Twitter’s stock has been taking a beating recently, and there’s no shortage of opinions about Twitter’s decline (or lack thereof). What’s not up for debate is there’s a heck of a lot of activity that happens on Twitter. 255 million active users send out over 500 million tweets per day according to the company’s latest official statistics. That means there is a ton of content that’s shared through the social network every day. Making sense of that huge pipeline of content is the purpose of this post.
I’ve blogged before about organizing content via RSS with tools like Feedly. But for many, RSS is still too complicated, or at least takes more time to set up than many care to spend. That reality is part of what made me think about how to find content within platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Though it hasn’t taken the steps to become the content repository LinkedIn has, Twitter is still a great place to connect to lots of smart people who create and share lots of content based on specific topics. I think that’s one of the reasons why reporters use Twitter more than other social networks. The challenge with Twitter is how to filter things to find them. Luckily, taming the Twitter fire hose is not too hard to do once you dig into some of its functionality a bit deeper.
Per Twitter’s Help Center article, the #Discover tab “surfaces the best content from around Twitter and is personalized for you.” In other words, Twitter uses an algorithm to populate the #Discover feed with popular tweets in topics it thinks might interest you. To check it out, click on the #Discover tab. By default, it will show the Tweets view. Note: Clicking on any of the images below will take you to those locations on Twitter.
The Activity tab shows different actions by the people you follow on Twitter—which tweets they mark as Favorites, things they Retweet and new people or brand handles they’ve followed recently.
Near the bottom left side of the screen from the main view of your Twitter page, you’ll see the Trends section. It will show what hashtags and topics are trending at any given time. By default, Twitter’s algorithm are tailored based on who you follow, plus your location. You can see more details about how they work in Twitter’s Trends FAQ. As I was writing this, #BringBackOurGirls was a Trending topic. Clicking on the previous hashtag link will show you the most popular photos, followed by the most popular tweets on the topic.
Many people overlook Twitter Search functionality, so don’t feel bad if you do too. In my view, it’s probably the most powerful functionality built into Twitter. With a simple tweak or two, it’s especially useful in finding people and brand handles you should follow. You can easily save any Search or Trends topic by clicking on the Save link near the top right corner of the Results view.
For those of you who work for a company that maintains a corporate blog, it makes sense to connect with customers and fans who are sharing your blog content. Twitter Search (search.twitter.com) makes it pretty easy. All you have to do is to enter your blog’s web address in the Twitter Search bar. By default, it will show you the Top tweets of people that shared content from your blog. You can easily filter that list to show all tweets by clicking on the All button. Here’s the Twitter Search results for our WCG Common Sense blog. Either click on the previous link, or click on the image below to see the results.
Beyond the trending topics, you can use the gray search bar or go to search.twitter.com to find specific hashtags or topic areas. Here’s the search results for #BigData. It defaults to showing the Top tweets, but you can easily switch to all tweets by clicking on the All hyperlink near the top of the screen.
Here’s the single tweak that makes Twitter Search immensely useful:
- Click on the People option near the top left corner of the screen.
Doing so will show you a list of people and Twitter handles who are driving that conversation. Here’s the #BigData People filtered list. I’m betting you’re not following many of the people driving the conversation. I know I sure wasn’t when I initially looked at it.
If it’s a topic you’re interested in, spend the time to click the Follow buttons. Following the right people is the key to Twitter. It’s something I’ve said for years when people ask me about using the social network: the value you get from Twitter is directly tied to the quality of the people you follow. Spending a few minutes doing Twitter searches around topics you’re interested in, filtering for People and following those people will pay huge dividends.
One opportunity that Twitter’s missing here is the People filter would be even more useful if it would let you add those people to Twitter Lists. All it would take is adding an Add to List button just to the right of the Follow button from the People view. Personally, I find Twitter Lists really useful, but the process to create them as it stands now is way too manual and tedious.
Any thoughts or tips about finding good content topics and the people driving Twitter conversations around them? Would love to see your thoughts.