twitter searchSocial marketing, Web 2.0 – whatever you call it, proponents and gurus of the forms on online marketing that involve consumer-generated media and user participation constantly stress the conversational aspects of marketing in Web 2.0 channels. Some have gone so far as to dub this “conversational marketing.”

All those drop-what-you’re-doing news bulletins that begin, “The blogosphere is buzzing about…” are so 2005. The latest channel to attract attention is the first one that’s literally a conversation: Twitter.

Slews of marketers are jumping into Twitter with both feet to participate: to show off domain knowledge, create promotions on-the-fly, to publicize upcoming events and sales – the possibilities are endless.

But what very few marketers, advertisers and brands are listening to Twitter – they’re reiterating the same mistakes they made at the very beginning of Web 2.0.

Social media monitoring must be an inherent part of any marketing strategy, whether or not you’re even participating in social marketing channels. And it’s as easy on Twitter as it is on other forms of social media: just steer over to Twitter’s own search engine, enter a search term and subscribe to the RSS feed of the search results.

Search terms should be broad, as with blog, news, or general web results search. You want to enter brand names, product names, names of the principal executives of your organization, even competitor names. Don’t forget to include common misspellings. Now that tweets are spidered by search engines and appear in general web searches, this simple tactic is more critical than ever.

Twitter has become a major channel for consumer complaints and gripes. A woman on my follow list has been documenting UPS’ days-long inability to deliver a laptop for which she paid for overnight delivery. Every call to customer service is angrily summarized in a Tweet. Twitter has fast become a major cog in the rumor mill – one ardently followed by prominent journalists. A Twitter exchange this past weekend about rumored layoffs at Google is already appearing on blogs and news sites. But bear in mind it’s not just about breaking out of Twitter. That conversation was instigated, followed and re-tweeted on Twitter itself by participants with tens, if not hundreds of thousands of interested followers.

Even when you’re not participating in a social conversation, you’d prick up your ears if you heard your name mentioned. It’s human nature. It’s also self interest. There’s no excuse whatsoever for not listening to Twitter on an ongoing basis.