Ever since I started using Twitter, I have been interested in the kind of information that you can glean from the mass of tweets people make to it every day. Given the growing number of Twitter users, this can be a great source of all kinds of information. Companies are using Twitter information to learn in real time what people think of their products, as reported this NY Times article. There are many tools out there that can take Twitter data and turn it into valuable information you can use, an example being TweetStats. TweetStats gives basic trending information about Twitter, what are the hottest topics now, as well as trending information about a specific Twitter feed. Another, more humorous analyzer is Cursebird, which tracks the use of swearing on Twitter, and can give a given Twitter user a cursing score from 0 (Lame) to 100 (George Carlin Wannabe).
Twitter’s search is a good place to start if you want to start tracking Twitter trends yourself. Just type in the search terms you wish to track and a results page will appear. Using a hash(#) tag can help your searches be even more targeted. For instance, if you want to see what people are saying about Swine Flu, just search for ‘#swineflu’ and watch the tweets roll in and see just how panicked, or calm, people are right now.
Another great tool is TweetDeck, a multiplatform Twitter client. Not only is it a great Twitter client for posting and reading the people you follow, it also allows you to create tabs based in Twitter searches, so you can see the results of several searches at once.
As more and more people start digging into Twitter data, and as more and more people use Twitter, we will see some great tools make use of that data. For instance, you could have a tool that tracks how people feel about the housing market in a given geographic area, or people’s reaction to a given news announcement over time. The best killer app for Twitter trending is likely something we haven’t even thought of yet.