These visualization tools for Twitter are cool to look at and use.
Some real-time visualizations are great for displaying at conferences, where you can set them to only display tweets with a certain hashtag or containing a certain word.
Others are very useful for market research, making new contacts in your industry, and getting to know your network
Let's start simple. True to its name, Twitter Map uses the Google Maps API to visualize tweets by their location. You can search the latest 10, 50, 100, or 500 tweets for your query. Hover over a point on the map to see the tweet. Note that this works better for trending topics than very specific terms – if a word hasn't been mentioned in the last 100 or 500 tweets, nothing will be mapped!
This tool can be useful to find where an audience is strongest for a particular topic – although I'm sure the time of day that you use it has a large impact on the results. Since this tool will only find tweets by users who have enabled geotagging, your results might be skewed; however it's useful for getting a general idea.
A similarly simple tool, Hashtagify.me looks at hashtags to find relations between them. It shows you related hashtags as well as displaying the top influencers for that tag, charted out by influence and specialization. In simple mode, clicking a related hashtag (a blue circle) will refocus on that term; in advanced mode, clicking a blue circle will display connections for both the original term and that circle simultaneously. In either mode, the most recent related tweets are displayed on the right in real time.
If you use hashtags to reach a broader audience, you will probably find Hashtagify.me very valuable in finding related tags. The top influencers list is also unique – there could be some great new connections there!
Another visually simple tool, TweetStats creates graphs of how specific people use Twitter. Plug in your username and you can see your average tweets per day or month, timelines of when you tweet most frequently, what interface you used, and more. There are tabs to view a simple cloud of your most used hashtags, and stats about your followers. The website is pretty slow; come at the wrong time and you can be queued with hundreds of other people all trying to get their stats. Your best bet is to plug in your username now and get stats for yourself in an hour or two.
While this might be most interesting for reasons of self-interest ( la I had no idea I had such an affinity for tweeting on Thursday afternoons!), I can see it being slightly more useful with a little ingenuity. Ready to do some light stalking? Who are some of the influencers that you would like to get to know a little better or interact with a little more? Plug 'em in and see when they tweet most often! Then make sure you're online and tweeting when they are.
Now we're getting into some really cool ones. Mentionmapp is, as the name suggests, a map of mentions – the people and hashtags you and your connections use in your tweets. Type in your Twitter handle or anyone else's into the searchbar on the left. Nodes are clickable, so you can explore your connections' connections, too. The interface is really fun to play around with; as nodes load they pop into existence, rocking the entire map.
I'm sure you've already got tons of ideas for how to use Mentionmapp running through your head, but if you're at a loss, a great place to start is to find influencers within your reach to connect with. Plug in a big name or entity and explore their connections. See what hashtags they use most frequently and start using them yourself. Find new connections among your contacts. The sky's the limit.
Revisit is a really beautiful visualization that displays the latest 200 tweets around a particular topic in real time. Plug in a search term (a word, a phrase, a hashtag, a @username, whatever you like), give it a fancy title, and set the number of tweets to display at once. (Just make sure you don't set it too high, or you'll need to call in computer support to fix your fried computer.) The customizable settings are really nicely suited to displays.
If you need to quickly get some sort of media display going at a conference or a meeting, Revisit's your man. It's useful, dynamic, and pretty, and will undoubtedly do the job with ease. On your own, use it to find important, recent tweets based around a specific topic of interest to you, and the people who tweeted them.
When I first discovered Spot I wasn't really sure what to do with it, but since reading a little more about how to use it and spending more time playing around, I can see that it's actually an extremely powerful tool! Spot maps out individual tweets as particles, which arrange themselves in different formations depending on the options you have chosen. Start by entering a topic, a username, or even a list. Cycle through the different buttons at the top to view the tweets by "banner view," timeline, user, related words, source, or group. Click any circle to view its tweet. If you idle, random tweets will display. Spot updates in real time.
Use Spot to see what time a topic is particularly strong (timeline view) or what words relate to your search query (word view). Plug in your username or someone else's (don't forget the @) to see how the tweets by that user relate. If you want to go really in-depth, create a list containing specific related influencers and enter it into Spot (in the search bar, type @username/listname) to see all the wonderful ways these people relate. For more ideas, read this post by its creator, Jeff Clark.
What other creative ways have you used these tools and others? Please share – I'm always looking for new things to play with useful new tools!
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Aaron Walker is a tech enthusiast and writer who loves trying new gadgets, reading true crime novels, and hiking. He hopes to someday publish a book - but for now, he’ll settle for indulging in his love of blogging. In the meantime he'll sustain himself working in online tech support.