Bob and I talk a lot about blogging and other social media when we get together, and we talk a lot about Twitter. I don’t use Twitter as much as I could, or should – but I have had the chance to use several tools that help Twitter users get more value from the social media platform. So for today’s post, I thought I would highlight some of the great Twitter tools I’ve used over the past few years.
First, I’ll start with the easy stuff, the tools you probably are already using – and if you aren’t, you should be. The first piece of advice is to get away from using the Twitter website as soon as possible – you’ll need to set up your page, but after that, consider using a tool that allows you to take more control over your tweets. My platform of choice is TweetDeck, which allows you to create customized groups of tweets categorized in any way you like. You can also access your Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare and Google Buzz activity here too, if you like. One of the many great benefits of the latest release of TweetDeck is the ability to “pre-publish” your tweets – schedule a tweet for any time in the future. Seesmic is also a great platform to check out.
URL shorteners are a must when you’re trying to fit a link into 140 characters – but don’t just use a shortener for the sake of making a smaller URL. Find a service that provides metrics for your link, so you can see how many people are clicking on it. That’s why bit.ly is my URL shortener of choice – the tracking features are great. There are literally dozens of these services (in 2008 Mashable reported more than 90 shortening services) – use one that provides the metrics you need to measure your link popularity.
Another service that I’ve subscribed to for about a year now is ChirpStats, a dead simple analytics tool. Just follow @chirpstats on Twitter, and after a few days you’ll start to receive regular messages about how many followers you’ve gained, and how many you’ve lost. ChirpStats even shows you who stopped following you in the past week.
Speaking of following, once you start to follow a decent number of people, it’s tough to know who’s following you back. That’s why I use Friend or Follow – simply plug in your Twitter ID, and you’ll instantly see the people you aren’t following, the people who aren’t following you, and your mutual friends (Twitter Karma is also a good site to learn more about your Twitter relationships). What if you want to prune the number of people you follow, to weed out those who don’t post very often? Use UnTweeps and you can automatically unfollow those stale Twitter accounts.
One of my favorite new tools helps with a big problem I have with Twitter – the fact that my friends are providing links to great information every day, but I just don’t have the time to look at all of them as the “river of Tweets” flows by. I’ve been using ReadTwit for some time now, and I love it – it captures tweets with URLs of the people I follow, and puts that into an RSS feed that I can read at my leisure, using a newsreader like Google Reader.
As you can see, there are many tools out there that can make your Twitter experience more enjoyable, interesting, or efficient. You don’t have to try them all, but it definitely pays to try a few, especially if you’re finding yourself becoming more hardcore at using Twitter.
Enjoy! If you have questions about these tools, Twitter, or social media in general, feel free to contact me at tmighell(at)gmail(dot)com.