Not only can the volume of tweets be overwhelming, so too can the number of different tools offering to make your use of Twitter easier or more effective. Here then are my ten top tools, all of which are available for free, though some also have paid-for versions that are well worth getting.
There are many Twitter clients, but Hootsuite tops the list for desktop and tablet use in my book at it makes management of multiple accounts easy – and lets you run more social networks than just Twitter from the one place. A good Twitter strategy is integrated with other channels too, and Hootsuite makes that easier than many.
Hootsuite comes with smartphone versions, but I find them rather clunky and slow for ordinary use. Instead, Ubersocial does the trick – and knocks the socks, spots and everything else off the official Twitter apps. Just remember to turn off “Use the DealBox” in the options (found under Options / Interface Options) to minimise the amount of advertising – and think about going for the paid-for version to remove it completely.
Yes, Google – the search engine. Why? Because if you want to find someone on Twitter, Google is usually a better route than hunting around Twitter’s own search options. That is because Google looks at a wider range of information and so does a better job of finding people, especially if their Twitter name does not match up that closely to their real name.
If you are a blogger, then generating tweets when new posts appears is one of the most effective tactics for increasing your readership. And if you are writing interesting pieces, it is also one of the most effective tactics for providing your Twitter followers with valued tweets. As WordPress is increasingly the dominant blogging platform, I’ve picked one of its plugins: WordTwit. I have tried out quite a few such plugins over the years and settled on this one as offering by far the best combination of features and reliability. Long a favourite of mine, it is now even better as the paid for version has become free instead.
iftt, or If This Then That, is a wonderfully powerful tool for automating actions. Automatic generation of tweets can be controversial and should always be thought about carefully, but tie-ups such as generating a tweet if you upload a photo to Flickr can work well. ifttt lets you tie up far more than just Twitter and that, as with Hootsuite, is a real bonus.
Web shorteners are essential when using Twitter, as otherwise you find too much of your tweet taken up with long web addresses. Despite a controversial redesign earlier this year, Bitly continues to give convenient and helpful statistics which help you work out what is and isn’t effective when you send tweets with links in them.
A handy service when you are hunting out who is worth following online, FollowerWonk lets you specify two or three Twitter accounts and then see who is following both/all of them. There are plenty more features, including some paid-for ones, but this is the most valuable. For example, put in the Twitter names of some key relevant trade press journalists and see who is following them all. That is a great way to find out who is really interested in that topic.
9. Simply Measured
The free reports are a great way of quickly analysing Twitter accounts and how they are performing (along with other social media networks too).
10. Map My Followers
Part fun, part serious, Map My Followers shows you where around the world your Twitter followers are. Very useful to answer questions like “is my list of followers dominated by dodgy American spam accounts?” or “have I managed to attract an audience in Brazil?”.
And that’s my ten. Ten is of course both pleasing round and arbitrary, so please do share what else you would have put in the list in the comments…