When Twitter first started, the Public Timeline flowed at a manageable pace. I never spent much time monitoring it, but if you were a reasonably quick reader, you could keep up with it. Now the flow of the Public Timeline is so fast, it would be unsafe to raft down. Youâ€™d disappear beyond the horizon in seconds and would never be seen again.
The big buzz, the sound of the greater Twitter conversation, is impossible to follow. Thereâ€™s too much going on. Too much being said (in some cases way too much is being said).
This is why we follow specific people; it allows us to narrow the flow and filter the sources of the rushing torrent of tweets. â€œIâ€™ll read what you have to say, and these other two hundred or so peopleâ€”but thatâ€™s about all I can manage.â€
Butâ€¦what if thereâ€™s someone you donâ€™t follow that you really should?
What if there is someone out there with the same interests as you, the same passions, the same sense of humor in a different timezone and, possibly a different country.
One of the great things about Twitter is that it allows you to discover these people.
An easy way to do this is through saved searches. Saved searches allow you to be alerted to people you donâ€™t know and donâ€™t follow when they tweet about something that is of interest to you.
The link in the previous paragraph takes you to Twitter’s own page on how to create a saved search1 but I would like to spend some time explaining why you’d want to do such a thing and tricks for applying saved searches in special situations.
Once you get a search that is returning great results, saving it (by clicking Save This Search)Â allows you to come back and check on it. Many Twitter clients2 allow you to follow your saved searches like a Twitter stream unto themselves. But first you have to get the search to return those good results.
You have to be clever.
Do a search for â€œStar Trekâ€ and you will find another flood of tweets too torrential to take in. But do a search for â€œStar Trek DS9â€ or “â€œStar Trek” Spock” and youâ€™ll find just the tweets that talk about that specific show or that show and one specific character. A slightly more manageable stream.
Another example is a saved search I keep going; I dig Mac computers. The problem is, there are a lot of people who dig Mac Cosmetics, Mack Trucks, Mac & Cheese and various other Macs that arenâ€™t made by Apple Inc. and interest me far less. For this reason, I have to tweak my search criteria with â€œ-truck -cosmetics -cheese -Freddieâ€ just to make it easier to find the tweets of people who dig what I dig.3
Search for people “in the mood”
You can also search by mood. And, no, Twitter doesnâ€™t have some crazy biorhythmic technology that can read usersâ€™ emotions as they type.4 How do you tell your followers that your tweet is meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek? You add a â€œ; )â€â€”well, so does everyone else andÂ that is searchable! Search for : ) , : ( , >:^O or any other emoticon you can think of.
Got answers? Search for questions.
Add a â€œ?â€ to your search and youâ€™ll get nothing but people asking questionsâ€¦ questions you can possibly save the day by answering. Social media gurus5Â always talk about “adding value”, well answering someone’s question is the easiest way to do this.
Search for linksâ€¦ or don’tâ€¦ totally your call
Quite often you want to search for tweets with or without links in them. Maybe you want to find the videos that are going viral right now. Or maybe you’d like to see if Guy Kawasaki ever tweets anything that doesn’t link somewhere else.Â ((I know this technique works, but the sheer volume of linked tweets from Guy causes this search to fail))Â Easy to do. Add filter: “links” to see links and “-filter:links” to exclude them. There’s also a tab in #newtwitter to look at only link tweets more easily.
MOST IMPORTANT: Search for your fans
If youâ€™re in business and represent a brand (especially if that brand is you), this isnâ€™t just helpful, itâ€™s mandatoryâ€”start saved searches for your brand, your name, your company and your products and give attention to the people who are talking about your bread and butter. You can thank those that speak well of you and reward them for their positive testimonials and lend aid to those who speak badly of your product and win them back.
If your brand is you, youâ€™re looking for your fans. How amazing do you think it would feel to be @ing with your friends on Twitter talking about your favorite musicianâ€¦not using his @username (maybe you donâ€™t even realize heâ€™s on Twitterâ€¦and you call yourself a fan!) and then suddenly some stranger jumps in to the conversationâ€”and itâ€™s HIM!!
Itâ€™s nice enough getting an @reply from someone you admire when you @mention them directly, but itâ€™s crazy exciting getting a reply when you didnâ€™t know that person cares to listen in. Itâ€™s amazing. If your fan seems nice and doesnâ€™t trip your stalker alarm and want to put the cherry on itâ€”follow them.
You can do this without hardly any effort with a saved search.
- basically, you do a search on Twitter and then look for and click the Save This Search button [↩]
- programs that run on your desktop computer or mobile devices [↩]
- I still get people talking about Big Macs, but this does help filter a bit of the noise [↩]
- not yet anyway [↩]
- Ã¬ É‘Ê not É‘ Ê‚oÏ²Ã¬É‘Ó€ ÊÒ½dÃ¬É‘ guÉ¾uâ€¦ but I will help you with it, if you like [↩]