Despite the character limit and the apparent impracticality it causes, Twitter has become a serious platform. These days people use it for job hunting, content marketing, creative discussions, or simply to expand their networks of both private and professional contacts.
You don’t have to be a power user to recognize the value of an efficient search function – something that Twitter admittedly lacks. Since Google and Twitter broke off their relationship in 2011 and discontinued Google Realtime Search (which showed all public tweets in Google results), Twitter users have been forced to use the default Twitter search. Of course, it works – but the results are not always satisfactory, even when you use the advanced search option. Luckily, there are many web services providing a solution, and today we’ll look at two very powerful tools with a new approach to Twitter search.
Their names? WeFollow and Twtrland.
WeFollow is a directory of Twitter users focused on their – and your – interests. As soon as you load the page, WeFollow will ask you to add yourself to the directory. It’s not obligatory, though; it’s entirely possible to browse and search without an account.
However, if you decide to register, WeFollow will ask about your interests and use the available data about your Twitter followers and social media engagement to calculate your Prominence Score. The developers describe this score as a unique metric which shows how established you are within your field of interest and ranks you among – and against – other people in the same field.
When you search using WeFollow, the only keywords you need are your interests, for example “guest blogging”. The results won’t be tweets or hashtags mentioning this phrase; rather, you’ll be presented with a list of names, each with a Prominence Score attached to it. This way you’ll find out which Twitter users are the most influential of those interested in guest blogging, so you can follow them to learn more.
The Prominence Score does not depend only on the number of followers, but on their own prominence as well. If you want to be among the top results for “translation”, the people who follow you will also have to rank high within the same field. In this context, having thousands of followers means nothing if they’re not active and if they don’t share your interests.
On WeFollow, people with similar Prominence Score are grouped together. You can adjust the search results to show only people with scores between 20 and 50, as well as browse the results for suggested tags which are closely related to your search. Another way to narrow the results is to search by location. This is convenient if you’re looking for local experts or just want to connect with like-minded people in your area.
Unlike WeFollow, Twtrland is not limited to interests only. You can search for usernames, tags and location; unfortunately, it’s not possible to search through the tweets themselves. However, Twtrland is still incredibly useful, especially as a Twitter metrics tool.
Its main strength is visualization – the results are highly detailed and well-presented using graphs and widgets. The creators say that Twtrland was built to “help me decide whether I want to follow someone or not”, and it does the job very well.
To start using Twtrland you can (but don’t have to) log in with your Twitter account and search for a desired keyword. Twtrland will show related tags above the search results, and a number of options in the sidebar on the left.
The results are, like on WeFollow, people’s profiles, but here they don’t have to be members of the directory – Twtrland indexes all public Twitter profiles. The profiles are ranked according to their popularity (Celebrities, Power Users, Casual Users and Novices) and can be sorted depending on their location, gender and age (machine calculated and not necessarily correct).
Every profile on the results page is clickable and leads to a page with thorough profile analysis. This is where Twtrland shines.
For every profile, Twtrland provides “smart stats”, as they’re called, and you can use Twtrland to check out your own profile, too. From basic information (such as your Twitter bio, location, the number of followers and total tweets) to advanced statistics, Twtrland is really impressive.
It calculates the daily average (Tweets Per Day), the number of replies and retweets per 100 tweets, the distribution of your tweets across different tweet types (links, retweets, plain tweets, replies, mentions) as well as gender and location distribution of your followers. It will also show you the people you interact most with, and rank your followers according to their influence.
This is followed by the Content Breakdown widgets which show your latest tweets, most retweeted tweets, tweets containing links, songs, and videos. The widgets distinguish between mentions (tweets which mention other users, but are not replies) and plain replies (directly to other users). All this is based on the sample of at least 1500 tweets; if it wasn’t for Twitter API limitations, the amount could probably be higher. Twtrland calculates percentage for every aspect of your profile, so you can easily see how many of your replies were sent to women or how many featured a #geek hashtag.
Since I use Twitter daily (and almost obsessively), I was pleasantly surprised to discover these two tools. Both WeFollow and Twtrland offered me a different, fresh perspective on Twitter search and on the entire social network, because they emphasize how and why people actually interact on Twitter.
As Twitter continues to grow, the number of similar tools naturally increases, but I will definitely keep using Twtrland because of its attractive and practical interface. Together with WeFollow, it can help Twitter users who wish to assess their position in the community and increase the visibilty of their profiles.