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Social Media is the "big word" these days and Twitter is probably the most popular site in it's niche. We've seen it's popularity skyrocket over just a few months since its inception. So it's only natural that a lot of enthusiasts set to deliver lots of tools that work along Twitter and provide various helper functions, sometimes useful, sometimes fun or bragging-rights worthy, and sometimes plain silly. In this article I will try to present you some of the tools that I use on a day-to-day basis and that I grew to love over time. This is not a comprehensive list of ALL the tools out there, just tools that I actually use and that worked for me in my social media activity on Twitter.
Before we start, I would like to send my thanks to Bob Cristello from TweetClean for his videos, tutorials and tips on Twitter. Some of the tools presented here were introduced to me through his work so I wanted to extend my thanks. Make sure to follow him on Twitter: @TweetClean.
My list is focused more on follower build up, time saving and general Twitter management. So, let's start:
1. Automation Tools
In a 140 characters word, the Url-shortening services are an absolute requirement. I remember TinyUrl when it first appeared 10 years ago or so. I recall thinking it was a cool idea, but I don't think I ever used it even once, especially since it got some negative buzz due to security issues. Today, url-shortening services appear like mushrooms, each of them with their own features, bells and whistles, and more and more strange names. They evolved into true link management systems and most of us use them every day. After testing a few of them, I personally prefer Bit.ly, even though every now and then I use others. So, let's talk Bit.ly first:
You must make sure to sign-up with Bit.ly and not use it anonymously. That's because once you sign up, you have the ability to track the clicks of your shortened urls and that is very powerful. Once you sign-up you also get an API key that is personal to you, like a pin. Many tools that provide automatic url-shrinking using the Bit.ly API, like TweetDeck for example, allow you to enter your API key and use it when shortening Urls. This means that you are now able to track how many people are clicking on the links that you provide and that is extremely useful.
Other URL shrinking services: Cli.gs, Is.gd, Tinyurl.com, Snipurl.
Note that even though Is.gd is not as packed with features as other services, it manages to shrink urls to a default of 17 characters, as opposed to the others that go around 20-25 characters. So, if you need the shortest possible url, consider Is.gd.
Also, if you have a lot of time on your hands feel free to check the list of 90+ Url Shortening Services.
Goolge Alerts is not a Twitter tool, per-se, but it is a vital tool for many purposes today, including Social Media. It's not news to anyone that Google is the largest search engine and pretty much everybody knows by now that their scope goes well beyond just a regular search engine or directory. Google's ability to work with search data is far beyond the scope of my article, so let's just put it under the phrase "Google Rules" and move on. Given that, Google Alerts is one of the most useful tools you will ever use. This tool allows you to create simple RSS feeds of news and related links based on keywords. The tool needs to be associated with your Google Account. If you don't have one, chances are you are an alien and probably don't understand what I am writing anyway. But if you do, go to it and try it out. You can enter phrases or words and Google will allow you to create a feed from them. You can select with type of alert you want: news, blogs, web, video, groups, or comprehensive, how many times a day should it be generated, how many results to provide each time and where to send it (feed, email). Then, all you need to do is grab the link address provided by the Feed link, and use it in other tools as I will explain below.
Twitterfeed allows you to automatically post items from a feed onto your Twitter account. Why is this useful? Well, that's because if you are like me, you don't have the whole day to stay in front of your computer and entertain your friends by posting interesting tweets. On the other hand you don't want to post too little things and not get noticed. Here is where Twitterfeed comes in to play. Open up a free account and create a new Feed. Note that Twitterfeed can be used to provide status updates to multiple social networks, not just Twitter. Once you create a new feed, grab one of the feed links you previously generated in Google Alerts and create the new twitterfeed based on it. In the settings, make sure to enter your own Bit.ly API key. Do you start to see the power of what is about to be born here? You have a Bit.ly API that allows you to track clicks and you have the power of the Google monster feeding you targeted information about something that intersts you. And now twitterfeed connects all that to your Twitter account by taking links from the feed, shrinking them and uploading them to your twitter as posts. This is very powerful, but like anything powerful it needs to be used wisely. Remember the rule number one of social networking: Thou shalt not spam. I'll talk more about this in a future article, but basically imagine the social network as an actual circle of people you interact with at a certain event. If one of the guests was coming to you every 10 seconds to whisper something in your ear and then walk away, after a few minutes you would punch them right in the face. The same applies in the e-life as well. Do not pester your friends by posting 20 updates per second. First of all it is absolutely useless and second of all it is extremely annoying. Twitterfeed allows you to set the velocity and amount of your updates. Ordinarily I use a max 1 update per hour, sometimes I even go every two hours. Let's say that you are interested in photography and you created a feed based on news on photography. You are using Twitterfeed to post one post every 2 hours. If somebody is watching their twitter incoming window continuously for 4 hours chances are they will see two automated tweets from you related to photography, which is ok. Some people will be more aggressive than others. Find what works best for you, but make sure you do not turn this useful tool in something that looses your followers rather than gaining and keeping them. Also, when you login into your Twitter account, peak at what was posted on your behalf. Even mighty Google slips some weird things in their feeds. So, if you see a weird post there, just delete it, and maybe consider revising the search terms you used.
