Twitter is easily one of the most powerful communication tools on the planet today and it also happens to be a huge marketing tool for all the business owners in the audience. In addition to being a good broadcast channel and a means of engaging with your audience, it also offers a wealth of information about how people feel about your company. But how do you tap into that knowledge?
The Basic Twitter Search
This is by far the simplest way to do it. Simply go to the search page on Twitter and look up your brand, your company, your product, or anything else that you’d like to monitor. When you do this, it will bring up all the mentions of the keyword or keyword phrase, showing you all the tweets that talk about you.
With the basic Twitter search, you can use a number of search operators, just like how you would on Google. If you put your search inside quotes (“Company Name”), it will look for that exact phrase. You can also use the “or” operator, search in a specific geographic area (keyword near:city), filter for only questions (keyword ?), or filter for tweets only sent after a certain date (keyword YYYY-MM-DD). That’s really powerful.
Google Reader and RSS Feeds
What if you don’t want to go back to the Twitter search page every time you want to have a look at what people are saying about your brand? While it does not appear to be publicly promoted any longer, it appears that RSS feeds of Twitter searches can still be generated and utilized, as least for the time being.
The URL to the RSS feed of your choosing will take on this structure:
If you understand that structure, then you can tweak it to accommodate some of the modifiers described above. Just remember that certain characters will need to be recoded to be URL-friendly. For example, if you wanted to create an RSS feed that shows all mentions of @CompanyName, the address would be:
After you’ve figured out the URL to the RSS feed you want, you can simply subscribe to it in Google Reader or your choice of RSS reader. Then, you’ll always be in the loop for the Twitter search you define.
A New Column in HootSuite
One of my favorite social media dashboards is Hootsuite, which can be used to manage the accounts you have from several social networks, including LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare. You can create “columns” for all your mentions, direct messages, and Twitter lists, but you can also create columns for Twitter searches.
Just like the RSS feed idea, this means that you don’t have to manually perform the search; Hootsuite will automatically update the columns based on the interval that you define. So, each time you log in to send a tweet or read your mentions, you can monitor your brand (or whatever other search parameter you want).
Monitoring your brand on Twitter is great for damage control, proactively responding to customer inquiries, and for generally keeping tabs on how people perceive you. That’s important, as this feedback goes beyond just stats and lets you know if your social media marketing efforts really are working in your favor.