This is a very scientific-looking chart to make this blog look serious and data-driven. In reality, it is completely meaningless. We'll keep that our little secret though. Nobody reads these captions any way.

Last week Frank Podlaha posted a comment on {grow} that had readers asking for more of his views on wading through the noise to find a meaningful signal on Twitter. Frank has been gracious enough to provide a guest post in response to reader requests. Here’s Frank:

Let’s say you’re at an Oscar party (it COULD happen) with hundreds of people.  Great conversations are going on, but all you hear is that dull roar of voices.  Slowly you walk around popping in on different groups only to hear individuals talk about a stunning performance.  Now imagine the same party with millions of people and conversations.  That’s Twitter!

How do you cut through all that noise to find any sense?  It’s takes a little persistence, but it is possible to bust through the constant white noise of nonsense.

Tag Clouds – Your friend.

Tag clouds are the quickest way to scan the Twitter Universe and pick out the important topics from all that noise.  Tag clouds are groupings of words from tweets where the size (and often color) represents a higher or lower occurrence of that word. Envision a tag cloud as looking at a crowd of people.  The folks screaming the loudest are the ones creating the largest words in the cloud.  Twitter tag clouds are easy to find.  Most free services have some short of generator to help quiet down that dull roar.  Twitscoop, LocalChirps, and TweetDeck all come to mind.  In TweetDeck, look for the little cloud icon button at the bottom of your tweet columns.

The tag cloud generators also let you drill down even further. Reduce the noise to focus on your interests by slicing and dicing the cloud down to specific dates, cities, and list of followers.

List it, then listen

While tag clouds can provide a macro view of the world, they can’t account for the spammers and automated tweets of repetitive marketing links that “hijack” trending topics to spread their corruption. This can skew the results of the clouds. So if you need more precision, we need to dig a little deeper.

Twitter Lists are a great way to cut through this clutter. You have the power here to decide who is worthy to put in special topics and categories.  Building searches and tag clouds on lists can get you past all the nonsensical tweets.  One downside, Twitter lists are limited to 500 names.

TweetDeck will let you create user “favorites” and put them into its tag cloud generator.  LocalChirps Pro goes further with Blacklisting spammers by geographical regions.  Once this white noise is cleaned out, a much clearer picture emerges of what our neighbors are thinking.

Let’s get fuzzy

Now for the big guns. If the center stage of you Social Media strategy means following and searching for product names, events, political causes, whatever; it’s time for true data mining software.  Think about a keyword search of tweets; the results only show when that exact phrase is mentioned.  We don’t speak the topic of our conversations in every sentence, and neither does a Twitter conversation mention its subject in every tweet. We need to find the entire conversation.  We do that with Fuzzy Logic queries.

Fuzzy Logic is a term that analytical geeks use to scare off commoners.  It’s nothing more than applying statistics to our results to find the second, third, fourth most common keyword or term.  These terms are then included in additional filters to our original results.  What we achieve is finding the back and forth conversation about the initial topic.  It’s all about statistics and probability, and it’s still never 100 percent accurate.  That’s why we call it “fuzzy.”  Specialized software such as LocalChirps Pro and ProductChirps can perform fuzzy logic searches.

Many more paid services exist.  To be on top of your brand reputation, monitor all possible avenues of social media, not just Twitter, with Radian6 and RepuTrack.  Or dig deep into specialized analysis with software tailored for specific industries as with ListenLogic.

Where is the Wisdom?

We have drilled down into the masses of Twitter, filtered out the nonsense, and whittled our way to a concise, relevant conversation.  It is truly like finding out little secrets about your customers and markets every day. What you do with the secret … ah, there’s the wisdom!

Frank Podlaha is a brilliant technologist, an inspirational entrepreneur and creator of LocalChirps.com

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