Tap the power of Twitter search around your brand or business. Learn about Twitter hashtags. Identify negative tweets about your company and questions in your niche.
I’m going to give you a quick Twitter research tutorial, in pictures. I’ve created screen shots that relate to my nonprofit, SCORE Chicago, to use as examples. SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business, offers free business counseling and inexpensive business workshops to entrepreneurs and small business owners. One of our most important keywords is “business plan.”
To learn who it talking about business plans near Chicago, I can run a search. I might use the Advanced Search Form or search query terms Twitter specifies. Here’s my search for tweets with our main keyword in the Chicago area:
SCORE Chicago could monitor these tweets and politely offer advice and help in response. If our organization had downloaded the free Tweetdeck tool, we could also save and rerun this search daily.
Using advanced Twitter search features like the one above, you can find relevant tweets by date range, keyword, location, even mile radius of a zip code. Learn all about the fine points of Twitter advanced search on this excellent link from Mashable.
A Twitter hashtag looks like this: #. On Twitter, these are used like keywords. They connect tweets and make it easy to find related tweets.
I want search for our main keyword phrase, business plans, using a hashtag. But it’s two words, not one. I check hashtags.org to see what formats people are using, and which is the most popular. You can do a search to identify the most popular hashtag version of your keyword, or use their directory.
The Past Month’s Activity graph of the Hashtags.org search shows that there is not much action on the #businessplans hashtag. Besides, if I want to find individuals who need help with their business plan, they are probably not going to use the term in the plural. So I try #businessplan.
Here’s another directory of hashtags in use, called Twubs.
You and your colleagues can create your own hashtag by adding #to your own keyword, like #mykeyword.
Learn more on how hash tags work in this post from Mashable.
Tracking Emotion and Opinion
Emoticons like :) and :( have moved from email and texting to Twitter. If users add them to their tweets about your brand or business, you can narrow your search to tweets with positive or negative feelings. Here are people unhappy about their business plan….
Of course, you can also locate tweets with a question mark, which might be a prospect in need of your product or service…
Want to get fancier about tracking behavior, sentiment and opinion? Learn about 7 Twitter Tools in Tweeting by The Numbers.
You might have noticed that I did not use “SCORE Chicago” as an example. Well, our business name is problematic for simple Twitter searches. It picks ups sports (Score: Chicago 7, Atlanta 2), the Chicago radio station “670 the Score”, and even a certain gentleman’s club out by O’Hare. Fancier social media monitoring tools like those above or SM2 are capable of more sophisticated filtering.
But for basic “ear to the ground” monitoring, Twitter is happening now and growing fast. Are you and your business listening?
Update: The New York Times ran a good article on November 11, 2009 called Follow the Tweets on using use of Twitter for business intelligence.