Creating Alerts from Twitter Searches

Last week, I briefly wrote about how I use Twitter. It prompted a co-worker to ask how I made use of it to “listen,” apart from the aforementioned Flipboard.

There are several tools — like Crimson Hexagon and Radian6 — that deliver comprehensive social media business intelligence. At a price.

If you are a non-profit or an SMB/SME, the price tag of a few thousand dollars a year probably puts such tools outside the range of affordability. Fortunately, Twitter’s free built-in search is actually pretty good.

Before launching into a discussion of the tool, I should say that listening is important.  Probably the most important thing (in social media and just plain everything). Before you make your first tweet, search.

Even a simple text search will reveal a lot, and in real time. But to really uncover the power of this tool, head over to Twitter’s Advanced Search page.

You can search hashtags, specific accounts, even sentiment, though your mileage may vary here. I suggest at the very least you search on your brand name, words that relate to your business and your competitors. The more specific your query, the better.

Saving a Twitter Search

Once you finish refining your query, you can save it using the gear icon in the upper right of the Twitter Advanced Search page. From then on, your saved queries will appear as soon as you start typing in the search box.

Creating an Alert from a Twitter Search

Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to easily create a Twitter RSS feed using the native GUI. You are stuck running the search manually through the saved search interface referenced above. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can still make one yourself by editing this URL:

Just replace “Your+Keywords+Here” with your own terms. Then subscribe to the feed using your favorite RSS reader such as Google’s.

The feed is not updated in real time but what it lacks in currency it makes up for in convenience.

I should add that Twitter removed the RSS feature intentionally so it is probably only a matter of time before this “back door” way of creating a feed is disabled.