Following on from an earlier post about which tools you can use to fully utilise Twitter as part of your social media branding, here I want to look at how you can use Twitter for research. By research I mean you can look at your field of expertise, what your competitors are up to, what people are saying about them and, more importantly, what people are saying about you.

Although you can use the likes of Tweetdeck and Seesmic for research, I prefer to use Twitterfall. The service is simplicity itself to use. You just key in the word or words you want to search for and the Tweets start to “fall” from the top of the screen. If you are carrying out multiple searches, each is colour coded for easier recognition.

On the left of the Twitterfall page is a panel that shows you trending data (who the hell is Justin Bieber?) lists, your search terms, geolocation which I haven’t played with and a box that allows you to exclude specific words or terms.

To the right is the control box that permits you to change the speed, the animation – fall or fade, fall size, language and text size. If it all gets too much and the slower speed still does not allow you to catch up with all the tweets there is a pause button.

From within the main fall tweet area you can click on links to get taken to the reference page and also DM – direct message – the tweeter, follow, reply, retweet, report and mark the tweeter as a favourite.