Are you scratching your head trying to come up with current trends on a particular white paper topic? Why not tap into Twitter? By using applications that harness the power of this vast network, you can selectively search the Twittersphere for trends in your industry.
Set up alerts around key phrases
For instance, I’m interested in white papers and want to keep tabs on how people use and perceive them, so I set up a keyword alert using SocialOomph.com with the keywords “white paper” and “white papers.” This service (which used to be called Tweet Later) sends me an email digest every day with a list of tweets that feature those keywords.
You would be surprised what comes in—everything from people tweeting about reading white papers, to folks lamenting about having to write them, to crafters wondering what color paper to use on a project.
Because Twitter is so immediate, I can get a pretty good sense of what the general thoughts are (across this social media platform anyway) regarding white papers in a given time frame. This can be pretty useful when looking at how trends affect an industry.
Analyze your results
One day last week, for example, my Twitter Tweets Keyword Alert Digest returned 102 tweets on my white paper keywords. What did that tell me?
Doing a quick browse of the list, I could see that around 70 of them were people reading and sharing white papers, or companies announcing the release of new ones. Ten were tweets from people saying they were writing a white paper, and the rest were in the category of “mindless babble.”
Of the 70-odd reading or sharing tweets, most centered around business practices, software releases, industry trends and the like, and at least a third of them were re-tweets of the same material.
Change it up–experiment!
Could you use this information for a “trends” section of a white paper? Sure! Depending on the industry, Twitter keyword alerts can be very helpful when gathering information to discuss a particular trend. It can either give you a quick overview, like my white paper example, or you can get more creative with your keyword phrases to narrow down a particular industry topic, and analyze those tweets across a longer time frame.
Have you used social media tools such as keyword alerts to conduct research for white papers or articles? If so, please share your experience—and let us know what you think.
About the Author: Apryl Parcher is Michael A. Stelzner’s apprentice. You can learn more about her at www.aparcher.com.Receive email updates when new articles are posted.