic when this happens, forgetting that their credit card expired and they needed to add in the new information. It’s a perfectly normal thing to have happen, just, you know, make sure you check to make sure it’s not a worse issue.
15. Your Account was Suspended
At the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe your entire account was simply suspended. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t check their account every day, you might have gotten a 12 or 24 hour suspension that ran its course before you even noticed it happened. This is pretty rare – you should have emails about it, and you should be checking your account more often anyways – but it can happen. A suspension will hide all of your content for the duration of the suspension, and that means zero impressions during that time. Thankfully, this should be easy to identify. Less thankfully, it’s not a good issue to have and to deal with.