When I sit down to train people who have been using twitter for a while there are two main pieces of advice that make the proverbial lightbulb switch on in their heads. Both just make your twitter account easier to manage – they let you keep track of what’s important rather than feeling swamped by all the stuff you don’t really need.
But first a tip for all of you who say, “I don’t have time to tweet!” – Go mobile. Twitter was designed to be used on the go. That’s why you only have 140 characters. Most phones now have a twitter app already installed, or easy access to one. Think about all the time you spend hanging about in a normal day – waiting for meetings, queuing for a sandwich… Those 2 minutes can be used constructively by replying to a message or composing a suitably witty and informative tweet.
Next – lists. I love lists. Electronic lists, paper lists, post-it notes – I am a big fan. Twitter lists are a bit different but they also help to organise your information, or in this case the people you follow. Do you feel a bit overwhelmed when you log in to twitter? Do you miss the tweets you want to see because there is just too much in your stream? You need lists. Go into Lists from the menu at the top (see screenshot) and create as many as you want.
For example you might want a list of your clients, a list of your competitors, a list of local businesses you want to interact with, a list of experts and gurus, and maybe even a list of celebrities. Then when you log in to twitter, you can choose one of your lists and just see the tweets from your selected people. Trust me, it helps. Try it!
Thirdly, Hootsuite. Tweetdeck does pretty much the same job, but not quite as well, in my personal opinion. Hootsuite (in its own words) is a social media management system. In my words it lets you see all your bits and pieces on one screen rather than having to click on different places to see your mentions, lists, searches, direct messages and so on.
You can have 10 columns in front of you at any time so you can see everything you need, and if you want more you can add another tab for the rest. You can also add another twitter account, if you have one, as well as your personal and business facebook walls and your LinkedIn account. Another advantage is that, rather than linking twitter/facebook/linkedIn to each other, you can write a post then decide which of those networks you want to post it to – just one, or any combination of them all.
Finally, one of my favourite aspects of Hootsuite – you can schedule tweets/posts. So you can schedule a whole week’s worth of intelligent comments, or just a few for the rest of the day if you are planning to be out. You should still pop on to respond to any mentions, and interact generally, but it reduces the distraction of twitter and lets you have a presence and communicate key messages even when you can’t be there in (virtual) reality.
So, do you agree? Do you find that lists, hootsuite and mobile twitter help you? What do you use?