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Where did all my Tweet referrers go yesterday?

A small change from Twitter that could have big implications

Twitter referrers in GoSquared Trends analytics

One of the (many) neat features in GoSquared is how we show your Twitter referrers.

Most analytics services simply show traffic coming from “t.co” URLs which make no sense to humans. In GoSquared, we look up the “t.co” URL and grab back the full Tweet showing you exactly what was in the Tweet and who said it.

The feature is handy because it enables marketers and community managers, among others, to quickly see who’s sending the most traffic to the site, and easily follow those Twitter users back, and engage in conversation with them when it matters most.

What changed for GoSquared users?

For now, nothing. The changes we noticed have been reverted. But…

Yesterday we noticed that individual Tweets were not displaying in the GoSquared Now and Trends dashboards. Instead, all the helpful Tweet information was replaced by a single entry for “t.co”. Not very useful.

Currently, we’re not sure if this is a permanent and intentional change from Twitter. They have reverted the change since we first noticed it. The change happened without any prior announcement, so we don’t know their motivation (if any).

What did Twitter change?

Twitter, much like Google did a while back, started masking their referrals using referrer meta tags. What this means in real terms is that there was no way for the GoSquared tracking code to detect which Tweet sent a particular visitor to your site, only that they came via t.co.

As of this writing, the change seems to have been reverted, so you can again see all the Tweets that are driving traffic to your site. It’ll be interesting in the coming days and weeks to see if this rears its head again.

As always, please get in touch with us via email or Twitter if you have any questions.

Written by
JT is a co-founder and the lead front-end engineer at GoSquared. He's responsible for the shiniest of the shiny projects we work on.

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