Finally! A way to use Twitter
Everybody talks about Twitter. Some people claim to love it, others hate it. Some claim to be able to use it effectively to bring their organisation's message to market. If you are not one of the Twitterati, how do you get started?
At The Wheel we have been looking at the rise of Twitter with some trepidation and interest, wondering how our organisation can harness this growing phenomenon. It's all very well to say "twitter allows you to have conversations with people", but how does one get started? Following one's own friends and family is easy. However, how can you find out who is interested in hearing about what you have to say?
During this period of research, head-scratching and observation, we came across a couple of tools to help us out.
These tools make Twitter make sense.
Twitter's Excellent Advanced Search.
The fantastic Twitter Advanced Search is well hidden. I could not find it on the twitter home page and had to use Google to find it (I typed in twitter search).
But just to save the pain, it lives here: http://search.twitter.com/advanced
The advanced search is very flexible and allows you to hone in on a particular keyword search phrase in a certain language in a certain timeframe within a specified distance from a certain specified location.
So, if someone mentions the word "charity" within 200 miles of Athlone, we can find out.
And to top it all off, once you get to the results page, you can view the results of this search as an RSS feed, which means that you can subscribe to it.
End result is that your RSS reader of choice, Firefox, Thunderbird, iGoogle or whatever, will display new results as they happen, without any further interference from you.
Twitter Conversation Tools
So now you know who is talking about your chosen term. A list of disembodied tweets can be a bit daunting, not to mention confusing. Even going to the tweeter's home page often reveals little. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to see a whole conversation at at time?
Well, there are some handy tools to just that.
Twonvo is an online service which pulls together a conversation from Twitter once you feed it a "conversation ID or status URL". There are detailed instructions on exactly what these are at twonvo.com.
Or, you could use this clever little bookmarklet, which does essentially the same thing from within the comfort of Twitter itself. Don't know what a bookmarket is? Don't dispair. All is explained within!
So now we can find out who is talking about stuff that matters to us, and we can read the entire conversation to get context, so we can decide to follow people who are relevant to us. And best of all, whenever we mention someone in our tweets, Twitter will alert them!