Effectively Managing Twitter

A plethora of Twitter tools can help.

I took a critical look at my Twitter stream the other day, and I was a bit dismayed at what I saw. By following too many people too quickly, I was being inundated with many irrelevant and useless tweets overwhelming the tweets that I truly wanted to read. In a larger sense, through hasty followings, I had deviated from my intended path for using Twitter in the first place.

red-craterHave you looked critically at your Twitter stream? Is it laden with the same sort of trite tweets that I receive? Apparently, we are not alone. After a bit of research, I discovered a recent study demonstrated that the vast majority of tweets—upwards of 87.7 percent—border on useless, falling between spam and “pointless babble”. That leaves only one out of every eight tweets actually containing valuable information. Who has the time to sort through that? I certainly don’t, and I suspect you don’t either. So what to do?

I blogged about this problem a while ago (www.solari.net/toward-humanity/2009/08/21/how-useful-is-your-twitter-stream/) and proposed a few solutions. I needed to go further, though, to rectify this problem. As a result, I discovered a number of Twitter tools that can help better manage a Twitter stream and your use of Twitter and social networks in general. I present the tools I most liked and found useful.

One small piece of semantics: when I refer to your friends; they are the people you are following on Twitter.

Why are you using Twitter in the first place? Tools are great, so long as they have a purpose. Knowing that a hammer can pound nails and a screwdriver can drive screws is self-evident. But what are you trying to build with these tools? Knowing that a Twitter tool can do certain things is great, but it’s better to apply that tool to a purpose. So define your Twitter strategy: why are you using Twitter? Elucidate that, and you are well on your way to choosing and applying the particular tools that best suit your needs.

Who are you following? Since your Twitter stream is comprised of the tweets of those you follow (your friends), it makes sense to choose these people judiciously. As for me, I’ve stopped following people who follow me simply because they look interesting. It’s time to be more practical in choosing those I follow, the type of people who are more in tune with the communication topics that I want to know about.

Finding people. Here are a number of tools that let you find and follow people with similar interests and styles.

You can find potential friends who are most relevant to your strategy in a few ways. Twellow (www.twellow.com) allows you to find people by industry, categories, or your own search text, globally or in specific geographic areas. Register on the site, and you can edit your Twitter bio, create an extended bio, and create links to other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn so that like-minded people can find you.

Find people by their influence in particular categories at twInfluence (twinfluence.com). This tool measures influencers by followers, reach, velocity, social capital, and centralization. (Go to the site to see what that all means.) It even ranks the top 50 influencers in each category.

Try whoshouldifollow.com. Type your Twitter username and it returns users based on your account. You can then explore deeper as you see fit. whoshouldifollow works well with a “clean” following list.

Find people who share your interests at SocialWhoIs (www.socialwhois.com). As the site says, its recommendations are ”based on interests and ‘personal relevancy’ instead of popularity”. Search by tag (keyword). When a list is returned, the tool lists all the tags associated with each person as well as a brief bio. You can register and create a bio for yourself. This helps others find you too.

After you’ve found and followed those ideal people, go to TwitterFriends (twitter-friends.com) to get more information about your conversations with them. Or simply use the tool to analyze your conversations with your current followers. The tool maps your followings and followers geographically. (Wow! I have friends on every continent.) You can also enter a username—yours or anyone else’s—to analyze their tweeting behavior.

And finally, there is Twitority (twitority.com) which allows you to search Twitter by keyword and authority. Twitority assumes that those with large numbers of followers are authorities in a particular keyword area. These same people might, however, just be popular or know how to garner many followers. Either way, Twitority is attempting to replace Twitter’s search engine and just might help you find actual authorities to follow.

This is just the beginning of tools that can help you better manage your Twitter account. Remember though, that your Twitter experience is greatly enhanced by the people you decide to follow. Choose well.

–Rich Maggiani

9 Comments, RSS

  1. Frederique Murphy 22 January 2010 @ 3:31 am

    Thanks Rich, that’s a good start and will be useful for people who are starting on Twitter.

    Although, most of these require a lot of manual work, so again, as you mentioned, it all depends on why you are on Twitter, what are your objectives and how much time do you want to spend on it.

    Twitter is a social media tool, so let’s not forget the “social” word, so, for me, I find it natural that people are socialising and are not always talking about business, a good mix is good. And, I know that mix is not always well respected!

    People will follow you because they find you interesting as a person, a real person, not a robot only talking about business, and then, once you have a good network, when you start tweeting some links and recommendations, your followers will click on these as then they trust you.

    It is all about a healthy balance, really.

    Also, using a desktop application to help you sort out your stream could be very useful; with such tools, you can create columns and have your “favourite” twitters, your “business” twitters, your “friend” twitters, your “mastermind” twitters, your “news” twitter, etc. It really helps sort the main stream, which for most people is unreadable; my stream grows by hundred in a minute!

  2. Sean 22 January 2010 @ 10:07 am

    Great topic. Drew me right in. But, I don’t use Twitter this way. I didn’t jump in and add tons of tweeps right away. I’ve gradually added and blocked tweeps over the years, so most conversations are interesting and the people I follow are interesting even if every tweet isn’t immediately useful in some practical way. By controlling who I follow and who follows me, I use TweetDeck fairly effectively to organize Tweets. So, as a result, I do not feel overwhelmed by Twitter spam, useless babble, or anything else. I suspect there are quite a few tweeps who have an organized approach to Twitter.



  3. Char James-Tanny 22 January 2010 @ 10:18 am

    I always look critically at my Twitter stream, and I don’t find many useless tweets at all. Sure, some tweets don’t interest me (eg, anything to do with hockey), but the reason I follow those I do is that I’m interested in most of what they have to say. I have a wide variety of interests, and Twitter helps me satisfy all of them.

    I use TweetDeck to keep everything organized, with columns for either specific accounts or specific searches. On really busy days, some columns don’t get read. That’s OK…there have always been hundreds (heck, millions) of conversations I missed just by not being where those conversations are taking place. The fact that I’m following people doesn’t mean I absolutely have to read everything. It means that the conversations are there when I want to jump in.

  4. techcommdood 22 January 2010 @ 10:47 am

    Using tools like these can be useful to a degree, but I prefer an actual social approach to social media. I follow based on word of mouth and exchange of ideas. I think I used a friend finder once, and it found so many poor matches for my needs/wants that I just gave up. Follow the people you know and who interest you. They will RT others who will be of interest to you; follow those people too. Grow organically. Act socially.

  5. Sue 22 January 2010 @ 12:13 pm

    I do much the same as Char and techcommdood. I have a wide variety of interests, and while not everything everyone says is of interest every minute of every day, each one often says something I want to hear. I’ve never used a friend finder and I do periodically cull people out of my twitter stream when I find more fluff than value (these tend to not be the friends and peers I know). When someone follows me, I’ll go check out THEIR twitter stream first to see if they say anything I may be interested in. I do not add people willy nilly. It is not my life goal to have thousands and thousands of followers, or to follow thousands and thousands of people. As social media, I use Twitter to stay connected to friends, to stay abreast of topics in which I have an interest, and to occasionally see what various organizations say.

  6. techcommdood 22 January 2010 @ 12:28 pm

    As a follow-up, my counter-blog: http://techcommdood.com/?p=339
    And a piece of satire that also falls in line:

  7. uberVU - social comments 25 January 2010 @ 10:17 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by seanb_us: @rjhoughton http://bit.ly/7eNUFt

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