Follow, Filter and Fold Together

How to use Twitter as a research tool and manage information overload

Catching ideas. Vivid Sydney Launch.

Sydney is doing its best to create information overload through May and June. With the Vivid festival, Creative Sydney, AMPlify festival, Sydney Writers Festival and TEDxSydney (just gone), Sydney Film Festival and a mass of related events, noone has any excuse to be bored.

With so many events, how can you keep track of the things that might be relevant to your industry or creative pursuits?

With Twitter and it can be quite easy. If you haven’t dived into the Twitterverse, this is the perfect opportunity to do so – with a purpose.

Choose the organisations, companies or individuals that are of interest. There are a couple of ways of finding them on Twitter. The first is to search Twitter directly. This can be relatively simple for some organisations, but there can be so many different accounts, spellings and other factors that it can take time to track down the right one. The second, easier way is to go to the websites of the organisations of interest, find their official social media links and follow those.

There are some great tools within twitter that you can use to begin filtering information so that you get more of what is of interest and less of the noise.

Lists. Taking a moment to create some categories for the accounts you want to follow will provide benefits down the track. You can then create a list for each of these major topics. For example, a communicator might choose to have a few lists such as:

  • Agencies
  • Thought Leaders
  • Clients
  • Media
  • Associations
  • Colleagues

As you find new Twitter accounts to follow, take the time to add them to one or more list categories.

Hashtags: The next essential Twitter tool is the hashtag. Take the time to explore and watch how those accounts that are of interest and see what tags are used.

Conferences and the ‘livetweet’. Livetweeting is one of the greatest aspects of Twitter. While there is seldom any substitute for being there at a great conference or event, finding and following the right tags for the event can be a great source of potted wisdom, triggers for new contacts and links to great information sources.

Find the official hashtags for the events and organisations that are of interest. You can create and save these searches.

Fold it together
There are a number of tools that let you aggregate this information.

Twitter clients. There will be a twitter client to suit you depending on your systems, mobile, aesthetic preferences. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are two examples. These applications will allow you to view lists and searches easily.

The personal touch. The range of Twitter clients are excellent, but how do you make it a little more fun. is an excellent resource that enables you to specify lists, twitter accounts, search terms and hashtags and create a ‘newspaper’ from the tweets.

You have significant control over the content and can then share this information in a range of ways – via email, tweet or webpage. It integrates with Facebook as well as Twitter, so you have a great range of sources from which to draw.

There is a degree of ‘randomisation’ – not everything these sources produce will be included every time. It is still a great way of bringing together the collective content of all the sources that interest you in one space.

BrainBusiness is an example, sourced from the range of organisations, speakers and events underway across Sydney over the next few months.