Don’t count Twitter out of the social media race so fast. It has been a great social network for a number of reasons. It’s productive. It’s easy to use. It fills a need in the marketplace. There’s another reason for the growth: Twitter has made a point of opening its API up to third party developers.
As such, people are inventing and testing new Twitter tools every day that can enhance your experience.
This is a lesson learned, in part, from WordPress. The free blogging platform has massive market share. The use of plug-ins, add-ons, and widgets have made WordPress incredibility flexible, powerful and robust.
We’re seeing a similar set of circumstances with Twitter.
You can use Twitter “as is”, but most people will soon discover that they can get more out of their involvement by using some of the many third party tools.
We’re going to discuss some of the most popular and most promising Twitter tools. The list isn’t comprehensive (even if it was, it would be outdated tomorrow) but it should give you a good idea of ways to find maximum value in Twitter.
Some of these tools will continue to grow in popularity. Others will disappear when someone else invents an even better mousetrap. All of them, however, are illustrative of the ways third parties can make Twitter an even more powerful tool.
LoudTwitter. LoudTwitter is a tool you can use to integrate your Tweeting with your blogging, if you have a blog.
You set up your account at http://loudtwitter.com and you’ll be able to send a collection of your daily Tweets to your blog in the form of a single post.
You can double the content value of our Tweets this way and let those who might not be on Twitter but who do read your blog a chance to find out what’s on your mind.
TwitThis. Twitter is a big world of potential customers, clients and contacts. You want to do everything you can to be part of the action. This can include encouraging others to Tweet about you even if you aren’t actively involved in Tweeting the stuff yourself.
That’s what TwitThis does. It’s not really a part of Twitter use, per se. Instead, it’s a little button that makes Tweeting about something a quick click process for readers.
You can put TwitThis buttons on your blog posts or web pages. If the person reading it finds the content impressive enough to Tweet, they can do so by clicking the button.
It integrates their Twitter account with your content. That’s a great way to increase the dissemination of your content to the Twitter crowd.
Go to http://twitthis.com to learn exactly how to make this a part of your web-based efforts.
TwitterFeed. Here’s another tool designed to bring your blogging and your Tweeting together. Instead of publishing your Tweets to your blog, TwitterFeed announces your new blog posts via Twitter.
Setting up an account at http://twitterfeed.com is easy. It’s also a “set it and forget it” type tool. After you’re locked in, your Twitter account will automatically Tweet an announcement every time you publish a new blog post.
TwitterFeed is a great tool, but it certainly doesn’t replace the need for Tweeting, even if you are a prolific blogger. Announcing the things you’re doing is a perfectly normal part of being on Twitter. Doing it all automatically without engaging in any real discourse; however, is not.
Use tools such as TwitterFeed as a part of your overall plan, not as a substitute for real involvement.
TweetDeck. TweetDeck is arguably the most popular Twitter tool around. You’ll see many Tweets that say, “sent from Tweetdeck” on them because so many people love this tool which can be found at http://www.tweetdeck.com.
Tweet deck is a small footprint piece of software that runs on your desktop. You can see your incoming Tweets, respond to them and send your own Tweets right from your desktop.
It also allows you to set up real time searches to stay abreast of subjects that are of high interest.
TweetScan. If Twitter has a weakness, it’s probably to be found in its search tools. Fortunately, tools such as TweetScan can help solve the problem. TweetScan is a Twitter search tool that digs through the text of actual Tweets in order to provide the user with results.
Remember how we recommended using Twitter’s search tool to find those first few “seed” people to follow? TweetScan could do the job, too. In fact, it probably does the job better.
It’s a great way to find the people you’d like to follow and to learn more about those who might be following (or mentioning) you.
This is only a sampling of the various Twitter tools available.
There are tools to make it easier to Tweet from your mobile device. There are tools that will allow you to write Tweets in advance that are later put up automatically.
There are tools that allow you to separate your followers into groups, to make it easier to hone in on certain “conversations” while eliminating the unwanted “noise” of others at certain times.
If you can imagine it, there’s probably a tool for it. If not, there will be one soon.
With so many tools to choose from, you might wonder which ones you should be using and which ones you can ignore.
That’s going to depend on the individual user and his or her goals with respect to Twitter use. However, there are a few basic principles you can use to decide whether implementing a new tool is worth your time and effort.
First, does the tool really fit with the way you want to use Twitter?
If you’re not interested in turning your Tweets into blog posts because the nature of your blog and your Twitter activity aren’t a perfect match, you can probably take a rain check on LoudTwitter and TwitterFeed, for example.
If you don’t want to Tweet when you’re not going to be there to follow up on a conversation, those Tweet schedulers won’t make much sense to you.
Think about your reasons for using Twitter and consider how effectively any given tool will be in that regard.
Second, test before sending. In other words, when you find a potentially valuable tool, take a few minutes to run it through its steps and to test it out.
You might find that there’s something about it you don’t like. You may also find that is has an application that makes it even more valuable than you imagined.
Test new tools before deciding whether they’re going to be a regular part of your Twitter repertoire.
Third, consider whether the tool is there to make Twitter better or merely to exploit its potential. Some tools are great. They make life easier for the user while actually improving the usability of the service.
Some tools exist for very little reason other than rapidly and inadequately automating processes that really should involve the human touch.
You need to decide for yourself if an individual tool is really something that’s going to improve the Twitter experience in a real way or if it’s just a short-cut gimmick created to exploit the system.
If you can think of other Twitter tools besides the ones mentioned and you would like to share, please do so in our comments section below.