You must have noticed that some of the best and brightest are using Twitter as a powerful listening tool. As Peter Drucker once said, and we paraphrase: it’s not only important to listen to what your customers say but also to your non-customers.
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again – Twitter is the place to really listen.
…And monitor and learn everything about your industry, customers, competition and influencers. Some might call it stalking, but it’s a vital activity.
So why is Twitter our preferred listening tool? There are a few reasons for that:
- Twitter gives you real-time results. We all know how important timing is and when it comes to breaking news spreading online, the reach on Twitter is immediate. With Twitter’s search you can get a quick pulse of what’s going on, what people are talking about and what is trending.
- Twitter has a really wide reach. This is no surprise, but when you take a moment to wrap your mind around the fact that there are millions of people active on Twitter daily, it shows you just how valuable the channel is.
- Twitter gives you the direct feedback you need. You get to hear what people are saying…as they are saying it.
Here are some tips on how to monitor your own brand, yourself, your competitors and relevant industry keywords.
#1 Monitor what matters
To you and your business that is. Just because you can monitor just about anything on Twitter, doesn’t mean you should. Choose the information that is vital to your business – industry keywords, competitors names, customers’ feedback, your name and the names of influencers in the industry.
Setup twitter searches using the terms that are important and save that search. Here’s how to do that:
- In Twitter, type your search query in the search box, click enter and then click Save at the top right corner. You can save up to 25 different searches per account.
- To revisit your saved search, click in the search box and scroll down to saved searches or if you remember the name of your search query simply start typing it.
- You can remove a saved search by scrolling down to saves searches and clicking on the “x” button to the right.
- You can also embed a search by typing your search query into the box and the clicking the ellipsis (•••) at the top left, electing Embed this search. Next, follow the instructions to create a search widget for your website.
And then you can get really technical and use Twitter’s advanced search tool and save the output of that. You can use this to search various keywords and keyword combinations and filter the results of your search. We think the most useful is the ‘place’ option which allows you to target a specific area.
#2 Find the best tools for monitoring
There are so many Twitter tools that it could be quite a challenge to pick the right ones. We suggest you start with ether TweetDeck or HootSuite and take full advantage of the columns. You are able to have multiple columns to arrange the important data in a manner that is meaningful for you. You can see your retweeted tweets, direct messages, shared articles, important lists and saved searches in an easy to digest manner.
These free tools allow real-time monitoring in a really organised way and this helps stay on top of what matters to you.
#3 Find people that matter to you
With Followerwonk you can search for people by keywords in their profiles. You are then able to get a sense of who is influential and decide who to follow and monitor including your competitors.
And in case you are only just starting, use Twellow to find people to follow and monitor. However, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect search tool. Many times you will discover the most interesting connections organically in a Twitter conversation.
#4 Use URL shorteners to track
It’s important to be aware how popular your shared links are. And we’re not just talking about retweets, favourites and comment which you see in your Twitter Notifications Tab. The popular URL shortener bit.ly for example allows you to track the number of people clicking on your link. This can give you good feedback on how well certain content is doing, what time of the day is most active for your account and whether you need to think of better CTAs.
#5 Follow # hashtags
Perhaps one of the simplest search tools, #hashtags are used to link your content to a relevant industry, topical conversation, place, regular meeting, TV programme, sport, trend, etc. People follow these many different hashtags so that they can track that conversation.
To track hashtags in the web based Twitter, simply use saved search as in tip 1. Or in an application like Tweetdeck save the #hashtag as a column.
You could use Hashtag.org for detailed statistics. Also, if you have found a hashtag that you’re not sure what it stands about, go to What The Hashtag and search for it – it’s an encyclopedia for hashtags, edited by users themselves.
#6 Monitor people with Twitter lists
One of our favourite Twitter features which saves time and helps us monitor exactly who we want to. You can subscribe to public Twitter lists, but we also recommend creating your own lists – public and private. You can set up as many lists as are useful to you, i.e. a list of prospective clients or a list of influencers in your industry. You can have a private list of competitors in your area and monitor what they are talking about. It gives you a tremendous amount of insight and helps you stay focused on exactly who you need to focus on. You can also set up RSS feeds to follow others’ Twitter lists.
#7 Analyze your twitter account
We really like a tool called Unfollowers this gives you real insight into who is following you, who you follow, their profiles, activity etc. etc.
#8 Analyze other twitter accounts
Once you have identified the best people to follow, use a tool to find out more about those that follow them. We recommend Followerwonk for that task – it’s a free tool that allows you to compare your Twitter profile against another (which could be your competitors’). Not bad! You can identify the people who follow them and look at their own data, such as social authority, follower counts and Twitter bios. This data then helps you work out who’s worth following and who’s the most influential in your niche.
And just because we are feeling extra generous today. Here are two more tools that you can use:
- Tactics Cloud – for finding specific users, adding them to a list and exporting it to Twitter.
- Mention.com – for smart monitoring using alerts, or as we’d like to call it – a good replacement for Google Alerts.
Monitoring competitors, keywords and influencers on Twitter needs to be done with a specific goal in mind of course – to improve your content strategy, to manage your social media better, to find more prospects, to grow your brand’s authority or to nurture relationships in social communication.
Social engagement isn’t about having the most perfectly designed interaction with each retweet and at mention being ever so carefully crafted, it’s more about being human and creating relationships through social media.
Make sure you interact and adapt your approach according to your Twitter listening and monitoring activities.
What do you monitor on Twitter? Or what would you like to monitor? Got an idea? Let us know…