Listening to Twitter

Listening to Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Twitter has changed search and has also changed the meaning of the term “up-to-date”. This is no longer waiting until the next scheduled news cast. And forget the newspaper. Even Google is not that fast. And who needs to read a whole page when you can get the gist of what’s going on in 140 characters. Alright, I went to far with the last one. Reading is good and something I wish I had more time for, but my mission to carry a library around in my head is doomed to failure.

With search engines, results are ranked by various algorithms. With Twitter search, results are ranked by now. This is a very notable difference and a reason why Twitter is the best choice for some search queries.

To Look for a Job

In today’s economy, it’s probably best to get the freshest job listings. That way you can be there first to put in your application. And Twitter helps.

To Track Pandemics

People tweet about everything, including sicknesses but not everyone goes to the doctor right away. There has to be a way to use this data and yes, there is.

To Beat the Paparazzi

I had to throw this one in there, because so many people are interested in celebrities. Tweets are faster that blog posts or TV shows and you can get the information right from the horse’s mouth. And as I was searching for a list, I found a site dedicated to celebrities on Twitter. Obviously, not one of my uses.

To Satisfy Curiousity

If you aren’t sure what to track, throw a random word out like “library” and see what people are saying about it.

And, as I was writing this article, looking for other articles, I ended up at Digg and ran into the Diggbar, which I never saw before. Since it’s new, I wanted to find out what people thought of it as well as what it was. I went to Twitter. Using Google, I would have ended up most likely at blog. And because of Digg’s popularity, a highly ranked blog (see algorithms above) and being a highly ranked blog, I would probably read a spiced up press release. With Twitter, I got real, I got now and I got more than one opinion.

To Find Potential Customers

Google Adwords works with Google search. Someone looking for something enters terms in the search box and hopefully, if you chose your keywords correctly, you will gain new customers by placing ads with Google.

With Twitter, you may be able to reach people before they search, when they are just venting, when they are throwing their issue out into the Twittersphere hoping for help. You can be that help. Ads aren’t a conversation. Twitter is.


To Help Existing Customers

I bitch about things on Twitter just to test the waters and see who is out there. I am amazed at which companies don’t care or don’t know what people are saying about them via Twitter. But other companies, like Comcast, which I bitched about once, do, despite the fact I did end up switching from Comcast.

To Find Customer Feedback and Use It

Sometimes, what your customer’s can say about your company and it’s products on Twitter is better than what you can say yourself. In fact, you better hope this is true, because people will talk about your products anyway. But if the word is good, you might as well use it to your benefit. Example: Skittles

To Find Competitor’s Feedback and Use It

If a lot of people really hate a competitor’s product, you can use Twitter searches to your benefit and gain more customers. Example: We All Hate Quickbooks

Some Ways to Use It More Effectively

If your goal is to listen, then you need some tools. You could open a whole bunch of tabs on your browser, but there are more effective ways.

Of course, this is not all the ways you can use Twitter search, but I had to end this post somewhere.

What do you use Twitter search for?

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Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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