There can be real benefit in monitoring key accounts to know immediately when they are tweeting:
- In an emergency situation, receiving updates from key emergency service accounts;
- If you are reporting on a breaking news situation, receiving updates from key accounts live-tweeting the situation;
- If you are trying to get the attention of someone, know immediately when they are sending tweets so you can tweet them at a time your tweet may be seen (you’ll still have to figure out if their tweets are scheduled or live, however);
- If you’re trying to assist someone over a specific time period, such as by being a super advocate for them, it’s often beneficial to keep up with their Twitter activity so you can respond quickly where appropriate;
Additionally, if you choose to monitor account(s) by receiving their tweets via email, you get a searchable record or all tweets that you can access easily from any computer, since most email services have an easy-to-access webmail interface.
While there are several approaches to doing this, I’m going to avoid the ones that rely on Twitter search results. That would typically be where you would use an app an enter a search for “from:username” (without the quotes) where “username” is the name of their account. For example, to see our tweets, you would search for “from:tweetsmarter” (without the quotes). However, Twitter search is unreliable, so I don’t recommend methods that rely on it.
Start Monitoring Key Accounts in Three Simple Steps
There is a much simpler approach that will allow you to receive the tweets of your target account(s) via SMS or email. Click the links in the steps below for more information.
If you want to do your monitoring by SMS (text messages sent to your mobile phone), simply follow the steps below. If you want to receive the tweets from the account(s) you’ll be monitoring by email, you’ll need to have your SMS messages delivered via email. A simple way to do this is to set up a Google Voice account (if you don’t already have one) and have the SMS messages sent to it by enabling Google Voice Text Messaging to email.
1. Follow Them!
The first step is to follow the account(s) that you want to monitor, either from your own account, or from a new Twitter account you’ve created specifically to monitor them. To create a new account, simply log out at Twitter.com, and click the links and fill out fields to create a new account. (Caution: Do not create more than 1-2 accounts every few days. Twitter will suspend accounts if you create too many to quickly, although there is no absolute limit to how many you can have. So if you have to create other accounts for some purpose, be sure to create no more than a few per week.)
2. Enable SMS Notifications
3. Set To ONLY Receive Tweets From Key Account(s)
Next, turn OFF receiving updates by sending only the word “OFF” to your Twitter shortcode, which will turn all updates off. Finally, turn updates on ONLY for the accounts you want to monitor by sending “ON username” to your Twitter code for each username you want to monitor and receive tweets for.
Use Your Own Account, Or Start A New One? SMS or Email Notifications?
In most cases you can simply use your own account and monitor by receiving text messages of all tweets from the accounts you are monitoring.
As previously mentioned, receiving via email has the advantage of providing you a searchable record or all tweets that you can access easily from any computer.
Other than not wanting the accounts to know you are following them (for whatever reason you feel you need to be stealthy), using a second account really just provides you more flexibility. It means you can use your main account for SMS notifications, and the second account for email notifications, for example.