Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tools for Twitter

Since my adoption of Twitter, I have used a number of different tools to manage my tweeting habits. In this entry, I would like to share some of those tools with you.

Most people, including myself, began using Twitter through the Twitter home page. Clearly, Twitter provides the basic tools one needs to post an update, read someone else's activity, and interact with friends. Simple steps like reply, direct message, and save as favorite come standard on the Twitter site. Recently, Twitter added a search bar and trending topics. In the past, we had to go elsewhere to find that information. Overall, one can do a good job of keeping up with friends through the Twitter site alone.

Tweetdeck is a serious tool for more advanced Twitter users. If you have only a few friends that you follow, you may wish to use something lighter, like the Twitter web site. Tweetdeck, I believe, is for those heavy users that follow thousands or hundreds of thousands of people. Following a large number increases the velocity of updates running across your screen. After a while, it can easily become visual noise.

With Tweetdeck you can place people you follow into groups. Say you have family or friends that are on Twitter and it is important you keep up with their posts. The simple solution is to create a family and friend group, which is typically a much smaller number than your overall list. As a result, the feed will move much slower across your screen, allowing you to digest the transmission.

A group is just one feature. I am particularly fond of key word searches. With key word searches, you type in a word and Tweetdeck will return every post that is currently using that term. So, if "Transformers" is the word, then anyone on Twitter using "Transformers" will show up in that feed.

Quickly, I use the term feed to describe a column within Tweetdeck. What makes Tweetdeck so powerful is the ability to have a number of columns open at the same time. Imagine having 10 conversations with different groups of people about 10 different topics. It can be quite overwhelming for newbies, but it's a must have for Twitter power users. Trust me, if my computer could handle the load, I would still use it today.

For the longest time, I was in love with Digsby. Digsby, like Tweetdeck, is a downloadable application that runs locally (on your computer). Unlike Tweetdeck, Digsby not only pulls your Twitter feeds, but it can also pull updates from Facebook, instant messengers, and e-mail. Having this tool means you can check one location for all of your social networking needs. This is very handy for busy people.

Currently, Yoono is my favorite desktop/laptop application for managing Twitter. Similar to Digsby, Yoono pulls updates from Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, e-mail, instant messengers, and even RSS Readers. What I like about Yoono, over Digsby, is the user interface and its ability to do nearly everything within the sidebar. Note: Yoono is a Firefox add-on, therefore it runs within the Firefox browser. When in use, Yoono opens up within Firefox as a sidebar. It's very cool and something I highly recommend.

For those on a Blackberry, UberTwitter is the only tool I use. It is light, quick, and built with a ton of useful Twitter features. Outside of the basic tools, UberTwitter makes it easy to retweet updates, take/send pictures, send direct messages, read profiles, and manage followers. These are just a few of the perks.

Additionally, it is important to note that Twitter really comes alive when used on a smart mobile phone. Why? Because people don't solely exist on a computer. With a smart mobile phone, friends post updates and interact while at movies, mall, church, meetings, and social gatherings. Yes, it is like that. So, if you have a smart phone and not using it to interact on Twitter, do it now. I kid you not, it will change the way you look at Twitter.

This is such a new tool that I am still exploring the interface. In short, CoTweet allows you to manage up to six Twitter accounts or allow multiple people to tweet from just one account. When would this be handy, you ask. Well, companies like to use Twitter as a marketing/networking tool. Until recently, only one person could use the Twitter account, unless you shared the username and password. Being logged in under the company name meant you could not simultaneously remain logged in to your own account.

Today, CoTweet allows you to remain logged into your account as well as five other accounts. Also, multiple users could tweet from the single company account. This is such an exciting update that now my Web Services team can interact with followers from our business account (@nccuwebservices).

For those individuals or companies providing RSS feeds, TwitterFeed is a tool that automatically reads your feeds and posts them on Twitter. At North Carolina Central University (NCCU), both Public Relations and Web Services share news through an RSS feed. Personally, I offer a feed through my blog and if you're on Blogspot or Wordpress, you have one too. Once set up, it is really a hands-free approach to syndicating your content on Twitter.

Well, that's all I have for now. Yes, there are tons of really cool and helpful tools out there for Twitter, but these are the ones I use (or have used) most of the time. If you get nothing else out of this, I encourage you to begin using Twitter on your smart phone today.

Until next time...


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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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