Posted to Leigh Carver's blog on October 30th, 2012

Using Twitter Alerts to Boost Your Business

Twitter + Wookiee = Twookiee. Image courtesy of

I have a serious problem with social media. Those of my friends who don’t understand my obsession with hashtag conversations on Twitter and web-celeb Facebook pages (George Takei, anyone?) call me an addict; those who do understand are too busy liking and sharing what I post to give much thought to what I do, or why, or how.

As a social media specialist, I have  the opportunity to convert my passion for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other networks into a source of income and I have learned that there’s more to running a successful company social media account than posting and sharing content. I’ve grown a lot. My journey has been paved with misfires, missteps, and just plain bad ideas. But for every mistake I make, I learn something and thus refine my social media kung-fu. Now, like Yoda, I will pass my knowledge on to those who need it.

Set Up Twitter Alerts, You Must.

The topic of this particular blog entry is how keyword monitoring on Twitter can contribute substantially to the effectiveness of a social campaign. You may have experience with using Google Alerts to listen for keywords and phrases on the ‘net-- I now invite you to apply your knowledge to the 140-characters-or-less behemoth of social conversation known as Twitter.

Let’s pretend I’ve been hired on by a small-business owner to manage his social media. Han Solo is an intergalactic smuggler who is well-known in his industry for his skill and daring. Mr. Solo has a great website that is SEO-optimized, and though he utilizes  several social media outlets, he’s not entirely comfortable with the medium. He’ll use check-ins on Foursquare to let followers and potential customers know where he can be found, and networks with current, previous, and future clients using Facebook and Twitter. Mr. Solo knows that there are conversations occurring on these social outlets about his industry, but he doesn’t know how to find them-- or, whenever he sees a conversation he could have contributed to, too much time has elapsed and the conversation has moved on.

The first thing that I have Mr. Solo do is create a list of references to topics he wants to listen for. This list might look something like this:

Millennium Falcon
space smuggling
intergalactic smuggling
Wookiee co-pilot
passage to Alderaan
Boba Fett
Lando Calrisan
Jabba the Hutt

The next step is to apply those keywords and phrases to several tools-- a keyword monitor and a list moderator.

One tool that I particularly like to use is called TweetDeck. Provided by Twitter, TweetDeck is an application that can either be run through your browser or on your desktop.TweetDeck allows you to create custom feeds based on various search parameters or hashtags. These searches are really great if you are trying to follow a conversation on a popular, high-volume topic.

Image from Star, modified by Volacci.Another benefit of TweetDeck is the ability to organize Twitter users that you follow into lists. So, Mr. Solo’s lists might include:

“Bounty Hunters”
“People I’ve Shot”
“Wookiee Behavior Experts”

This keeps Mr. Solo’s information streams separate, making it easier for him to track conversations in certain industries, even if the conversations don’t revolve around a certain topic.

However, using TweetDeck alone won’t cut it. Even if Mr. Solo has set up a number of search streams, sometimes things can still fall through the cracks. This is why I would recommend that he also supplement TweetDeck with a keyword monitoring system much like Google Alerts.

Twilert is a fantastically useful little tool that allows you to set up a number of alerts to monitor for specific words and phrases. So, in addition to Mr. Solo’s searches on TweetDeck, he can also set up some very specific Twitter alerts to send daily, weekly, or by any other interval that Mr. Solo feels is necessary.

Some of my recommendations for specific alert phrases might include:

“where is” “Millennium Falcon”
“looking for” “smuggler”
“looking for” “smuggling services”
“need” “passage to Alderaan”
“saw” “Boba Fett”
“Jabba the Hutt” “bounty”

The quotations around the phrases ensure that only exact match phrase will be returned. So Mr. Solo wouldn’t need to worry about getting garbage Twitter alerts in his inbox, like:

    “I need to go reread that passage about Alderaan for class tomorrow!”

Which might show up otherwise. Instead, Mr. Solo can expect to see results in his inbox like:

    “I heard Jabba the Hutt has a new bounty out.”


    “I’m looking for transportation on a smuggler’s ship”


    “I saw Boba Fett in the Cloud City yesterday.”

Now Mr. Solo can feel secure that he’s not going to miss a single post of interest-- he can reach out to the person looking for a smuggler, or, alternatively, stay as far away from Cloud City as possible.

But These Aren’t the Tools I’m Looking ForImages from Star and Modified by Volacci.

What’s most important is to make sure that your tools make your business more efficient.  Tweetdeck and Twilert are only two. Here’s a list of other great tools that I’ve encountered that did not suit our business operations-- but might suit yours.

Hootsuite: a social media management system for brand management. Allows for scheduling, some search, multiple streams and lists.
Twazzup: a realtime news and keyword searching tool.
Monitter: a realtime Twitter search tool that lets you narrow conversations by keyword and geographic location.
TweetBeep: an email Twitter keyword alert system.
Twitscoop: allows you to receive, send tweets, and find new friends instantly, without ever reloading your page, as well as search and follow what's buzzing on Twitter in real-time.

There are many more other keyword monitoring tools that I haven’t even touched on-- if none of these work for you, feel free to search around Google. If you have a tool that you’ve used that you liked-- or disliked-- feel free to chime in by commenting below!

And remember-- the most effective keyword monitor is the one that works for you. Best of luck to you on your social media journey, and may the Force be with you.