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Sunday, 14 November 2010

Use Twitter for PR & Market Intelligence

picture of the blue Twitter bird logo
Intelligent use of Twitter
Twitter is popular with business users as it's a highly time-efficient way to learn from the best in your field if you follow really good people.

It is also very easy to keep tabs on your major competitors online.

Use Twitter's List facility to set up a private list of any named Twitter user's tweets.
  • Click on New List at your home page to create a list.
  • Set up lists of all the Twitter accounts you want to keep tabs on to see how they using Twitter.
  • Read, mark and learn!

Then you can see how effective your competitors are, by running a Twitter search on your @competitors' names. Save the search to repeat it quickly. That will show you what others are tweeting about them.

You'll be able to spot when people are complaining about them - and the things that others really appreciate about their service.

While you might feel like jumping straight in to offer something better when you spot a problem, it's less spammy to get others to recommend you. Or you could offer tips on choosing that kind of product or service without blatently selling yours? Less is more for sales results, especially online:

The King of Helpfulness always trumps Princess Pushy.

Learn from competitors' successes: lots of retweets for a tweet containing a link to their blog gives you a good steer on what topics are the most popular. And if they're not active in this area, maybe you have spotted a cunning opportunity to become the go-to expert in your niche or area?

People often connect Twitter to their other main social media tools, making it easier to work out which social media tools they are deploying. Updates from the other networks will show up in their tweet-stream. You can virtually deduce a whole social media strategy with an intelligent look at a tweet-stream.


One of the most wicked tools for gaining insight into a competitors' list of followers is a tool called It shows a Twitter user's followers (ranked by factors such as the number of followers and the frequency of their tweets) so you can spot the most influential. Armed with that info, you may want to monitor them, or follow them in the hope that they follow you back (apparently on average, 80% of people return the favour and follow back) so they get exposed to your company too.

Tweepi also gives you an easy way to identify people who are following you, but you have not followed back, so you can quickly rememedy that oversight if you rate them.

I particularly like Tweepi for it's ability to find quality people to follow - just start with one top quality person in your field on Twitter with a decent number of followers. Rank the Tweepi table by the number of followers or activity levels (opt out of speed mode in the menu on the top right and selected Preset targets, and have a look at the explanations - it's a very fast education in the finer points of Twitter).

Followers posting quality information links are useful, but become very important if you want to create your very own daily newspaper using I've mentioned before here, so this is just a quick description: it takes the links posted by people you're following on Twitter and turns them into a very smart looking daily newspaper bearing your name. It will also promote your daily newspaper (if you select the promote option) by putting out a varied daily tweet from your twitter account. If nothing else, it takes care of the days you don't get round to posting anything else. But be sure to follow enough people that post links to create a daily paper. You may also want to clean up your follow list to avoid inappropriate material ending up in your daily newspaper.

Measuring Twitter Influence

You can also get objective feedback on competitors' Twitter performance (and measure your own to draw comparisons) using two free tools.

Twitter Grader produces a report showing the overall score of any Twitter username's presence and the most frequently used keywords in their tweets. Very helpful information if you want to come up on Twitter searches under key search terms - or need a reminder to jump on a particular keyword bandwaggon.

Another service, called Klout, looks at a number of factors including the amount of interaction from followers generated by any individual Twitter user to determine the reach of that person on Twitter. I personally find it rates/encourages meaningless chatter between two people that would be better conducted on a 1-2-1 basis, but apparently, we all want to be seen chatting to influential people... sorry Brittany, must dash...

Twitter Management Tools
To manage all this and monitor several tweet-streams at once, consider using free Twitter management services like Tweetdeck or HootSuite. They also allow you to post fast replies.

I find is the most useful tool if you want to put out a post in a variety of different ways as it allows you to create variants for blogs, microblogs like Twitter and also social bookmarking sites.

Other Twitter Tools?

I'm working my way through Twitter tools - which ones do you think I should try?

Thanks Smashing Magazine for the Twitter pic.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at


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