One of the problems about Twitter is that it was never meant to be used for data mining. It displayed conversations of those you followed, and you could see whenever someone mentioned your username or sent your a private message. In fact, Twitter didn’t even have an integrated search engine until it bought one from Summize in July, 2008, 2 years after they had launched their service. Fast forward to today, where the most recent stats last year hint at Twitter being one of the largest search engines that exist and you get a sense of how important searching for data on Twitter has become in a mere 3 years.
Just by looking at Twitter, however, it’s seemingly impossible to find a lot of data that you might be looking for. That’s where Twitter’s APIs come in. Instead of creating everything themselves, they let 3rd party companies come up with thousands of applications for the needs of any given user (of course, recently Twitter has begun to buy back some of these strategic 3rd party apps like Tweetdeck…).
Here’s a simple task to prove my point: I work for a company and am targeting Twitter users who live in a certain area. How do I find them? I decided to experiment with an actual city and show you the different results I get with what limited capabilities Twitter has and 5 ways to search for people by location that I recommend.