Twitter is a social media phenomenon that can seem rather underwhelming the first time you log in. You’re presented with a 140-character limit text box and a way to find friends via your email address books. That’s about it. But Twitter is a powerful tool you can use to network and become highly visible in your niche.
I use Twitter every day (@dianafreedman), and here are the twelve Twitter tools I consider the most useful:
1. TweetDeck – a desktop client
Tweet Deck is one of several Adobe Air desktop applications. Unlike the other desktop apps, it splits your Twitter feed into columns, so you can get a broader overview of your tweets. This is especially helpful if you follow a lot of people. You can have columns to separate @ replies, direct messages, topic, and friend groups. Friend groups are my favorite feature, so you can group people by industry, common interests, and you’re real-life friends. You can easily tweet, reteweet, reply, send a direct message, and follow people within the application.
2. Twitter Search + Hashtags – a hot topic tracker
I’m already cheating; these are two separate applications, but are very powerful when used in conjunction with one another. Twitter Search, formerly Summize, lets you see what people are saying about a topic of your choice. Type in a TV show, book, website, or even your own company or name, to see the latest buzz on your topic.
Hashtags makes Twitter Search infinitely cooler. Hashtags are the # people place in front of a word (for example: #lost) to tweet about a specific topic or event. So instead of searching for “lost,” which might retrieve results like “lost my car keys” or “I’m lost in NYC, ACK!”, typing in “#lost” will bring back results specific to the hit TV show on ABC. You can see what topics are popular on the Hashtags site, but since Twitter Search also does this it’s not too essential. Use hashtags yourself to appear in these search streams.
3. Twellow – a tweeple directory
You can find people with specific interests as you on Twellow. This is really useful when you’re trying to reach out to people in your niche. Searching is easy; just type in a keyword and find profiles that match your interests. You can also create an extended biography, which lets you extend past the 140-character limit. Do this. The more people know about you, the more likely they’ll be to follow you.
Twellowhood lets you find people geographically, so you can see if there are any Tweeple in your neighborhood.
4. Friend or Follow – a follow tracking tool
This tool makes it easy to see which of your friends aren’t following you back, which people are following you that you aren’t following, and people you are mutually following. Pretty self explanatory, and very helpful if keeping a good follow ratio matters to you.
5. Tweetlater – a tweet scheduler
Going on a long vacation and don’t want to seem like you’ve fallen off the planet? You can schedule future tweets with Tweetlater, so your tweets will appear in the your followers feed at predetermined times. You can also automatically tweet about a blog post with the RSS feature. Tweetlater also includes services like automatic following and sending direct messages when others follow you, but I use SocialToo for those features (see #10). You can also set up keyword alerts to receive email updates of what people are tweeting about a topic, which could be yourself or your company.
6. Twitt(url)y – a popular link aggregator
Twitt(url)y is like the Digg of Twitter. The homepage shows what URLs are currently being tweeted/retweeted the most, and also shows the comments referring to the URL in the Twitter stream. I definitely like knowing what topics are hot, so this is a great supplement to Twitter Search.
7. Twitter Counter – a user ranking service
This tool tracks your follow trends. It charts how many followers you’ve had since you opened your Twitter account, and predicts how many followers you will have tomorrow, in 30 days, or whatever time frame you choose. You can choose to receive daily email updates on your Twitter stats. Twitter Counter also provides a stat counter to place on your website or blog to show off your follow count, and encourage more people to follow you.
You can also look up the stats of any Twitter user, so you can see the following rate of successful and highly visible Twitterers.
8. TwitPic – a photo sharing tool
TwitPic adds another dimension to the twittersphere by letting you easily share photos on Twitter. You can geo tag the photos and view the site’s google maps mashup. It’s fun to watch photos being added on the map in real time. TwitPic also supports mobile and email uploads.
9. Tweetake – a backup service
If you use Twitter a lot, be aware that Twitter doesn’t save old tweets after a while. That’s where Tweetake comes in. It backs up your followers, tweets, favorites, and its simple interface makes the process a no-brainer. Within a few seconds you’ll get a CSV file containing all your messages. You can open the file with any text editor.
10. SocialToo – a survey and automatic feature tool
Want to survey your tweeple? SocialToo includes the feature to send out surveys to your Twitter stream, and with the power of retweets, you can get some great results. Like Tweetlater, This tool is complete with automatic messages to people who follow you, automatic follow backs, and automatic unfollows when someone unfollows you. You can also subscribe to receive daily statistics about followers and unfollowers, which is
11. TweetStats – a Twitter stats service
TweetStats is more interesting than useful as a tool. It graphs your Twitter stats, including tweets per day, tweet density (what time of day you tweet most), aggregated daily and hourly tweets, replies, and interface used (web vs. Tweetdeck). And since you don’t have to login to use this feature, you can look up other tweeple’s stats, too.
12. TwitThis – a URL sharing tool
TwitThis is a tool you can add to your website or blog to make it easy for people to tweet about you. When clicked, it automatically shortens the URL, lets you add a description, and tweets it to your stream. TwitThis is also available as a WordPress plugin, and has instructions for how to add it to Blogger. You can also add TwitThis as a bookmarklet to send a message through Twitter about any page you’re viewing.
There are many more applications that are useful, like Twirl, or just plain cool, like Twittervision. Mashable has larger list of 140+ Twitter Tools that I’d recommend to any Twitter aficionado. But if you don’t have the time to go through all 140, these twelve, in my opinion, are some of the best.
What Twitter Tools do you use regularly? Which is the most useful? The most fun?