One of the most powerful tools on Twitter is the search feature. This function allows you to search the entire Twittersphere for anything you like. Better, the Twitter search runs in real time, meaning that if you leave the search window open it will continue to update throughout the day.
This feature is also built into TweetDeck. Previously I have written about how I had a five-column set-up within TweetDeck. This weekend, however, I reduced this to four, removing the ‘replies’ and ‘direct messages’ panes, and adding a new search column.
Why? Efficiency, first and foremost. One of TweetDeck’s best features is that it notifies you when you get an update. However, if you use groups or a search within TweetDeck there’s a good chance that often two or more panes will be updated with the same Tweet, meaning you get duplicating notifications. That’s not the end of the world but it can be a bit irritating. Furthermore, TweetDeck is already a pretty big drain on your computer’s resources, and less in this case very much equates to more.
So, the replies column is gone. What I have instead is a search pane that constantly scans Twitter for this query:
sheamus OR Sheamus OR @sheamus OR @Sheamus
The Twitter search is case-sensitive so I had to include my name with both the capital and lower-case spellings. By doing this, I get notified each and every time:
1.Â Â Â Somebody replies to me (i.e., @sheamus)
2.Â Â Â Somebody re-Tweets me
3.Â Â Â Somebody mentions me in passing
4.Â Â Â Somebody mentions some other Sheamus in passing.
This is all useful information. Items 1-3 naturally help me to socialise better with my followers, and item four provides a good ‘in’ to meet a new person who then may well become a follower.
I also run another real-time search pane that searches the Twittersphere for mentions of this blog. This again provides me with an excellent way to monitor how the stuff on here is being received. (It’s particularly useful/nice to see articles on the blog being Tweeted by people who aren’t following me.)
Now that I have four columns instead of five, TweetDeck takes up less width which removed the need for me to use the ‘narrow columns’ feature (in settings). The benefit here is I now can fit one more row of Tweets on the screen (before they scroll off). It’s a small change but quite a handy one.
Even if you don’t use TweetDeck, you can run a Twitter search in a background tab (on Firefox or your choice of tab-supporting web browser) and periodically check in to see if it has been updated. You won’t get notified like you do on TweetDeck, but it will still give you an edge.
Remember, you can run searches for anything you like: products you’re selling, your favourite television show, movie or band, your business competitors, and so on. It’s a very powerful tool and I think one that will become increasingly important in Twitter’s development.
EDIT: After doing some testing it seems now that Twitter’s search is not case sensitive. Also, if you query a search similar to the way I have, your own Tweets will show up as well (as your name registers a hit in the search). I like this because sometimes people forget the @ symbol and other times it’s just nice to meet other Sheamus’ (Sheamusi?), but you can remove this if you want to keep your own Tweets out of the search (i.e., so it will be ‘@yourname’). Finally, if somebody has their Twitter updates protected, they only show up in the replies window, because Twitter search does not track protected updates. As with all these things experiment with what works best for you.