They want to show engagement. They want to show reach. They want to, ultimately, show influence.
But the process can be maddening, because each service has its own rules and its own data. And often, it's collecting far more than is exposed in the traditional user interface. Perplexingly, the most popular and well-funded social networks are poor at providing basic information to business customers.
Demographics Pro, which U.S. startup Schmap launched on Friday, won't solve all your problems. But it might give your sales team the numbers it needs for its next presentation deck, and that might be precious minutes saved.
The service is pretty simple: plug in a Twitter account handle of interest (yours, your brand's or a competitor's), pay a fee (anywhere from $30 to $400, depending on the amount of number-crunching) and get fairly granular data on the gender, age, income, location, profession, ethnicity, interests and brand affinity for your followers.
For example, I discovered that, for my personal account @editorialiste, the average age of my audience is 33 years old, 55 percent are male, and those people make, on average, about $70,000 per year. They're based predominately in New York (where I'm based), San Francisco (per my technology focus), Philadelphia (where I'm from) and London (where I like to visit).
You can see a screenshot of some of my results above. Unsurprisingly, my followers are interested in technology more than any other topic, though I've got healthy populations of people interested in politics, business, fashion and the arts. (I've got no explanation for the basketball-interested crowd.)
On another screen, I found that a plurality of my followers are journalists and "sales/marketing" -- translation: public relations -- with a strong showing from senior managers, writers and entrepreneurs.
The utility of this service will depend on who's using it. I'm most interested in my followers' occupations and basic demographics; others may be more interested in the "brands" section, which estimates how strong your audience's affinity for major brands -- from Starbucks to Urban Outfitters -- is, though I found this section too vague to be useful. (This paragraph about my followers felt more actionable: "As consumers they are affluent and fashion conscious, with spending focused most strongly on technology, wining/dining and entertainment." No numbers, but feels right, in my experience.)
The company says it uses algorithms to crunch proprietary data across four general focus areas -- network, consumption, language and physical appearance -- though it doesn't say where it comes from. At any rate, it's better than what Twitter offers brands today, and it spits all of this information out into your choice of an Adobe PDF report or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
And that's just it, really: the company is taking advantage of Twitter's lack of enterprise support. Will the market opportunity close up when the social network decides to get in gear? Quite possibly. Until then, Demographics Pro might be a cheap way to bridge the gap.