Social networks can seem like a frenzy of disconnected messages, status updates, and discordant noise. And some of it is – and well, why not. Sometimes people just say something one-off, and if it’s pleasant, poignant, humorous, or insightful, it can give you a smile or a chuckle, a pick-me-up in the day.

But if your interest in this media concerns your small business then what does social media offer you?

First go online and just listen. Lots of your customers are there. Find out what they are saying about your industry or issues related to your organization’s offerings – whether products, services, or valuable information for community, business, society.

I’ll discuss some ways to listen on Twitter.

1) Develop good keywords, what are people saying about your industry.

To begin this process you need to find the keywords or phrases used generally for your industry when someone performs an online search through popular search engines. What phrases best describe what you do, how do people use them to make a search, then develop your set of keywords and use those to find your audience.

This topic is another read all together, but here’s a synopsis:

a) What are these keywords important for your search? Are you using keywords appropriate for communication in your field and are they the same ones others outside of your industry are using to search for your type of offerings. Do you need both sets?

b) Use Google’s keyword suggestions, autocomplete, when trying out a search;
— use a keyword tool through a Google AdWords account (that you can start at no charge);
— try Google Trends or Google Insights for Search;
— try WordTracker’s free keyword tool

Start broadly with your keywords and hone in to more specific keyword phrases, three-, four-, and maybe on occasion, 5-word phrases. The more specific the keywords the better your results per number of visits. Read news articles about your industry – what terms are they using?

Or if all of this seems too much for you to investigate and will keep you from your already established business routine, try using a web marketer, it may save you time.

2) Now to listen, make your first search on twitter, fine tune it, and save it.

Keep in mind how people use words and phrases on Twitter considering the 140 character limit. Familiarize yourself with the landscape and terminology, read some of the top topics, find others in your industry already on Twitter. You may need to tweak your set of researched keywords to develop a good Twitter search.

After logging into Twitter go to “#Discover” in the top navigation bar to make a search; use some of your well-researched keywords to make your search and analyze your results. Then click on the settings icon and use the advanced search tool to develop a more targeted, specific search if needed, adding or eliminating words.


Once you are satisfied with the results click again on the settings tool and save the search. When you want to make the search again, go back to “#Discover” click in the search bar and select your saved search in the drop down. Note about the “#” or the hashtag: it is another way to mark a keyword or trending topic, developed organically by Twitter users. I use it often to mark a live event, a hot topic, or a recurring popular hashtag like #FF, Follow Friday, a weekly roundup of good people to follow. But otherwise trending topics or keywords can be found without it.


3) Healthy observations and a little good sleuthing are always in order.

Create lists within Twitter, which is basically customizing your own timeline (or stream of tweets). Follow people you want to know about, find out what they are saying.

Develop lists that follow trends in your industry. You can make these lists public or private (and remember nothing is ever truly private online, but in this case, it’s just about listening to what’s already public). And you can subscribe to other people’s lists that they’ve made public.

Use these Twitter features to find out about what your customers or competitors are saying, what may be trending, and how you can fit in with valuable content. Twitter isn’t about a stream of sales pitches.

On social networks, for a business, it’s about fitting in. By offering information that adds to the conversation you will develop a good following interested in your business and your website. You must take it from there to convert.


Lists can be either public or private; and you can subscribe to public lists by other Twitter users whether or not they follow you or you follow them.


Also visit the “@Connect” section of twitter where you’ll find:

Interactions – anyone you’ve interacted with, so anyone mentions you, that follows you, retweets you, marks your tweet as a favorite;
Mentions – more specific than “Interactions” it only lists those tweets that has your username in the tweet, including replies.

Use this section to reply to people, or not, who are reaching out to you and who you do not follow; or to find out who is interested in what you have to say; and to form online Twitter relationships. Replying to people on Twitter, paying attention to what they’re saying and taking time to respond appropriately will lead to many relationships that become good business, good contacts, and good colleagues.


Mentions and Interactions are “Twitter streams” or timelines that mention you in some way or displays where others have added you to lists or marked your tweets as a favorite.


Happy listening and good tweeting!

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Molding my "Approach to Art and the Written Word" by observing color and following light, form, and time. Always learning new ways of working and interacting within local and online communities. Taking in the sights and sounds and making notes.