Twitter has evolved into it’s own universe – the Twitterverse, if you will – and with it comes a wide range of tools.
To anyone trying to get into Twitter and understand what it is and how it works, I recommend starting slowly. Walk before you run.
For instance, start with the Twitter client itself. Available on the web and on mobile devices, Twitter.com does a good job with the basics – following, direct messaging, making lists, and checking who has mentioned you or retweeted your tweets.
However, I’ve found a few limitations:
- for the longest time, retweeting without editing was only permitted, however now you can retweet while quoting the original tweet;
- I find that some mentions and some retweets by others do not show up in the Twitter.com interface and this can be annoying;
- there is no scheduling function for post-dating tweets.
These limitations prompted me to look at the layer of clients that sit on top of Twitter and are used for sending and receiving tweets with greater flexibility. Of these, I’ve tried and used the following:
- Hootsuite is the client I like the most because it has a clean interface, allows retweeting with easy editing, permits post-dating tweets and supports tweeting from multiple handles.
- TweetDeck is also nice and can do all that Hootsuite can and a few other things. There is also a cool desktop version that has real-time notification like email clients. While this was initially a welcome novelty, I quickly found that Twitter monopolized my time and even though I could customize the notifications (or turn them right off) I just returned to Hootsuite.
- CoTweet is also a nice interface and supports all of the above.
All of the above clients have free mobile app versions that take only a bit of time to learn how to use. What invariably happens is I end of using multiple tools because each one has a strength that sets it apart from the others. This is not uncommon among Twitter users.
However, the tool that has been rocking my tweeting world recently is Buffer. A beautifully crafted user interface, Buffer essentially enables me to curate my content stream during fixed times of the day or night and queue my content stream. The free version of Buffer allows me to load up to 10 tweets which can be easily customized to be sent at intervals of my choosing.
Twitter automation is a bit of touchy issue out there because there is an increasing amount of spam and bot traffic. I was swayed by data presented recently by Jason Falls and Eric Boggs in Data Driven Social Media in which they showed that automating feeds produced more traffic, but not necessarily conversions. Generating traffic and responses is very important for me, so I have all my Twitter clients notifying me on my mobile device and by email so that I can respond in a timely manner when a person reads something they find interesting and responds. This response time is key to engaging and ultimately converting the respondent.
Overall, Buffer is making me more efficient with my time and enabling me to share more quality information more frequently and across a wider time frame to capture more users’s attention. You can even share directly from Google Reader – which I use for curating my RSS blog feeds – making Buffer even more time-effective.
I’ve also been experimenting a bit with Triberr which also employs a combination of human curation coupled with automation to distribute tweets, but is geared more to the blogging platform at this time.
I am interested to hear about any tools or techniques that you are using to improve the efficiency and quality of your online curation efforts. Please let me know what’s working for you.