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The Twitter Book, 2nd Edition by Sarah Milstein, Tim O'Reilly

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Chapter 2. Listen In

Twitter gives you two superhero strengths everyone wants: the power to read people’s thoughts and the ability to overhear conversations as if you were a fly on the wall.

To get those bionic senses, you need the right tools and a few search skills. In this chapter, we give you a guided tour of essential listening on Twitter—the who, what, where, why and how.

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Use Twitter search

Because people tweet about the things they do, encounter, read and think, the site is a goldmine of ideas, feelings and conversations.

To become a fly on the wall, head to Twitter’s search box, which lives at the top of the site. (If you want to search without logging in, head instead to http://twitter.com/search.) You can see on the opposite page that a search for the phrase “organic food” brings up a slew of results with people discussing articles about the topic. If search results include photos or video, those appear to the right of the tweets.

As people post to Twitter, their messages get added to search results instantly. Twitter lets you know fresh updates are available by posting a little message at the top of your screen—here, “20 new tweets,” which appeared seconds after the first set of results. (See that the top result here is “Promoted by Colorado Tourism”? We discuss Promoted Tweets in Chapter 6.)

Note the word “Top” at the beginning of the results. It indicates that Twitter has filtered ...

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