Getting More Out of Twitter

Regardless of whether you are into Twitter or not, most people will acknowledge it has been the killer application for 2007. For such a simple application, Twitter has many layers, and it was overwhelming me thankfully my readers helped me out yesterday to get my Twitter magic back.

Martin Weller highlighted that effective management of twitter lies with:

  1. Processes i.e. how many people you choose to follow, how you choose who to follow and your purpose for using twitter
  2. Technical i.e. the tools you use to manage twitter

Processes

It is really important to decide, when you are starting out with twitter, why and how you want to use it (for ideas read Chris Brogan’s Twitter Revisited post and Beth Kanter’s Twitter tips for Non Profits post). How many people you follow will be influenced to some extent by how you want to use twitter. Chris Brogan, who follows close to 2,500 people makes, an excellent point:

Don’t look at Twitter as a great conversation place, especially once you have a lot of friends. Look at it as an idea bank, a place to gather information or think of new things, or see what your friends are doing.

Most comments on my post by my readers indicated that they prefer to limit their numbers of followers and be selective on who they add.

Brian C. Smith said “he tries to limit who I follow to around 150 people based Gladwell’s Tipping Point The Magic Number 150 (research suggests an individual can only have genuine social relationships with 150 people. Groups larger than 150 are prone to fragmentation, and it is often best for the group’s health that it split) and the fact that I find it simply too hard to filter from too many folks”.

Howard tips are:

  1. Rather than follow everyone in a network, select particular people in a network who are well connected with people/areas with which you are interested e.g. I choose not to follow everyone I think is important in education in the World but to pick the eyes out of the network choosing individuals who look interesting.
  2. Selectively filtering followers e.g. selecting tweeters who extend my thinking and feeling versus those who just provide online bubble-wrap/filler

Alan Levine says “he fails to reciprocate on about 95% of the following notifications I get, and only nab the ones for people I know. Maybe every few months, I go in an prune the accounts where there have not been updates in a long time”.

Susan Morgan told me her “solution is to follow people who follow me AND tend to provide good resources instead of chatter. It’s fun to get to know people, but I didn’t have time to go back through pages of tweets each morning either. If it’s important, I’ll see it somewhere!” Check out Susan’s post for more information on how she uses twitter.

They all reminded me that I needed to make the shift to accepting that I will miss some of the conversation as Martin Weller said “like blog posts – you know you can’t read them all, but accept that you’ll get enough of the overall conversation”.

Technicalsnitter

What tools, and how you use them, impacts greatly on how effectively you will interact with Twitter. This was part of my problem — I was not using the best tools for managing twitter how I wanted to i.e. maximising conversation and effectively accessing overnight twitters.

Snitter

Warlach suggested that Snitter would probably help and he was right. You will need to download and install both Adobe Air beta 3 and Snitter Alpha but it is definitely worth it. I have used Google Talk, Twitterific, Tweetbar, the Twitter web interface and Snitter is the absolute best of them (perhaps some may say too good because I have been very prolific on Twitter today). Thanks Warlach!

Bookmark Toolbar

John Pederson told me how to use the bookmark toolbar on Firefox and Safari for faster reading of overnight tweets. Excellent idea providing a quick and fast solution.

John said “set up a folder on that toolbar called “Twitter”. Inside that folder bookmark the twitter pages e.g. Twitter1 for home, then go one page “older” in Twitter and bookmark that, calling it “Twitter1″. Continue doing that until you get to “Twitter10″. Then when you want to quickly scan back through all pages go to the Twitter folder and click on open all in Tabs.

bookmarktwitter.jpg

As John points out you can’t go back more than 10 pages by pressing on older at the bottom of your twitter page but if you ever want to go back further just type the page number in the URL (tip courtesy of Darren Draper) — interesting though you use to be able to use this to go back through your entire history but this is not possible at the moment.

twitterhistory.jpg

Tracking Feature

Martin asks if hashtags may be useful however the tracking feature of Twitter may be the better option.

track twitter

Twitter tracking works by setting it up so that anytime someone sends a tweet containing the keyword you want to track it is sent to your IM client.

So I have set up Twitter to notify me of messages to Google Talk and have switched all the people I follow to notify off (because these tweets are already being sent to Snitter). Then to track a term I click on Twitter in Google talk then type track and the term I want to track e.g. people often use suewaters instead of my twitter name dswaters.

