There are lots of tools for using twitter, some for tweeting and scheduling tweets, some add greatly to existing twitter functionality, others help you manage your followers, and some focus on data visualisation based on twitter’s data.
In generally they are using twitter’s API to pull publicly available data from twitter and presenting it to you in more useful ways.
I’ve tried a lot of tools over the years I’ve been using twitter and these are my favourites.
1; Tools for using Twitter
I am a fan of TweetDeck, I can manage multiple accounts from it, across multiple devices (I have an android phone and an iPad), and it provides multiple columns which is handy for specific searches and for any tweetchats that you join.
It will also let me schedule tweets. There are social media experts out there who say you shouldn’t schedule tweets, and there are examples where it has gone wrong. And there are social media experts who say you should (selectively) schedule tweets.
I do schedule some tweets, including my blog posts, but I schedule them for times where I am online, and able to respond to any interaction. I use TweetDeck for this.
Twitter now allows scheduling from company accounts, and their are other tools out there, Hootsuite is probably the most popular and it has the added advantage of giving you some analytics, although the most interesting data is only available for paid accounts. (See the advantages and disadvantages of Hootsuite).
2; Analysing Twitter
I’ve used Tweroid, which tells you the best time to tweet based on when your followers are online and active.
My profile for weekdays is shown on the right, you can see activity drops off a cliff after 10pm, which is one reason I schedule tweets. It makes more sense to publish at 3 or 4pm than at 9am or 10pm.
This is something I check about once a month, the peak online time has got slightly later over the last year. Possibly because I am involved in twitchats some evenings
I’ve used twittercounter to check some analytics, in the free account you can get some basic statistics and three months worth of data.
The graph on the right shows followers vs following for my account over the last three months, you see that I’ve kept my following number close to my follower number. It’s also on a gratifyingly steady increase.
3; Managing Followers
I use unfollowers.me to track my followers. I’ll generally follow back if the account looks like a real person who is tweeting genuine content, this tool helps me identify fake or inactive accounts. It also shows me who has followed or unfollowed me recently and lets me follow back (or unfollow) from within their application.
There’s another tool around that will validate followers for you called truetwit. I haven’t used it but have been asked to validate my account by people who are using it. Most days I only get a few new followers so it’s easy enough to validate them myself, but I can imagine for those on very popular accounts who want to ensure their followers are real, this would be a time saver.
4; Measuring Reach
If you need to know how far your tweets reach Twitonomy will give you an overview of how your tweets perform. Tweetreach will track how far a single tweet reached, how many times it was retweeted and how much exposure it ultimately got. Hashtracking will track how far a single hashtag reaches.
For detailed analysis of your twitter reach you’ll need to pay for a premium service (I haven’t reached that level yet).
5; Visualising Data From Twitter
To see who is tweeting around the world there’s A World of Tweets, which generates a real time heat map of who is tweeting around the world.
It also ranks countries by tweet volume since it started producing data in 2010. The USA is first, but perhaps more surprisingly Brazil comes in second. Netherlands comes in eighth – producing 2.8% of tweets. Not bad for a country with a population of just under 17 million people.
6; Archive Tweets
One of my favourite ways to store twitter conversations is Storify, it allows you to curate a story timeline based on a hashtag, keyword or contributor names. The story is then available for anyone to read with links retained, plus when you publish it all the people whose tweets you’ve collected receive a notification, which is kind. I’ve used it for various events, here’s one from a PR and social media event last year.
This post comes with a caveat, the market of twitter tools is changing, I went through this list of Twitter tools from two years ago and found that 30% of the tools don’t exist anymore.
Let me know your favourite tools in the comments.
Next week; how companies can use twitter.