While Twitter is a pretty cool place for sharing stuff, it’s just about impossible to actually follow a discussion. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen two people carrying on a discussion about something interesting and was left scrambling to follow the thread of conversation. Twitter’s API does provide a way to see what a tweet was in reply to, but this does little to help you follow an ongoing discussion. Here are a few tips you can use to keep up with conversations on Twitter:
Bettween is definitely the best solution I’ve seen for tracking conversations on Twitter. Simply provide the names of the two twitter users you want to follow and Bettween gives you a threaded view of their recent conversations. It’s easy to follow the thread from here and see when each tweet occurred. You can also see how many conversations have happened in the past and the total number of messages exchanged between the two. Once you’ve become bored with your original query, you can scroll down to Hot Conversations (currently dominated by aplusk, mrskutcher, arrington, perezhilton, craignewmark, and kirstiealley) to see what others are talking about.
One of the simplest ways to follow a conversation thread on Twitter is to use Twitter Search. The hardest part here is locating the actual conversation you want. Let’s say you saw me talking to Hootsuite and wanted to see what was going on. You could search for @rahsheen and then locate the relevant tweet. Once you’ve found it, click “Show Conversation” to see the entire thread. You don’t have to find the specific tweet that started the conversation, which would be a huge pain. You just need any tweet that is part of the thread.
TwitterScope is a simple bookmarklet that shows you all the tweets from a specific user, along with any mentions of that user. This lets you see what a specific Twitter user is saying, along with everything that everyone else is saying to them. TwitterScope does provide all the information you need to follow the conversation thread, but it might be overkill if you’re looking for something specific. To use it:
- Drag the bookmarklet to your toolbar
- Visit the Twitter profile of the user you want to stalk track
- Click the bookmarklet and you’ll get a popup with all the tweets
This method of following conversations relies on all participants in the conversation following the rules, which never really works out. For instance, many of us engaged in discussion around the recent season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Many users were using the #rhas2 tag, but some used #rhoa or #rhoa2. I often forgot to include the tag myself, even though I was tweeting about the episode. There are ways to make this method work reliably, but it requires the participants of the conversation to use a service like Twubs, Tinker, or Tweetgrid. When it does work, though, following the discussion around a specific topic is as easy as searching for the tag.
Many believe Twitter is a great place for discussion, but I would disagree. It’s a great place to connect with people, but once the conversation starts to go beyond a few tweets, it’s time to move it elsewhere. For the average user, it’s just too hard to keep up. This is especially true if more than 2 people are involved or if you’re not actually a participant in the conversation.
What methods do you use to follow discussions on Twitter?Category: How-To, web 2.0 | Tags: bettween, tinker, twitter, twitterscope, twubs