As part of a little case study I’m working on, I wanted to track tweets on a post I wrote last week about ways that Google can prevent terrorism. Since tracking each and every tweet on this post is critical to the accuracy of my case study, I tried to be as diligent as possible about searching for tweets about this post on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, I ran into three problems while trying to track all these tweets:
1. Everyone Tweets differently, with each person using a slightly different text description and/or shortened URL. Therfore, searching for the exact title of the blog post (or the shortened URL) doesn’t find all the relevant Tweets. SO, in order to cover all the bases, I used a few very generic keyword search terms (like “google terrorism”) to try and make sure that I found all possible tweets about my post. Obviously, this added time to my work.
2. Twitter’s search engine has some major problems. First of all, it doesn’t always work. We’ve all seen the fail whale. Secondly, it simply doesn’t show old tweets. I took a little break in searching for tweets about my post, and now I’m not sure if I found them all because Twitter doesn’t show tweets more than a week old in their search results.
3. Google doesn’t index every tweet. This is probably an interesting finding all by itself – if you want to know what Google thinks about your Twitter account, try searching for your old tweets. Search:
“sporkmarketing/status” site:twitter.com – (be sure to use the quotes and substitute your own twitter ID for mine)
and you can see if all of your tweets are indexed. I compared the number of Tweets indexed from my Sporkmarketing account to the number from my TundraHQ account, and it’s pretty clear that Google assesses a higher priority to some Twitter accounts over others. As a result, you can’t rely upon Google to track every Tweet from every user.
So, the question is, how do I track every tweet about a specific blog post? The answer I like is called UberVU.
UberVU allows you to bookmark a blog post and then track any references to that post from Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, etc., plus blog post comments. Basically, UberVU is a conversation tracking tool.
I compared the Tweet data that I collected manually to UberVU’s data, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ubervu had each and every tweet that I manually found and recorded in a spreadsheet. UberVu’s data is much better than the data I found on Tweetmeme and Topsy (two other “conversation tracking” tools) – Topsy missed about half of the relevant tweets on my post.
So, to sum up, if you want to track tweets about a blog post with accuracy, check out UberVU.