Most people’s instinct when joining Twitter is to start tweeting, but I recommend you start by listening on Twitter first and never stop listening. It is an amazing real time tool for listening.

Why Listen?

There are numerous reasons for listening especially when you are starting out. You might want to determine your target audience persona, who are the influencers on your chosen topic and how are they contributing value. From this initial exercise you can develop the keywords and trends that relate to your goal for being on Twitter and determine how you can feed your target audience fresh content.

If you are using twitter for business purposes listening can help with specific market research, you can keep track of your competitors, find out industry news quickly and even evaluate suppliers.

Twitter Search

There is a surprising amount of information that can be discovered using the native Twitter search tool. Plain text queries can turn up lots of valuable information about what people are talking about right now. But wait there’s more!

Many people when they first start out using Twitter search abandon it after a few searches because frankly, it is frustrating with the ‘quick’ search ending up with too many results. The volume isn’t just the problem, it is the fact that it is hard to find what you are looking for. There is, however, an extremely under-used capability which lets you go even deeper than just plain text queries.

After you have done an initial search query and you get your results there is a drop-down menu (top right of search results) that lets you move to advanced search. Here’s where you can now start searching Twitter like a pro.

You can add or take away words or phrases in a search or include hashtags. You can select a language or accounts you want to include that have either tweeted, were the recipients of tweets or were simply mentioned in a tweet. If you are looking for geo-targeted data, you can type in a location and select a distance within a 1000 mile radius down to 1 mile.

You can also do Twitter advanced searches by using operators within the standard search box. Remember, once you execute a search you can save it for future listening.


Another great way of using the twitter search function is to use Hashtags. Hashtags are words or phrases prefixed with the symbol #.  Using a hashtag, you can check out chats and discussions on things that are of interest to you (keywords, topics etc.). A great listening tool is a stats site that evaluates each hashtag and provides you with usable data based on how popular it is and when it’s used most often.


Twitter lists are a great way to monitor and listen to different groups of people.  You can create private lists which no-one else can see. Twitter lists are a way of staying current of what’s going on in your market, keeping track of your customers, competitors and key influencers. Twitter lists allow you to ‘listen in’ to key people without even needing to follow them.

Take a day off of tweeting and just listen to the amazing real-time stream of information Twitter provides. Notice people. Who catches your eye? Who and what do you seem to pay attention to?

Using the Power of the Twitter Listening can help make your twitter experience more successful.

In my next blog, I will examine developing a social media strategy.

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