How To Twitter: The Secret Power Of Listening And Searching

Filed in Twitter by on October 15, 2009 2 Comments


The real (secret) power of Twitter is in listening

Two ears and one mouth

When I  was a child, my mother used to tell me that God gave me two ears and one mouth. As a result I should do twice as much listening as I do talking.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with my mother or not,  this is great advice as you begin to use Twitter.

If all you did on Twitter was listen to the current conversation between key businesses and professionals you would harness 80 percent of its effectiveness.

The power of Twitter is in the listening – not the tweeting. The tweeting ability is powerful – but it pales in comparison.

Eavesdrop in real-time for opportunities

Many people claim that Twitter is full of people talking about the mundane things going on in their lives. Many people will post what they had for breakfast, where they are or  who is with them at the moment. But what business people miss in all of this is the opportunity this kind of information presents.

Think about it for a moment. For the first time in the history of the world you are able to eavesdrop on people’s everyday conversations. If you are knife salesmen, you can listen to who is talking about knives – right now! That’s a powerful tool.

The cable company Comcast actually uses Twitter to find the people who are complaining about their service and then reach out to them in real time.

Comcast staffers spend their time searching and listening to the “mundane” conversation for opportunities to correct their customers’ concerns.

Monitor the chatter about your company

A few months ago I was on the set of a Carmax Superbowl commercial shoot. I took some photos of the cast and crew creating the spot. I posted a Twitter message mentioning that I was on a Carmax commercial shoot. Within several hours, a marketing manager from Carmax contacted me and wanted to ensure that I meant the company no malice. He was listening very carefully to the chatter about his business.

What Do You Listen For

@Mentions of your username

Be sure to listen for @mentions of your username. These are easy to monitor by clicking on the @mention link along the right column of your homepage.

Mentions of your name, company or business

You can also use the search box on the Twitter page to see who is mentioning your business, company, or industry without using the @mention. Visit the Twitter search page for a more advanced version of the search feature (

Potential customers

Remember the knife salesman example? Be on the lookout for ways to find and reach out to people who are talking about problems that they are experiencing.

How To Listen & Search

Click on the @Mention area everyday

You can simply click on the @username link on the main Twitter page and you will be presented with a list of the most recent @mentions.

Search for your name, company, and business

Use Twitter search to cook up some searches for the words your customers will use to discuss what problem your business solves.

Save your searches for later

You can actually save your searches for later viewing. Twitter will remember your keywords and place a link in the right column of your Twitter page.

Listening and searching really is the secret to using Twitter effectively. Most people view Twitter as a distribution platform to send out messages. I encourage you to view Twitter as a listening platform to monitor what people are saying about themselves, you, your industry and business.


Joel Mark Witt is the Publisher of Folk Media and author of 21 Days To Twitter Leadership. He is a producer, author, and speaker who consults with businesses and nonprofits on how to use social media in marketing and communications. Get more from Joel on Twitter.


Get the book “21 Days To Twitter Leadership” The Step-By-Step Guide On How To Twitter, Get Twitter Followers And Position Yourself As The Leader In Your Industry In Less Than 10 Minutes Per Day.

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  1. Five-Part Social Media Strategy | Folk Media | February 26, 2010
  1. Great Post – Listening on Twitter is one of the top activities that a business must do for several reasons. Here are just a few:

    – Customer Engagement
    – To Thank those that give good press
    – To effectively handle any negative mentions and turn them into a positive if possible
    – Hear what your potential customers want and need

    Of course there are many more and there are several tools out there that can be used to listen with as well.

    Keep up the great posts !

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