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Using an RSS Feed to Track Your Brand on Twitter

You need to listen to your customers on Twitter because that’s where people are talking. Twitter has over 170 million users worldwide, and it’s the most popular micro-blogging tool. Although it doesn’t have the same reach as Facebook, it’s still in the mainstream, and millions of people are using it.

Sometimes the tweets about your brand disappear from the screen because the application you are using can hold only so many tweets, and you can’t recover them easily, if at all. For example, the Twitterfall page holds anywhere from 10 to 20 tweets, depending on the size of your browser window, and after those tweets disappear from the screen, they’re nearly impossible to recover.

In this kind of situation, an RSS reader can really make a difference. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and you can use this monitoring tool to keep up with different content feeds. Your Twitter stream on TweetDeck or other Twitter apps is a type of RSS feed. Using an RSS reader, you can combine different feeds from different newspapers, blogs, social networks, and even Facebook.

So, you can convert your Twitter searches for tweets about your brand or company to an RSS feed, which you can access from any RSS reader.

Using RSS feeds gives you a number of different advantages:

  • Don’t miss a tweet: One of the problems with Twitter is that if you step away from it, you can miss something. You can always create narrow, specific searches that don’t get populated very frequently and thus don’t get lost on your regular Twitter feed. But sometimes, you still lose search results if you have to reboot your computer. An RSS feed doesn’t depend on your computer being on, so you don’t have to worry about information getting lost while you (or your computer) are sleeping.

  • Share the feed with other people. If you have other people in your department, send them the URL of the saved feed, and they can import it into their RSS feed reader.

  • Access old tweets. Even after you read a tweet, the RSS feed still keeps it in place. Just scroll back to the tweet you’re looking for to display it.

A number of different RSS readers are available, whether you use a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer, or even just want to keep it online. Here’s a review of a few of the more popular ones:

  • Google Reader: You can add feeds to your iGoogle homepage or add them to the separate reader, which keeps all your feeds in a single location, showing you only the ones that you haven’t read.

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  • My Yahoo!: My Yahoo! is a great news aggregator, which is sort of like a newspaper that you build. It’s compact, without a lot of wasted space, so you can squeeze more feeds onto one screen. You can also create tabs (“pages”) for different types of content. Create tabs for brand mentions, industry news, company updates, or whatever you want.

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  • NewsGator: Pull up RSS feeds on a Mac, in Windows, in your Web browser, or on a mobile device, or even have feeds sent to your e-mail address.

  • NewsFox: This is a plug-in for your Firefox Web browser. Firefox actually has several RSS plug-ins, but NewsFox is one of the more popular ones.

  • Bloglines: This Web-based reader has an e-mail-like interface. It stores your feeds on its server so that you can access them from any computer.

  • Liferea: This is a Linux-based RSS reader and one of the easier ones to use. Liferea stores your feeds in its own cache so that you can read them offline. However, you can read the feeds from only one computer.

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