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https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/8695/monitoring_7-blog-third.pngTwitter is Econsultancy’s largest and busiest social channel. At time of writing we have about 125,000 followers there, and are growing consistently. 

Keeping an eye on all the activity there and looking for useful opportunities takes up a substantial part of my day, and while there are a number of paid services that can update me and keep me supplied with reports, I also like to check in realtime throughout the day. 

I thought I’d quickly run through the various searches I have in place so that you can set up an effective realtime monitoring station...

Before we begin, let’s run through a few caveats.

Econsultancy’s brand terms are fairly narrow.

If you’re a business with multiple brand names and terms (let’s say someone like The BBC as an example), then you’ll definitely need to invest in an enterprise level monitoring solution (luckily we have a guide to help you, isn’t that handy?), but if you’re a small to medium business or someone in the C-suite who just wants a general idea of what is going on, then this should be more than enough to get you started. 

Step 1: Fire up your system of choice

There are lots of sytems available, but for this I'd recommend either Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.  I actually use both, I like Hootsuite for scheduling but I just prefer Tweetdeck’s look and API controls for regular monitoring. Either works. 

In addition to @Econsultancy, I also have my own account, and accounts for @ComeToJUMP, @The_Digitals, @newmediaage and a couple of random test accounts running, so I have a LOT of columns.

Don’t panic, you won’t need all of these! 

Step 2: Insert your automatic core columns. 

When you add a new Twitter account to either of these tools, they’ll give you the option to add some ‘core’ columns.

Usually mentions, all friends, and Direct messages. Bang these in to start with.

Hootsuite also lets you add ‘sent messages’ and ‘sent DMs’.

Think about these. Do you really, really need them? 

Step 3: Add primary term searches.

Next up, add a search column for your brand term.

While Twitter’s ‘Interactions’ or your ‘mentions’ column will get most of these, they will miss a few out (unless you have access to the full Twitter firehose).

Running a search column next to this will show you more conversations.

In this screenshot you can see how each column is displaying slightly different information

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/8685/monitoring_1-blog-full.png

Step 4: Isolate conversations for reply. 

Feedback and engagement are your homeboys on Twitter, so while mentions and retweets are great, you’ll also want to filter out real conversations and questions from your audience. 

Luckily, Twitter search recognises a number of qualifying terms, including the “-“ (minus) sign. So if I add a search that looks like this: 

"@Econsultancy" ? -RT –http

Twitter will remove all of the RTs and any tweets with links attached from this column.

While it isn’t complete, I’ll start to see questions in isolation

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0002/8686/monitoring_2.PNG

Now I can quickly and easily up my engagement.

This is especially useful for us as we get a high volume of retweets (which is great by the way – keep it up!), and sometimes these can get lost in the mix.

We have a global audience too so this column means I can quickly review tweets from the previous night when I get into the office and respond if needed; a late response is definitely better than no response at all. 

Step 5: Tag, you’re it. 

You got it – it’s #hashtag time. I’ve got mine arranged by account and group (You should definitely be using #TheDigitals more often by the way...), and tend to add in extras as I go along.

I monitor a lot of events that often overlap, so don’t forget that you can view more than one in a column if you find that your dashboard is struggling to keep up with too many columns: 

“#ComeTOJUMP” OR “#TheDigitals”

It’s also worth thinking about searching for your brand term as a hashtag.

It’s surprising how many people will use these (Especially if they can’t recall or find your @name).

We also have a slightly confusing brand name. We’re Econsultancy, and while Twitter isn’t case sensitive, it can’t pick up variations like “E-consultancy” (we also get e-consultancy, eConsultancy, e-Consultancy...), so think about possible variations people might use and add them in as well: 

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0002/8689/monitoring_5.PNG

Step 6: Get your house in order.

We’ve added a LOT of columns, and you might find that your platform is struggling a little to keep up.

At this point, stop and have a think about which columns you really need.

As an example, many brands might not actually require their ‘all friends’ column, especially if you use Twitter primarily as a customer service channel, so get rid of anything you don’t use.

In Hootsuite, organise the search streams by Twitter account or function to save time: 

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/8687/monitoring_3-blog-full.png

Step 7: Reach out and touch someone. 

Finally, let’s think about outreach.

We already know that Twitter responds to search qualifiers, so we can start to think about ways to reach potential customers, and do a little trend spotting and general social listening in addition to our monitoring. 

Econsultancy run a lot of training courses, so this might be a decent place for us to start.  

Just “training” will be far too busy, so we need to narrow it down so we can be more relevant. Let’s go by course type – social media for example.

Here are results for: 

social, media,  "social media", help, OR anyone, OR suggest, OR need, OR training OR how ? -http –www

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0002/8688/monitoring_4.PNG

Still slightly random, but we can continue to narrow that down easily enough.

