I’ll admit it: I was dragged onto Twitter kicking and screaming.
While I technically created an account back in 2011, it lay completely dormant for three years. When I enrolled in Startup Institute last summer, however, I was advised that if I wanted to be a technical marketer, I would have to be present on Twitter.
For many years, I had resisted the seemingly pointless tsunami of over-sharing I thought Twitter was. But it was time to bite the bullet and do the right thing as a marketing professional.
I have been active on Twitter for approximately 10 months now. And I am utterly addicted.
It’s true that Twitter is an overwhelming stream of voices, as I had feared. But I discovered tools to help me tame the beast, take control of my feed, develop a following and, of course, leverage it for building a brand. Those tools are:
Hootsuite is the ambrosia of Twitter tools — truly a gift from the gods. It’s a robust dashboard to manage social media publishing and monitoring across multiple accounts and platforms.
Hootsuite’s best feature is its customizable streams. The home feed on Twitter can be a jungle — just too much information flying by too fast. You are bound to miss something important. Hootsuite offers great alternatives to the home feed to help you sift through the chaos.
Try these custom streams:
- All @mentions of your Twitter handle.
- All mentions of your name, website or URL. Never miss a chance to retweet or favorite someone who gives you link love.
- Tweets by members of Twitter lists, grouped by topic of interest or professional relationship. For example, you can display a feed of tweets by industry influencers, or a feed of tech and startup news.
- A particular hashtag for a campaign or event.
- Keywords or keyword phrases. This pulls from all of Twitter, not just from your followers or lists. It’s a great way to find conversations you want to participate in. For example, let’s say you’re an accountant. You could check feeds on Hootsuite for mentions of “recommend an accountant," “hate doing taxes," “need an accountant," etc., to find people who need your services.
Buffer is my absolute favorite content publishing tool. You can schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ all in one place. This really cuts down the stress of publishing content on multiple platforms.
While many people use Hootsuite for publishing content, I prefer Buffer’s sleek UI. But what really takes the cake is the Buffer Chrome extension. With that activated, you can visit any page and click the Buffer icon in the top of your browser to schedule a post in a little pop-up window. Super simple!
Even cooler: You can highlight text you want to tweet, right-click and select "Buffer selected text." That pre-populates a tweet of the text, plus a shortened link. You can also right-click an image and Buffer that, too.
In terms of scheduling, Buffer offers three simple options: "Send Now," "Send Later" or "Add to Queue." For "Send Later," you pick the exact day and time you want to send your tweet. If you set up a regular publishing schedule, "Add to Queue" will add your tweet to the next available spot in the queue. Magic.
Crowdfire helps you build and manage your Twitter following. View Twitter users who:
- Recently followed you — so you can follow them back, if applicable;
- Recently unfollowed you — so you can see if you’re losing spammers or real followers;
- Follow you, but you don’t follow them — in case you overlooked following back someone great;
- You follow, but they don’t follow you — to see who you might want to prune from your follow list;
- Have inactive accounts — so you’re not following ghosts.
You can also use the "Copy Followers" feature to scan the followers of a friend, colleague or influencer and easily follow like-minded folks.
Crowdfire also offers an automated direct message (auto-DM) feature to send a note to all new followers. As Boston blogger Steve Garfield kindly warned me, however, auto-DMs are often frowned upon, since they can come across as phony or impersonal. So, it’s best to keep that feature turned off.
How do you find these “influencers” I keep mentioning? One way to gauge someone’s influence on social media is with Klout.
You can sign up for Klout, linking your different social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google+ and Instagram). It measures your activity across all networks, from post frequency to engagement, and spits out a score from one to 100. This "Klout score" is a rough indicator of how influential you are on social media. (But keep in mind: Klout is not the ultimate determinant of someone’s importance. It’s just a tool.)
The Klout Chrome extension displays Klout scores for Twitter users, so you can tell at a glance how active someone is on social media. That way you don’t waste your time following barely-there users with a Klout score of 12, and can target major players who have a Klout score of 70 or above.
Ritetag helps you navigate the craziness of hashtags. It’s a Chrome extension that shows you the effectiveness of a given hashtag. As you type a tweet, it displays the tagged word as either gray (practically unused), blue (moderately popular), green (popular and trending) or red (overused). You’ll see the average reach, frequency and engagement associated with that hashtag. There’s nothing like saying the right thing at the right time to get the most mileage out of your tweets.
What tools do you prefer using? Let us know in the comments!