Dec

22nd

An Emerging Shed of Twitter Power Tools

Software | Web Marketing


A week or so ago, I wrote an article about mining research/marketing information in a new way from Twitter,. That site, Listimonkey, will monitor lists for you, and watch for key words.  When it finds your designated key words in your list, it’ll send you an email, designating the tweeter and the tweet, until you tell it to stop.

Eugene MandelShortly after my article was published, I got a tweet, from Eugene Mandel, who invited me to discuss the whole concept of data mining on Twitter.  That tweet led to a very collegial telephone conversation between us, in which we exchanged ideas which will provide the basis for this article.

Eugene is a very engaging young entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, who has been involved with a number of startups.  His current plans integrate very nicely with my concept of Twitter data mining.  My prediction is that his newest venture, mustexist.com, is destined to become an important tool for Twitter users.  He recently started the company with his pal and co-founder, Alex Sherstinsky, a Ph.D. from MIT.  These guys are very serious players.

Mustexist’s current product is called list tags. It allows one to take a twitter name, and creates a ‘cloud’ of lists in which that Twitter name appears, roughly signifying the importance of keywords in that person’s list audience by the size of the type in the cloud.

GlennbeckcloudHere’s a copy of Glenn Beck’s tag cloud.  I shrunk it down to accommodate the page size, and its contextual importance in this article.  Beck is on some 3800 lists.  Politics, News, and political head the parade, but further down the list are lists named things like ‘nutcase’, and other less desirable things to be associated with.  Mandel goes through the Twitter API, and finds all the lists on which Glenn Beck is mentioned.  Then, he queries those lists and finds the most popular keywords in their title.  Then he ranks those keywords by their frequency of appearance in Beck’s universe of lists, and performs a simple statistical conversion to interpolate the list keyword frequency to the type size in the cloud.

Pretty neat trick, eh?

But there’s more: list_tags enumerates some of the lists on which the Twitter member appears.  Here’s a picture of the TopLists for “Politics” in which Glenn Beck appears.  Now think, for a moment how valuable this Toplistsbeckinformation can be.  Many of these “top” lists contain 400–500 members.  These are lists for the top topic which have the largest number of members – regardless of whether or not the subject appears on those lists.  That’s valuable information for marketers, or for researchers and even job seekers.  But more than that– everyone who is maintaining such a list is someone who has enough interest in your subject to go to the trouble of maintaining a list of people who he/she considers are the leaders in the field.  And if that’s not enough, the lists editors is another valuable source of fertile relationships to cultivate.

The second. longer list is a list of which Glenn is a member.  So, in the case of a celebrity, it will not be unlikely that the same names will be on both lists.  I’ll not reproduce the Lists for ‘politics’ because it is too long – and because in appearance it strongly resembles in format the ‘Top List’.

So the stage is set now with a resource now to empower Twitter users with access to many lists.  A little resourcefulness will enable you to harvest those lists, and, by extension, to knowledge of all of their membership.  This will give you first hand access to communicating with the most well-regarded people in any given field!  And with the LIstimonkey resource, you can monitor the conversations of those experts for keywords.  With a little software jiggering and less than an hour’s effort, using our Glenn Beck example, we could identify, harvest and communicate with thousands of political junkies.

Mandel, however, is talking about taking Mustexist to a whole other level.  Using the database he has assembled for the list-tag project, he is planning to offer in the near future an interactive, iterative way of ‘surfing’ the tweetstream of these lists, in much the same was that Google lets you surf for articles.  He made the analogy of a newspaper in our conversation.  Each newspaper has several sections: sport, business, local, etc.  If you accept the proposition that a list’s tweetstream is like a newspaper, then it would be very productive to skim through the newspaper, looking only for articles that interested you.  You could skip the car ads, and dating club ads, and focus on baseball, or international news.

Similarly, over a period of time, a list’s tweetstream will have a lot of chaff: someone’s opinion of last night’s American Idol, inclement weather, mother-in-law coming for a visit…  But what if you could adopt a list, or amalgam of similar interest lists?  What if you could in real time and on an ad hoc basis query the stream for stuff like: climategate?  cap and trade?  world health organization?  BTU content of coal?  And how powerful would it be if you could pursue your line of inquiry immediately, based on feedback you got from the previous question?

I think that MustExist is on the verge of somthing quite important that will add a new dimension of empowerment to the serious Twitter user.  There are currently some 23 million Twitter users, 75% of which are either classified as ‘addicts’ or ‘regulars’.  That’s a reliable 18 million pairs of eyeballs scanning and interacting with Twitter several times a week – sometimes several times a day.  Any tool that can reliably and easily segment relevant portions of that population and then address them is bound to be very successful.

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