A Twitter use case – special research

twitter for research listening in on people's conversation“What’s the use of Twitter?” is a question I get regularly asked, particularly by those who have only just recently signed up and cannot see any point in the whole thing. That is an experience for pretty every one when first signing up to the service.

However with time that view changes, Twitter is a very powerful tool indeed but the usefulness is a bit obscure and not obvious. One of the complaints is a cluttered timeline after someone starts following more than 100 or 200 people. Twitter lists come to the rescue in this scenario.

Twitter for highly targeted research

There are many different use cases for Twitter and while I was busy with a very specialised project I suddenly realised this would be a great blog post to explain what I had just done. First let me explain the background.

If you know a few things about me, you might  know that I am originally from Vienna, Austria. This week I had the exciting opportunity to be in a conference call with an Austrian Inbound/Content Marketing agency who are based in Vienna with some interests in South Africa. It didn’t take us long to realise we have a lot in common and could potentially work on some projects together and who knows what else the future might hold.

In order to be in a better position to work with them I realise I need to understand the Austrian market much better. I have been in “exile” for some 17 years and am far removed from day to day life over there.

The easiest way to start learning about a culture is to find its representatives on Twitter. (Tweet This)

I have done many such researches before and find the insights invaluable.

Special search criteria

I headed over to Followerwonk, a fantastic Twitter tool by Moz.com, and did a specific search for users on Twitter. My criteria were

  • users whose location was either Vienna or Wien,
  • who had more than 1,000 followers and
  • followed themselves less than 1,000.

This will result in a list of users who use Twitter in a similar fashion than myself, as those are stats I’d fall myself into. These are people who have some sort of influence (very vaguely only based on number of followers/following) at least they’re active on Twitter.

Then I quickly glanced through the various profiles, Followerwonk very conveniently pulls in all the bios, and decided who looked interesting to me to follow. I then went ahead and put them each on a private Twitter list I set up for this specific purpose. Note that I did not follow any one of them, yet. I just added them to that list for now.

Insights from listening

Why and what am I going to do next? Well, I just want to get a feel for what some people in Vienna are saying on Twitter. Whenever I have time and am in the mood for these tweets I will open the list (Tweetbot on my iPhone makes that super easy, and Tweetdeck or Hootsuite on desktops), read through the stream, get a feel for who these people are and what they’re saying and then over time I will start following them and perhaps add them to some of my other interest lists or take them off the list if I find their info not useful.

I will find links to what’s happening in Austria right now, what’s hot and what people are talking about. I will get a bit of a feel for the language again (it’s quite shocking how much you can lose of it when you don’t speak it regularly even if it’s your mother language!) and most importantly in my particular case (as I have also followed specifically some marketers) will get a feel for my industry over there.

I hope this example of how I am using Twitter specifically, among many other reasons, will give you some ideas of doing some research and “listening in” on your own interests! You can search for specific keywords in bios, locations, etc. Give Followerwonk a try, it’s a great and easy to use tool.

Leave a comment for any questions and more importantly perhaps some of the researches you came up with so more readers can get more ideas!

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