Twitter is picking up steam. Because they are not a public company we don’t know exactly how many accounts and active users there are. There is plenty of speculation though. According to Alexa they are now the 12th ranked website in the world in traffic. This TechRadar articlepublished earlier this year claims they are nearing 500 million accounts.
So why is Twitter growing so fast? Because of its uniqueness and true value. While all the other major social networks keep adding this and that, Twitter just keeps chugging along at 140 characters a tweet. With the addition of Vine and cards, the stream has just gotten more interesting than before.
Here’s why I think every business person in the world should have a Twitter account – it is your 3rd ear. The two ears you were born with are great for listening to conversations within, earshot. But Twitter, now this tool extends your hearing around the world.
You can listen to any conversation happening on the social network anywhere unless it is coming from a private account – and who cares about those conversations anyway.
Here are my favorite ways to ‘listen with Twitter’.
A Tweetchat. Wow, you can eavesdrop on many conversations happening simultaneously by often very interesting people on any number of subjects. I wrote about the value of Tweet chats here a few months back. You can find a great directory of Tweet chats at Twubs.
Checking out the trends along the left side of the tweet stream. Is it any wonder that #royalbaby is trending at #4 as of this writing? By just glancing at the trends list you can get a sense of what’s happening in the world. If you want to check trends elsewhere, then just click the Change link next to the Trends heading.
Enter a keyword in to the search box and see what comes up. I entered in the keyword Advertising since I’m interested in that subject and found a whole column of interesting tweets I would have never come across on any other social network. Talk about diversity. I found an advertising job in South Africa and an article about advertisers in Tokyo imprinting ads on the thighs of young girls. Not kidding!
Check out one of your lists. Twitter allows you to categorize people in to groups aka Lists so you can quickly scan the tweets of just a few folks. I have a bunch of lists. One of my favorites is the one below. I get to keep in touch with just the right people with this list.
Notice the little lock? That means it is a private list and no one but me can see who is on it. Otherwise, lists can be public and anyone can see who the members are and even subscribe to it. You do not need to follow people to put them on a list. Think, My Competitors as a private list.
Keyword streams with geocode in HootSuite. Every time I explain this listening tool to businesspeople they get excited. It is so cool. With HootSuite you can set up a Twitter stream dedicated to the use of a certain keyword in a specific geographical area. For example, I coach people in public speaking but only face to face. So, I have a dedicated stream for public speaking in the San Francisco area where I work. When I see someone saying how nervous they are about public speaking, I can send them a link to one of my helpful YouTube videos. It is all about being helpful when starting conversations. If you don’t care about geography, then dedicate a stream to a keyword without the geocode.
The #Discover tab. On Twitter this is the third tab at the top. I think a lot of people skip over this one, but it is quite fun. It is like StumbleUpon meets Twitter. You just see an assortment of tweets that show actions being taken by those you follow. I clicked on it and found this tweet below, which features an expert I like featuring an article from an agency I like. Bam.
Now for the good part in case you do not have a Twitter account, but are intrigued by what you have read. You do not even need to tweet to take advantage of these listening tools. You can set up an account and follow others, or put them in lists, and just listen away. Do research, catch up on breaking news, find interesting conversations to join, meet new people from halfway around the world. It is all there if you will just, listen.
Let me know how you like to listen to Twitter in the comments below.
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