Mobile Web

I use m.twitter.com to interface with twitter on my PDA.

FINAL THOUGHT

There is sooo much to twitter that I am bound to have missed tips. Here is a couple that didn’t fit in the above categories. Gigicolo comment that “I wonder if any programmer is trying to develop an application as I can listen (Yes LISTEN) the twitt while I am driving!” was a good one. Can’t support Kevin’s solution of new twitter accounts because I would lose mine.

Please feel free to provide further tips.

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12 thoughts on “Getting More Out of Twitter

  1. another option for your PDA is tinytwitter – you’ll get a bit more functionality than w/ the mobile site and a bit better user experience.

    just direct your mobile browser to http://m.ttwt.at and you’ll be up and running in a minute.

    Kevin Cawley Reply

  2. Thanks for this research Sue – this is great – I’m with Susan Morgan – I love Twitter for the information people share. As a lover of learning – Twitter is helping to satisfy my appetite.

    Some people read the newspaper over breakfast – I read Twitter instead. Allison

    Allison Miller Reply

  3. Thanks for another helpful post. For me, the Twitter challenge has not been figuring out who and how many to follow. That part’s been easy.

    The bigger challenge, and the more awkward part, has been in getting people to follow me. I suspect that I’m not alone in this regard. As too many of our students know from painful experience, one-way conversations can be pretty frustrating.

    I came relatively late to the Twitter party, and I came without a well established reputation among the edubloggers with whom I hoped to network. So, I was extremely grateful for those who chose to follow me as soon as they noticed I was following them.

    I have found that extending my network of followers has required some intentional effort, as well as a dose of patience. I think this process has been good for my overall professional development, and it has probably made me a more responsible member of the edublogging community.

    I have forced myself to be more outgoing in terms of making comments on others’ blogs. Some of my contributions seem to have been appreciated, and one by-product has been new followers on Twitter. This process has heightened my awareness of just how important it is to do more than just read blogs.

    Still, in a few instances, I have actually contacted people and asked if they would consider following me on Twitter. I generally try to avoid shameless self-promotion, so I have found it exceedingly difficult to take this seemingly presumptuous step. Fortunately, in almost every instance people have been kind and gracious in their responses.

    I don’t yet have the kind of blog that lends itself to this type of reflection, so thanks for the opportunity to do it here. I hope my observations are helpful to others because this is something that I have really struggled with.

    Paul Hamilton Reply

  4. Sue, thank you for your great post. I like to keep my “signal to noise” ratio fairly low; so I don’t tweet everything I am doing. Some people are very prolific! I really like the quote from Howard: select tweeters who extend my thinking and feeling versus those who just provide online bubble-wrap/filler.

    Ralph Poole Reply

  5. Hi Kate – so now that it is ’08 how is your getting into Twitter going?

    Hi Kevin – thanks for telling me about TinyTwitter. I have hidden my PDA at the moment while I am on holidays but when I get it back out I will give it a road test.

    Hi Allison – I am glad you found value in my research. I’m with you. My morning routine starts with reading twitters from overnight then moves onto reading my feeds in Google Reader. Then if time I check the newspaper.

    Hi Paul – can totally understand what you are saying regarding getting people to follow you. In the case of well known people, or people who joined twitter early, they must get to a point where they have to make a decision on who to follow. Which makes it so much harder for people starting out with twitter. The only suggestions I can make is ensure your bio is to the point – so people can easily make decisions and always include a link to your website.

    I agree that my website lends itself more to attracting twitter followers – because each time I write a post on twitter I get more followers. Another way is I am also involved with our local web and blog community in Western Australia – through these f2f connections I have connected with many others. Going to BarCamp really helped me.

    Hi Ralph – I am glad you liked my post. I have to admit being a bit of a serial twitterer however for most of them are replies to people so I don’t overwhelm my twitter network.

    Hi Frances – glad you love Snitter why didn’t someone tell us sooner? 🙂

    dswaters Reply

  6. Hi Sue, sorry to bother you but I wonder if you can help me.

    Ever since I upgraded Adobe Air about 4 days ago, I have had terrible trouble with Snitter. I put it down to Twitter being shaky, but I do no think that is the problem. The only way I can get Snitter to work now is to manually refresh the pane so I get my tweets. So now I have lost synchronicity of Snitter which is what I love so much about it.

    Any suggestions about how I can fix this? Thank you so much.

    Sarah Stewart Reply

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