If you’re looking to spin up quickly on a topic, understand keywords or related (secondary) words to a search term, find out what a person talks about, or want to do some market research, keep reading. You can use two free tools (Twitter and Wordle) to give you a graphical representation of content, all in about three minutes. And, you don’t have to “be on Twitter” – you can do this without having a Twitter account. In the example below, I’ll use the term “Red Sox” for my query, and pretend that I’m interested in starting up a blog about my thoughts on the Red Sox. What are people talking about? How can I get a quick glimpse into that conversation?
- Go to http://search/twitter.com/advanced. The other way to get here is to go to http://search.twitter.com, and click the ‘Advanced’ text, just to the right and below the search box. In my anecdotal discussions, this is often underused, or not even known.
- Enter “Red Sox” (using the quotes) into the ‘All of These Words’ box. You may want to run this a few times (spending 6, 9, or 12 more minutes) with variations, like using the #redsox hashtag instead, or searching for tweets within a certain geographical area, or tweets with the : ) or the : ( ‘sentiment’.
- After you execute the search, you’ll see the results page. On the right, look for ‘Feed for this query’. Click that. Depending on your browser, and if you have a pre-configured RSS reader (like Google Reader), you’ll see something that looks like this: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=”red+sox” It might be in a new window (e.g., you use Chrome and it doesn’t link over to Google Reader), or it might look like this (if you use Firefox and have Google Reader as your RSS aggregator) – see the associated image. You can save yourself a click by instead right-clicking on the ‘Feed for this query’ and select ‘Copy link location’ or ‘Copy link address’ or whatever your browser’s equivalent is.
- We’re done with Twitter. Now open http://www.wordle.net. If you’ve never been, it’s cool – it’s a free wordcloud creation tool. [Bonus tip: drop the text of your resume in here – what word pops the most? Is that the word that you want to pop the most?]. The premise is that the more often a word is mentioned, the larger it is.
- On the top tab, click ‘Create’. In the second entry field, past the URL you just copied – the atom/RSS feed – into the box and click ‘submit’.
- Wordle thinks for a second, and then churns out some content. Under the ‘Layout’ option, change to horizontal if you’re having a hard time reading vertical or diagonal text. Play with the colors until you get something that looks good for you. Be sure to check out the ‘Language’ to get a text version of word counts, or to only show the top few.
- Now open in a new window and screen capture it, print to a .pdf, or otherwise do whatever.
That’s it. In three minutes, you’ve taken a river of news using one free tool (Twitter) and distilled it into something generally cogent using another free tool (Wordle). And, it looks pretty.
What about you? How do you do quick and dirty market or keyword searching? Or, what are the other creative ways you use advanced Twitter search and Wordle? let us know in the comments.
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