Tracking conversations with Twitter

Twitter just unveiled a new feature that allows you to track any word when it comes up in a public Twitter conversation. You could, for instance, instruct Twitter to let you know every time your name comes up in a conversation, or your hometown, favorite band, or latest trend you’re tracking.

Currently, tracking only works through Twitter’s web and IM interfaces, which turns out to be a good thing.

This is how I’ve set up tracking:

  1. I use Twitter on my Mac through Twitterrific, which -as you will see- allows me to keep tracking results separate from my day-to-day twittering.
  2. Set up an IM account for Twitter. This will allow you to access the tracking functionality and receive results through your IM software. I use AdiumX and Twitter messages me through my gmail chat account.Twitter IM Setup
  3. On your Twitter friends page, set Notifications OFF for all users (so their messages won’t show up on your IM and get lost amid tracking results). You’ll still get all their messages through Twitterrific.Twitter Notifications Setup
  4. Using your IM software, send a message to the Twitter IM bot with tracking instructions. If, for example, you want to track any mention of Google’s stock ticker (GOOG), then simply send the message “track GOOG” to Twitter. You’ll immediately begin receiving updates, via IM, of any public Twitter conversation where the term “GOOG” comes up. The great thing about this is that your normal Twitter conversations will remain free of this additional message traffic.Twitter Tracking
  5. Once you see something interesting come up in your tracking results, you can use “whois username” to find out more about the person behind the post, and “follow username” to begin following this person on Twitter.
  6. If you decide to stop tracking a certain term, simply send “untrack term” to Twitter, via your IM software or the web interface. Send “track” to get a list of search terms currently being tracked.

It just occurred to me, while writing this post, that you could set up a nice stock tracker using this system. Simply enter the ticker symbol of whatever stock you’re interested in and see what the Twittersphere spews out. I’m gonna try it out and see what people are twittering about my favorite stocks.

What about you? How are you using Twitter’s tracker?