Your Twitter Weekend Homework: Monitor Your Keywords

Last week’s homework was to create a list of keywords to monitor on Twitter (don’t worry, you can catch up if you didn’t finish it last week). This week, your Twitter homework is to get down to monitoring those keywords so you can keep up with what’s going on in your niche.

There are thousands, probably millions, of different conversations happening in real-time, right now, on Twitter. And if you want to get the most out of it, you’ve got to be able to listen to those conversations that affect you – and block out the ones that don’t.

Last week, you created a list of 5 to 10 keywords that defined your niche – like “social media”, “#socialmedia” and “Twitter”. Now, you’re going to create a keyword monitoring schedule so you can keep tabs on what people are saying about these topics.

There are two distinct ways to monitor keywords on Twitter: using a dashboard or using Twitter’s advanced search.

I recommend using a dashboard if you aren’t already, as it’s a fantastic tool not only for monitoring, but for scheduling, reading, and replying.

Using a dashboard like HootSuite or TweetDeck, you’ll want to set up one or more columns to display the keywords you defined last week. In HootSuite, for example, click the “Add Stream” button above your current columns and choose the “Search” tab in the resultant popup window.

In the text field, try typing just one of the keywords you created, and click “Create Stream”. Now you’ve got a column that will display all tweets in near real-time that contain that keyword.

If you’re comfortable using, you can go even further to refine these search results. Operators (the full list of which is here) like AND, OR, “@” and filters can be used to really specify a niche. For instance, if you wanted only social media-related tweets that contain links about Twitter news, you might want to search for “social media AND Twitter -Facebook filter:links”. Play with the advanced search fields here, but get to know the operators too: you will need these if you want to really filter keywords in your dashboard.

Using Twitter’s search is great for a one-time check-up on what people are talking about, but it’s not something that’s useful for continuous monitoring. You’d have to copy+paste your search phrase from a document into the search field every time you wanted to monitor your keywords. However, using a dashboard, you’ll have those keywords and operators at your fingertips at all times.

If you head back to HootSuite and create a new stream, you can now use the operators you learned over at Twitter’s advanced search to define a more specific keyword monitoring column. Rather than just “Twitter” you can now use operators to specify whether you want positive or negative sentiment, links, or specific users to appear in the stream. This is immensely useful, as it’s important that you filter in only the tweets that are particularly relevant to you.

Whether you use a dashboard or Twitter’s advanced search, I recommend scanning your keywords at least once a day. This will keep you plugged in to the conversation, and will ensure that you don’t miss a beat on one of the most-updated networks out there.