Adding in location will help, and more query words.

Again, using “-http” at the end is stripping out links so we aren’t seeing other training orgs who send tweets like ‘need help with social media training? Visit dodgysite.com’ .

Using a question mark at the end of that search query also limits the search to  people asking a question. 

Once you’ve settled on a query string you can change out the main descriptors for different results. So we could try:

B2B OR marketing AND anyone, OR suggest, OR help, OR how OR do OR I, OR BtoB Marketing, OR advice, OR need OR training ? –http

Or tweak it for a different type of content and go with:

"Content marketing" AND "B2B" OR "Examples" OR "tips" OR "Help" OR "Ideas" OR "Strategy" OR "Trends" OR "Case study" OR "research" ? –http

There’s room there for us to spot people looking for stats, reports, training, events, blog posts and more, and while we can’t reply to them all we can step in periodically and answer questions in a way that really help build our reputation and inspire conversation. 

Here we’re using Twitter as a data store rather than a stream, so even if there’s a delay in your response, you’ll still be able to contact some promising leads. 

Finally, a bit of social listening. Here’s a search I stole from @Lakey:

"love this" OR "amazing" OR "fantastic" AND marketing http -youtube-rt

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0002/8690/monitoring_6.PNG

Lots of amazing links to content people really love that you can share. 

To get an (rather sobering)  idea of how useful and powerful this kind of search is for research, replace ‘love this/amazing/fantastic’ with ‘hate/terrible/disgusting’  and ‘marketing’ with ‘war’ and compare the results... 

This is just the start, but combined it should give you a realistic overview of your brand and market.

The searches I've described here are the simplest iterations, so think about query strings and check trends regularly. Remember, people don't search on social the way they do on search engines. In many cases, they are looking for very specific information. 

You can also add competitor terms in on top to expand this, and best of all it won’t cost you a penny (but will suck up your attention...).  

Think about the kinds of queries that relate to your industry at large and the type of content you have available.

This is micro-targeted content marketing, and while it won’t have the same impact as your press materials, it has the advantage of being 100% relevant every time

I’m always interested in learning more about monitoring, so if you’ve got any other top tips for Twitter (or social in general) then please do let me know in the comments.

Matt Owen

Published 6 February, 2013 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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Ste Smith

Excellent article Matt. Time to roll out Tweetdeck I think and add some polish to our social media monitoring and marketing.

over 3 years ago

Wendy Soucie

Wendy Soucie, Global eBusiness Social Media Manager at Parker HannifinEnterprise

I use lots of Tweetdeck and a little Hootsuite. I am ready to kill a few columns and add some directed search terms. With the little trick you showed in the search I will be much more focused.

over 3 years ago

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Dan Bowyer

Solid tips. Like muchly. Well written too. Although can't agree with you on Tweetdeck ;)

over 3 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

What can I say Dan, I'm an aesthete.. ;)

Seriously though, there was talk recently of the plug being pulled on Tweetdeck so probably best to use another platform if you're just getting set up.

over 3 years ago

Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

Great tips. Econsultancy subscribers can access our Twitter best practice guide for businesses.

http://econsultancy.com/reports/twitter-for-business

over 3 years ago

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Simon Sanders

Excellent tips and I endorse these fully!
I regularly use isolated columns to identify conversations and have on a personal note used them to find last minute "spare XYZ ticket" for events including long-since sold out or hard to get tickets. Successes include Arsenal v Barcelona, highly sought after Olympic events and Kraftwerk at the Tate. To ensure I see things and can act quickly, I tend to also tweak the notifications settings so that new posts that match the criteria flash up over the top of other open programmes.

over 3 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Great idea Simon! Will be setting that search up for a few upcoming gigs - very useful :)

over 3 years ago

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Jonathan Bowker

Just as I was starting to experiment with Bolean queries on Twitter search I found this article via Linkdex blog. Thanks for a clear explanation and really useful tips.

Do you know if there is a miximum length a query can be?

over 3 years ago

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Livecommerce

Thanks for a clear and useful explanation!

over 3 years ago

Scott Williams

Scott Williams, Search Marketing Specialist at Wilson Cooke

Great article, thanks for the tips. I use both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck for the same reasons above, but they both have drawbacks. Scheduling on Tweetdeck isn't great, and Hootsuite I find is generally slow (plus the fact it doesn't give desktop alerts/ notifications is quite annoying).

over 3 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

@Jonathan - I have no idea, column searches limit your query length to 140 characters, but I believe you can make longer ones directly in search.twitter.com, and you could probably set up a Boolean rss feed that was as long as you liked.

over 3 years ago

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Neil Coomber-Webb

Great

over 3 years ago

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