Using Twitter for data mining and information gathering isn't new. Most Twitter users effectively search for key terms using Summize, and for PR professionals this is almost a must-do these days to monitor your brand.
I regularly use Twitter (and other microblogs) to direct my "followers" to stories of interest, which can be pieces I've authored or news stories. But I have no idea if people actually like the stuff I post unless I get positive feedback (which I occasionally do). I do know that on sites where I have administrative control I notice a steadily increasing amount of traffic from these posted links.
One of the key tricks to posting links on Twitter is using a link-shortening service. TinyUrl was one of the first, but these days I prefer Is.Gd because it uses less characters. Less is more on Twitter because you can do more commentary.
But now there is a new link-shortening service that also has some incredible metrics built in. TwitClicks shortens your url, but also tracks everyone who clicks on it. This way you can see which stories actually attract the interests of your professional and social connections, and which ones are total duds. And hopefully improve on it in the future.
I tried it out a little on different sites and I was surprised how many people actually click on the stories I post. If you are reading this article from a link I've posted elsewhere, I used TwitClicks to do it. I was not surprised to see almost half of them come from Facebook and my personal site. But here is where it gets a little creepy.
In addition to the site that people click your link from, TwitClicks also tells you what browser they are using, their location, and their IP address. Using this information, they also estimate which specific Twitter user was likely the one who clicked on the link.
I can understand trying to fine tune my "tweets" to make them more popular. But do I really want to know which specific user is clicking on them, and what would I do with that information?
More importantly, now that everyone knows I can get that information, is anyone going to click on my links any more?