There are so many Twitter applications available it can be extremely difficult to know where to begin, and what to select. I continue to try out new applications at the rate of at least one a week. Some barely last longer than it takes to set them up, because they are clearly not for me. That is not to say there is anything inherently wrong with them, they just don’t improve on what I am already using. Others tend to stay around on my desktop or in my browser for the duration of an evaluation period, while I try to give them a good test.
Some of the tools I use are now almost household names, but some are a little more obscure. I want to share those that make up my current Twitter Desktop, and thus remain active in a browser all day.
I’m starting with a measurement tool. SocialBro trawls through your Twitter account and slices and dices it in every imaginable way. When it is done it provides you with a dashboard, and a series of filters that allow you to analyse most aspects of your followers and friends. The options include time zone, language, account, age, tweeting frequency and whole lot more. There is also a menu item called Insights which presents this information in pie charts and bar charts.
SocialBro also bucks the trend a little and chooses to link to Peer Index to add influence scores. Being somewhat ambivalent about Klout, I see this as a positive move.
Once you have got your head around all of the basic dimensions of your Twitter profile, you can begin to explore an array of additional capabilities. The scope is considerable, but the following bear a mention:
- Best time to tweet - I know other tools do this, but as well as determining when your followers are on-line, it looks at the times when re-tweets have occurred historically, AND then lets you import all of this information into Buffer (see more below).
- Analyse your competitors – want to know all of the above for any other Twitter account? You can just add the user name and you are away. This also shows you who your common friends and followers are.
- Analyze your lists – check out the broad dimensions of the people on your lists
There is one thing that has puzzled me and that is a number of references to limitations, normally volumetric, associated with the free account. Now that is entirely reasonable, but I can’t find a paid account and what it might offer!
Garious is great tool for scheduling tweets from multiple sources and to multiple destinations. In my view, Garious has one of the easiest and most intuitive interfaces around. Essentially it has 3 components:
- Lists - these are made of your own twitter lists, your blog feed(s), Google Reader sources and, any other RSS source your care to use.
- Schedules - each schedule you create has a number of really useful components. You can determine the start and finish times, the number of tweets to be sent during the period and, the list or lists from which the tweets are to be selected. The tweets can be selected sequentially or at random, and a schedule can be run indefinitely, repeating tweets over time.
- Social Networks - finally you can target the network or networks that each schedule will deliver tweets to.
I’m not often given to using superlatives, but this application truly is awesome! It is simple, straight-forward and effective.
Certainly one of the better Twitter clients in its original desktop form, and better yet when used in Chrome. Since I imagine most people will know TweetDeck reasonably well, I won’t elaborate further, save to say that it supports all the basic day to day stuff extremely well.
A great means of drip feeding a steady stream of interesting tweets to your followers on Twitter and Facebook. For me this enables me to spend just one or two sessions a day reviewing all of my feeds in Google Reader. Instead of immediately sharing those items I believe to be of interest I just add them to Buffer. Buffer then sends out the tweet or status update complete with a link to the article, at the next time slot I have set for the network in question. (See SocialBro above, which can set the best times for your status updates automatically)
For each Twitter account or Facebook profile you are linked to, you can define the number of statuses you wish to post each day and at what times. As you add items to Buffer they are allocated the next available slot, overflowing to subsequent days if necessary. It is possible to post the same item to multiple accounts if you wish, and you can also post immediately if you find something that is time critical.
A useful feature allows you to review all items in Buffer and edit them if you wish with your own comments. While I use Buffer predominately with Google Reader, it can also be used as a Browser plugin, enabling you to post from anything of interest from anywhere!
I am still exploring the potential of BottleNose, which provides a combination of insights and suggestions for re-tweeting or mentioning. Essentially it takes your Twitter timeline and allows you to segment this in a number of different ways using ‘Assistants’. You can add Assistants that will track:
- Popular items that have been shared often
- Suggested items that are aligned to your interests
- Breaking News within your network
- Suggested Reposts of items deemed to be highly relevant or trending
You can also set up specific streams to track your Twitter lists; a wide variety of popular topics; specific individuals; items that are exclusively News, Video or Pictures; or something else that you can customise.
Finally there is a clever graphic capability called Sonar. Within any of the
streams you have defined you can see how you link to other Topics, Hashtags or People. You can also select any Topic, Hashtag or Person to be centred in Sonar to see how the connections form around your selection. The screen grab shows part of an instant snapshot of my stream.
ManageFlitter is one of those really useful applications that is easy to use and performs a helpful housekeeping role. It quickly loads the people you Follow and segments them in to a number of different categories, such as:
- Don’t follow back
- No profile image
In turn each of these categories can be sorted by criteria such as ‘follow date’, ‘listed’, ‘last tweet’, ‘username’ etc.
The purpose is to allow you to quickly segment people that you may decide to unfollow because they are inactive, or have no profile image. To aid the process you can select as many as 100 people at a time. There is a Pro version that offers more sophistication.
These applications are among my current favourites, and I see little reason to replace any of them in the immediate future. (Well at least not until something amazing gets launched tomorrow!).
If you want to explore some other interesting applications then do try Strawberry Jam, Commun.it and TwentyFeet, AND then share your findings.
Peter Rees is an independent Internet Business Consultant. He specialises in a metrics based approach to internet marketing, making extensive use of website analytics and website performance auditing tools to best inform and advise his clients. He is a strong advocate of the need for companies to implement a formal Social Media Strategy, supported in turn by Social Media Policies and measurement systems.