Socialoomph is packed with features and it comes in a free and a paid flavor. So far I only used the free version. If you used the paid one, please share some of the useful things you found that are only available in the paid version.
The first time you login into Socialoomph it might appear a little overwhelming due to the amount of information and menu options. But it's not really that bad. First of all, let me start by saying that you do not need a separate account for each of your Twitter accounts, if you have multiple. Sociamoomph will aggregate and work with multiple accounts. After you add your twitter account you can manage it from Social Accounts > Manage accounts. The two best features of Socialoomph are Auto Welcome and Auto Follow. If you are a person whose goal is to get a lot of followers, the Auto Follow is a great tool. It will automatically follow every person that follows you. If you personally like to screen who followed you and only follow those that you find worthy, than this feature is not for you. The second one is the Auto Welcome message. There are many schools of thought around this particular concept. Some people say that they find it rude when they receive an automatic response. Probably so, but I call those people stuck-up. We have to understand that in a social media world it is not conceivable that each of us will be able to constantly watch the waves of information that come toward us every day. So, it is definitely impossible to personally reply to every single thing. And that happens in real life too. Think about your phone - you can't answer it all the time, so you have a greeting message. In my view as long as the message is nicely crafted and is NOT, I repeat is NOT a sales message with a link in it, it can only do good. Socialoomph allows you to create a series of different messages which will be randomly selected and sent to people once they follow you. If you use this feature make sure your messages sound natural and once again, that they are NOT a sales message.
For example, this is wrong: Thanks for the follow, check my site here: ___
This is really wrong: Thanks for the follow, to make some free money click here...
These are good:
Thanks for following me! I am glad to connect with you and I am looking forward to your tweets!
I am glad to meet you and I hope I can share interesting things with you and also learn from your tweets!
Glad to have you among my friends! I am sure we can learn a lot from each other! Have an awesome day!
In other words, genuine welcome messages that deliver what you really think: the fact that you are actually glad to have a new follower and that you are planning to create a real social interaction with this person. I don't see anything wrong with that. It allows me to establish a first contact point with a new follower. In my experience, most people reply to these messages, so you basically already have created a bond with them. I strongly advise people that once or twice a week to go over the received direct messages and select those that seem to be a response to the welcome message and give them a quick answer in a similar fashion, thus solidifying the relationship. Now you are no longer forced to answer right away, you are answering when YOU have the time and I think that is a very valuable thing in this day and age.
Socialoomph also has a feature that allows you to automatically unfollow the users that stop following you, but do not use that feature. As of now, automatic or mass unfollow is against the Twitter Terms of Service and using it might cause your account from being suspended.
This sounds like a good candidate for a spamming tool, doesn't it? In fact, it could be, but when used correctly it will help you out a lot. Think of all the holidays in one year, think about the simple Good Mornings and Good Nights you say every day to the people that you meet. You can use Tweet-U-Later and schedule all these tweets for you. You know you want to say Enjoy Your Valentine's Day and may you be blessed with love. So, why not take the time and schedule all these tweets when you have the time and let Tweet-U-Later send them out for you? It's so simple, and yet so helpful. Fire up a Google search and look for all the religious and non-religious holidays. Craft an objective message for all of them, something like this: "For all of you celebrating X, I wish you a good ...". Just make sure that you do not make a faux-pas, check the meaning of the holiday and if you are not sure about some of them, better do not include them at all. Overall this is a great tool for scheduling tweets. You can also use it if you are a person with a schedule, making speeches, giving webinars and so on. Once you have a firm appointment setup a few tweets to remind your followers of your appearances and let the tool do the work for you.
Tweet Adder is not a free application, but I decided to present it here because I bought and used it and I think it's very useful. I also want to disclose that the link is to my affiliate link, so if you ever decide to purchase it, I'd appreciate if you use my link. The software's usefulness comes from the ability to make searches and auto-follow users. Let's say you are really into wines and you find a major wine guru that has a lot of followers. Chances are that those people are very interested in wine as well and you might want to have them in your followers. With Tweet Adder you can find all these followers and ask the tool to follow them automatically for you. You can setup many options that include how many users per day may be followed, what is the velocity of the automation and so on. A second cool feature is the ability to load a text file with pre-defined tweets and allow the tool to send them out for you at regular intervals. For example, you can find a website that provides funny quotes, download them and create a text file with them. Load them in Tweet Adder and tell the tool to post one every hour and then remove it from the list. Now you are providing interesting content to your followers. As any automation tool, Tweet Adder can be misused and may make you lose followers or even get your account banned, so beware. Be smart and use it the right way.
Other Automation Tools
- Twuffer - allows users to compose a list of future tweets, and schedule their release
- Twittermail.com - post tweets via email
2. Twitter Management
TweetDeck is by far my favorite twitter desktop application for managing tweets and Twitter users. It is extremely versatile, very fast and has a very professional look. Some of the best features of this application:
- Ability to combine as many accounts as you want
- Ability to tweet for one or more accounts in the same time
- Ability to open multiple columns that are updated continuously
- Auto-shrinking with default or your own API key
- List management
- Visual and audio notifications
You must try TweetDeck and I guarantee that you will fall in love with it. Also, if you have an IPhone, they provide the TweetDeck IPhone App that mirrors the desktop application almost precisely.
