How can I use Twitter as a listening/monitoring tool?

Twitter is a microblogging service on which users can share updates that display in reverse chronological order. Professionals often share updates on publications, speaking events, and events or news relevant to their industry on Twitter. It is possible to gain situational awareness by setting up Twitter as an effective monitoring tool and “listen” to online conversations relevant to you.

Who To Follow
Over 200 million Twitter handles (i.e. profiles/pages) exist and all are easily findable via Google search by typing the name of the person or entity and “Twitter” (e.g. “Melinda Gates Twitter” or “LexBlog Twitter”). Regardless of how “active” you are on Twitter (how many Tweets you share or how often you check Twitter), there are specific types of people (and entities) you should follow. Make a list of the following types of people and add them as followers (you can do this a little bit at a time, like one group per week):

  • Existing clients - both corporate accounts and individuals
  • Potential clients - in the industry
  • Influencers from client industry(ies)
  • Influential Legal Professionals in Your Field (the current “go to” people)
  • Anyone else not listed above that is in your current professional circle/network

Ways to Monitor
Seeing unfiltered updates from Twitter accounts you follow often results in having to sift through less relevant content in order to really get a sense for the types of updates specific followers are sharing. Within Twitter are a few ways to monitor more purposefully.

Twitter Lists - Find or Make
Lists are groups of Twitter users. Each “list” displays a list-specific timeline for the group of users within that list. Lists can be “public” (any Twitter user can find, see, or follow) or “private” (only you can view). Lists are very useful to break people you follow into more relevant groups, perhaps by industry or relationship to you. Importantly, Twitter users get notified when they are added to a “public” list but not a “private” one.

Twitter Search Function
You can search on Twitter for any word, phrase, or terms and Twitter will show you a list of tweets containing the phrase as well as possible matches for people (if applicable) to that term. This is great if you are looking to see if anyone has commented on a particular issue, for example, searching for “IRS Law” will show you some tax law-related tweets as well as recommend the “IRS” Twitter account to follow. The search function is a good way to monitor what is being said about you or your company as well.

Hashtags, set in a tweet by adding a “#” in front of a word, are user-added callouts to keywords or topics. It is another way to track ongoing conversations around a particular event, story, and/or idea. Updates by all Twitter users containing the same hashtag show up on a page that you can scan.

Advanced Tools
To more quickly monitor Twitter activity on your desktop - including lists, searches, hashtags, users, and more - LexBlog recommends using a tool like TweetDeck, an organizational tool created by Twitter.

Other Actions and Next Steps
The act of monitoring is an important first step. As you continue to monitor, you will likely be inspired to comment on a conversation or a particular update shared by someone. In Twitter, replying to tweets or retweeting is a way to begin engaging as people discuss topics or ideas. Beyond Twitter, you can leverage what you learn by sharing and commenting in more detail on your blog. Engaging on Twitter or through your blog using information read on Twitter are both ways to demonstrate you are listening and aware of the latest conversations, as well as what your thinking is on a particular subject.

Save Individual Tweets for Later Sharing
You can “save” individual Tweets in a couple of ways. First, each Twitter update or conversation has a unique URL that you can bookmark or save in a post draft on your blog. This URL looks like and can be found by expanding an individual tweet or conversation and clicking “details.”

Second, you can add a tweet to your list of favorites by clicking “favorite” below any tweet. That tweet will automatically show up in a favorites timeline in your profile, like a list timeline but for individual tweets.

Embed Tweets in Blog Posts
You can easily embed an individual tweet into your blog by pasting the text URL of the tweet (not hyperlinked) in your blog post. It will display in your post as an interactive screenshot (your blog visitors can click links from the tweet). This is great to use if you are commenting on a specific tweet or recalling a series of tweets.

Retweeting is an active way to share content and/or add short commentary without writing a blog post around a tweet. By clicking “retweet” in Twitter, your followers will see the exact original tweet, with the original user’s information. You can also copy a tweet and add “RT @OriginalUser” at the beginning so your followers see that it is coming from you but from another source. In front of the “RT”, if there is room, you can add some comments about the update, e.g. “Great article!” or “Big news.”

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