Twitter has been tweaking its search engine, experimenting with ways to sort results into your regular list of messages. But you can already subscribe to a search results in your RSS reader, which I prefer for tracking trends. These RSS search feeds create another great Twitter business tool.
Like Google Alerts, you can use these searches for your own market research; whenever people mention your company, competitors, or industry, the note will appear in your RSS reader. Here's how to get started, even if you don't have a Twitter account.
Visit the search page, and enter your query. For a few more options, click Advanced Search such as limiting results to a specific language. The None of these words field helps limit things, such as a search for "phone" without "iPhone." Or you can achieve the same results on the front page with a minus symbol, such as adding "-iPhone" to a query.
Search for something specific, since there could be lots of hits on general topics. Try your company name, a competing company, or a recent industry topic. Preference-laden words might also help get a sense of the public, such as "like," "hate," and "favorite." Click Search when ready.
On the results page, just click the Feed for this query link to add the search to your RSS reader. Now your RSS tool holds a constant survey of your business.