Hootsuite is very similar to TweetDeck, but it's running in a web browser. It has a multi-column view, tabbed layout, and ability to manage followers, lists, schedule tweets and so much more. It has a lot of features that can save you lots of time, especially if you are active in more than one Social Network.
Seesmic is a very comprehensive tool that comes in both web and desktop flavors. You can view aggregated Home, Replies, Private and Sent columns. Manage and post from multiple twitter accounts, create unlimited columns for your saved searches and lists created from Twitter. They are really proud of their user interface. I find it a little annoying, maybe because it looks too much like the Microsoft Zune...
3. Analysis Tools
Most of these tools do essentially the same thing, which is giving you some sort of statistical information about your followers, your tweets and also rank you among other users. Which one to use really depends on your personal preference. Don't use too many though or you will wind up spending all your time checking your stats. Pick a couple that you like and stick with them.
TwitterCounter is a very simple tool that provides a quick graphical view of your twitter follower build-up. It basically shows a graph plotting how many twitter followers you had each day in the last week, month or three months. It also has a mixed graph that plots the number of followers on a line and the number of status updates in a bar chart. It's a pretty cool thing to use, especially in the beginning. The tool makes some predictions based on your past statistics and it also lets you compare yourself to other twitter accounts.
Twitter Analyzer is another analysis tool that has nice graphs and gives you good information about your account. Some of the coolest graphs are the pie-charts that show the most used tags or subjects, links or Apps used. It's a good tool that allows you gage what works and what doesn't work, who mentions you, who do you mention and so on. In other words it gives you a comprehensive view on your entire Twitter activity and you can use this information to plan your usage in the future.
Tweet Level is a "nifty little service cooked up by Edelman", as they themselves call it. This tool takes a bunch of data from your account and computes 4 scores based on them. The values given are: Influence, Popularity, Engagement and Trust. Ultimately the ranking is done by popularity. There's not too much to say about this tool, but it is useful to watch your influence change when you have changes in the pattern of usage. For example, you start using a new automated tool, or you stop using one. Check the tweet level before and then a few days or weeks after. Chances are you will be able to see shifts in some of the values and you will see if something has an effect or not.
Klout is another ranking tool that I use. Similar to TweetLevel it uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate values based on your Twitter stats. What I like about it is that it plots your account on a chart next to some of the twitter user that are closer to you and you can see in which quadrant you fall. Again, there is not a lot to say about the usefulness of this, but as long as your trend is growing you must be doing something right. If you start falling, better check what you are doing wrong.
Other Twitter Analysis and Ranking tools
4. Other Tools
TwitDir is a Twitter search engine. It allows you to search in names, descriptions or locations. It also lists the Top 100 followed users, top 100 updaters, top 100 favouriters and top 100 followers. These are important lists that you might want to check and follow some of these people. Also, you can use the search engine to find twitter users that share similar interests with you and try to follow each other.
Other twitter search apps: WhosTalkin, TwitterSearch, Twitscoop, twitSeeker
As I mentioned before, the new terms and conditions of Twitter prohibit automatic unfollow or mass unfollow. But this doesn't mean that you should not be able to find who is unfollowing you and then manually unfollow them yourself. Qwitter is a service that will monitor your followers and will notify you when someone unfollows you. It's pretty simple and if you have a big ego and get hurt easily when you are unfollowed you will find it useful. But my advice is, don't get frustrated when you get unfollowed. It's the way of the world. Learn to deal with it.
Similar to Qwitter, FriendOrFollow will give you a page with the icons of all those twitter users that you are following but who are not following you back. When you click on their name, a new page with their profile will open. Here you can check the profile out and if you decide that it is not worth following that person, you can just unfollow them. It's a simple tool and works quite fast.
Twtpoll is a simple application that lets you create polls that you can then share with your followers. It's a great way to create interaction with your friends and get more from your social media presence.
A simple tool that allows you to share files on twitter. Share your images, videos, music and anything else with just a few clicks. The size of the files is limited to 10mb.
Other Twitter Resources
I am definitely not the first or last person to create a list of favorite Twitter apps. I will credit some of those who did it before me by providing their link below:
31 Power Tools For Twitter Lovers To Make Lives Easier
99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications
47 Awesome Twitter Tools You Should be Using
Top Twitter Tools
Top 5 Best Twitter Tools for Business
110+ Best Twitter Tools
Become Social Networking Guru With 45 Handy Twitter Tools
400+ Twitter Tips for Business And Personal Use
If you have a Twitter tool and you would like me to try it out and write a review about it, just send me a message. If I like your tool, I will include it in this post. Also, if you simply want to point out a tool that you think does a better job than the ones I presented in one of the categories above, please let me know. I am always eager to learn from the experience of other Twitter users!