There are lots of tools for using twitter, some for tweeting and scheduling tweets, some add greatly to existing twitter functionality, others help you manage your followers, and some focus on data visualisation based on twitter’s data.
In generally they are using twitter’s API to pull publicly available data from twitter and presenting it to you in more useful ways. There are loads of tools out there that are lots of fun to play with, in researching this I found this list of 93 free (or freemium) tools. and this list of 21 must-have tools for twitter. Be warned though, things change quickly in the twitterverse and some tools may already be dead (RIP Storify).
I’ve tried a lot of tools over the years I’ve been using twitter and these are my favourites. PS They’re all free, or have free versions.
1 Tools for using Twitter
I am a fan of TweetDeck, I can manage multiple accounts from it, across multiple devices, and it provides multiple columns which is handy for specific searches and for any tweetchats that you join.
It will also let me schedule tweets. There are social media experts out there who say you shouldn’t schedule tweets, and there are examples where it has gone wrong. But it’s a practical way of managing your account.
Twitter now allows scheduling from company accounts, and their are other tools out there, Hootsuite is probably the most popular and it has the added advantage of giving you some analytics, although the most interesting data is only available for paid accounts. (See the advantages and disadvantages of Hootsuite).
2 Analysing Twitter
I use twitter’s own analytics tool, just go to https://analytics.twitter.com/ while you’re logged in to twitter and you’ll see basic analytics data for your twitter account.
Twitter’s analytics tool provides decent reports on your follower growth, overall tweet performance, and performance per tweet. The downside is that only 5 months of data are held, if you want to use more you need to download your data regularly. Oh yeah, it’s free.
FollowerWonk works on a freemium model but gives in depth analysis of your followers and who you follow, it has all sorts of neat tricks from suggesting the best time to tweet, to the “Social Authority” of your followers, to their activity.
This graph shows when my followers are most active – it makes sense to tweet more in periods of high activity.
3 Managing Followers
I use Status Brew to track my followers. I’ll generally follow back if the account looks like a real person who is tweeting genuine content, this tool helps me identify fake or inactive accounts. It also shows me who has followed or unfollowed me recently and lets me follow back (or unfollow) from within their application. Manage Filter offers similar options. Both companies work on a freemium model, for individual use the free tools are already pretty helpful.
There’s another tool around that will validate followers for you called truetwit. I haven’t used it but have been asked to validate my account by people who are using it. Most days I only get a few new followers so it’s easy enough to validate them myself, but I can imagine for those on very popular accounts who want to ensure their followers are real, this would be a time saver.
4 Visualising Data From Twitter
MentionMapp, shows you the relationship between hashtags and people. I’ve used this to find relevant hashtags for posts, and to find people who are currently tweeting about a subject, the presentation is dynamic, and you can click on any hashtag or person and the graph rebuilds.
One Million Tweet Map shows you local clusters or a heat map of where subjects are being discussed based on a hashtag search.
If you want to know the trending hashtags around the world Trends24 lists them all with a national and city breakdown. Just for fun I made a comparison of what LA and NYC are tweeting about. Apparently there’s a thing called The Bachelor that’s the most interesting.
6 In App Tools
There are a few things you can do on the twitter app that you can’t do in the web version of Twitter.
Twitter was tricky to use for long form conversations in it’s original incarnation. Each tweet was only 140 characters and that included hashtags and URLs, writing tweets was almost an art form. It’s improved the character count to 280 which excludes hashtags and links. But still people needed more and came up with a work around, breaking your long story into a tweetstorm, a series of tweets, and using a numbering convention to help the reader; (1/4) at the end of a tweet indicated that this was the first of a four tweet series.
Last year Twitter introduced threading and you can just add a tweet to thread and they will be presented together. Much easier for the reader. This is only available on the phone apps at this stage and it’s really easy to use.
The latest feature rolled out from Twitter is a real bookmark option, you are now able to save tweets to read later in a private list. There’s now a share button below each tweet, clicking on it reveals a short menu, click on “Add Tweet to Bookmarks”.
You can find your bookmarks saved under your profile and all bookmarks will be there. They’re not visible on the desktop version, yet.
I’ve got one more post in this series – around etiquette and things that can go wrong in Twitter. I’ll publish that next Tuesday.