Social Media Marketing for Beginners #3: How to find relevant conversations on Twitter

by Matt Burgess on May 25, 2010

Social Media Marketing for Beginners is a regular column on this site, in which we discuss the fundamentals of marketing in the world of social media for businesses. As the name suggests, this is a column for those looking to get their toes wet for the first time, although even if you’re already experienced in the social marketing world… well – despite what they tell you – you certainly can teach an old dog new tricks. To keep up to date with this series, be sure to subscribe to our free updates.

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Social Media Marketing for Beginners #3: How to find relevant conversations on Twitter

Here’s a quick post that will give you actionable advice for Twitter that you can employ today. So read this, and then go do it… don’t wait!

A lot of people have read my “Listening and Brand Monitoring” post – which was part one in this series of “Social Media Marketing for Beginners” – and as a result, I’ve received a lot of feedback on what worked, or didn’t work, for individual businesses. One of the questions that I’m asked most often is:

We’re listening on Twitter for our brand name, but not enough people are talking about us yet. How do we find conversations that are relevant to our business, but that don’t mention us specifically by name?

If this is you, then fantastic! I love the fact that you’re ready to proactively go out there and look for conversations that are relevant to your business, rather than just reacting to those that are out there already. The great news for those utilising Twitter in their social media outreach, is that it’s actually incredibly easy to go out and find conversations relevant to you and your business.

First off, we’re going to use our old friend, twitter search, which can be found here: search.twitter.com. If you’ve read the “brand monitoring” post, you should be familiar with how this works already: basically, you enter in the desired terms that you want to search for, and twitter search will return tweets that mention the relevant key terms. Easy, huh?

Now, here’s where a bit of lateral thinking is called for. Instead of simply entering in your brand terms, start thinking of questions that people might ask that are related to your business, and – importantly – how they might be asking them. Here’s an example of what I mean…

This is a search, on search.twitter.com, for the query: “anyone know” plumber.

Twitter search

You see what we’re doing there? We’re looking for people who obviously need an answer about plumbers. And, as you can see, there are plenty of people that need help right now. Could your business be the one to help?

Of course, you’ll want to make sure your time isn’t wasted, so be sure to include either a geographical term within the query itself (such as “Melbourne”), or used the advanced twitter search to add a locality to your query.
Now, a caveat to this post… don’t expect to be blown away by the number of results here in Australia, at least just yet. For example, if I run a search for the query “anyone know” london hotel as opposed to “anyone know” sydney hotel, you can see that the London query returns several results, while the Sydney query returns none… it’s all about adoption rates at this point.

But, just to prove that it still could be of use to businesses here in Australia, take a look at the search results for “anyone know” melbourne

People in Melbourne need help!

Look at all those people who need help in Melbourne… do any of those cries for help apply to your business?

This week’s task

Spend some time brainstorming how people might phrase questions in conversation, and how you could monitor this in channels like Twitter. Some examples to get you started would be queries like:

  • “anyone know” melbourne hairdresser
  • “can anyone help” sydney plumbers
  • sydney dentist help

Of course, the list goes on… it all depends on how creative you get, and – more importantly – how your customers think. And, you know that… right?

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