Blog Post

How to Mine Twitter for Information

twitterLast week, I admitted that I am an information junkie, and I wanted to follow up this week with a few tips for feeding your information habit by mining Twitter for information. Twitter tools are popping up like weeds lately, so rather than try to be comprehensive, I’m just going to highlight a few of my favorite tools for getting information out of Twitter.

Twitter Search

Twitter’s built-in search engine is probably my favorite way to find information in Twitter. It is great for quick searches to find specific pieces of information, watching trending topics, and persistent vanity searches for your name or company. While I do use the search engine to type in queries, the real power is in using RSS feeds for searches and running them through Yahoo Pipes for additional filtering. In many cases, I use Yahoo Pipes to loop through a series of keywords from a CSV file to search Twitter for each of those keywords and monitor the results as an RSS feed in my reader. I recently did a 2 minute video explaining exactly how to search twitter using Yahoo Pipes and a CSV file of keywords, so I won’t cover it in any more detail here.

Twitter Stream Graphs

I’m a big fan of getting data via RSS, but sometimes you just need a picture. Twitter Stream Graphs are a great way to show your boss how much buzz you generated on Twitter with a particular tweet or a keyword. In this example, I searched for legionoftech, an organization here in Portland than organizes our local BarCampPortland event, and you can see that we did a call for volunteers over Twitter on April 21 and had some conversation leading up to the event on May 1 and 2.

Twitter Stream GraphTweetVolume

TweetVolume is a great tool for comparing the number of mentions across several keywords. With the recent Mother’s Day holiday, I’m happy to report that mothers are more important than vacations, the beach and Star Trek. However, sadly, bacon seems to be a more popular topic on Twitter than mothers (shame on you!)


What are your favorite tools for mining Twitter for information?

15 Responses to “How to Mine Twitter for Information”

  1. Awesome!

    Funny thing with that bacon, though.
    The first service to bring geolocation awareness to the search wins the cake!

    Also, @henrymack, what makes your search so semantic? It really doesn’t seem that way.

  2. What the Hashtag does a good job of aggregating information around hashtags. The initial goal was just to get definitions for them, but it has been expanded to include statistics on the top users, number of unique contributors, etc.

    TweetStats is a great way to analyze your own activity on Twitter, while Twitter Analyzer will not only look at your own account, but also the activity and interactions of your followers.

  3. Simon,

    Oooh, BackTweets is awesome – great suggestion. I’ve already added it to a couple of my Yahoo Pipes that I use for tracking.

    Bill – TweetGrid is a great one, too. I’ve played with it a little, but for some reason, I never stick with it.

  4. Shameless self plug: I’ve been using the Philtro beta to cut out most the the cruft from my incoming tweets.

    The product currently filters the interesting content from the tweets of those you follow. We’re internally testing a feature that will extract the most interesting tweets from the public timeline.

  5. MicroPlaza which allows you to visualize all those neat websites tweeted about by the people you follow …

    You can also group your contacts in Tribes which allows you to create topic-based mini communities …

    There’s also a Search functionality, together with Saved Searches and trending topics …