Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed Twitter basics, who to follow, and what and when to tweet, all from a writer/creative perspective. The posts have been to-the-point and high level, because, one, the details have been covered by people more Twitter-experty than myself, and two, my goal with this series was to provide a little guidance to writers, specifically, who aren’t using Twitter as effectively as they could be, and writers, I have found, are in general a pretty smart group of people who excel and taking ideas and running with them. In this final post in the series, I’m going to talk about the techniques and tools I use for managing Twitter, both on my desktop and on my phone. I’ll also add some general Twitter “further reading” information at the end for those who want it.
Managing the Onslaught
Twitter can be overwhelming (and a major time suck) if you don’t proactively manage your engagement with it. Unless your account is very focused, you will likely end up following a lot of different kinds of people. That interaction is a big part of what makes Twitter interesting, but you have to have some time in the day to do other things (like write), right? That’s where scheduling and lists come in.
Scheduling Your Time
Scheduling, as I mentioned in a previous post, is simple. Just set aside a few chunks of time daily to engage with Twitter and/or other social media, and then during that time, fully engage: @reply, RT, mention, share, and just plain tweet. How often, how long, and when is up to you. I tend to do some early in the day (especially because some of my tweeps are in the UK and are thus several hours ahead of me) and some later. The folks over at TweetSmarter (always a great place to look for Twitter tips) have an excellent post that goes into some depth about when to tweet.
Lists will save you. Even with my relatively (compared to more long-term and/or well-known users) low follower/following numbers, sometimes it’s hard to see what I want to see, especially because I really do try to not stay on Twitter all day. Lists fix all this by enabling you to sort the people you follow (and people you don’t follow) into public or private lists so that you have multiple sorted streams of tweets instead of one jumbled feed.
You can create as many lists as you’d like. I have four, all of which are public, meaning they can be followed as a whole by others: Writers & Writing, which includes writers, agents, publishers, editors, etc.; Tips, which consists mostly of tech, marketing, blogging, and other “tip” accounts; Reading, which is mostly reading recommendations, and Tweeps, which consists of twitterers who don’t fit into the other three categories but with whom I want to keep in contact. Every time you follow someone, simply add him or her to the appropriate list, and managing that whoosh of tweets becomes easy peasy.
Another way you can organize your Twitter life is by using multiple accounts. I have not yet done that, and maybe I never will, but it is an option to keep in mind, especially if you want to keep certain accounts focused on certain topics.
When you started using Twitter, you may have discovered, as I did, that the default client was not adequate for your needs. Fortunately (or unfortunately, for the time-crunched or indecisive), there is no shortage of Twitter tools out there, many of them very good, many of them free. I’m not going to do an in-depth review of what’s available; instead, this will be a detailed list of what I use and why, for both desktop and mobile tools.
I use a few different tool types when working at my Windows-based PC. Yes, unlike many (most?) writers, my primary computer is not a Mac. I mean, I have a Mac. (And an iPad. And a Windows 7 laptop. And a Windows 8 desktop. Hey, my day job is in IT.) I just don’t use it as my primary computer. So if you use a Mac, you may want to explore other options. Still, the tools I mention are browser-based, so they will work just fine. But maybe there’s something better out there for you, something not available to Windows users. I dunno.
I’ve played around with several tools, both browser-based and desktop apps. The one I’m using now as a main interface, and am very happy with, is the browser-based TweetDeck, created by Twitter. If you have tried TweetDeck and have not loved it before, I recommend trying it again, as Twitter has recently made changes to make it even more usable. The left toolbar allows you to quickly rearrange (via drag-and-drop) your timeline (the main feed), mentions, direct messages, and lists. You can also create lists based on filters, monitor and manage multiple accounts, and schedule tweets. It also allows you to easily edit your lists, as well as change viewing options such as column width and font size. NOTE: There is a downloadable version as well; I use the browser-based one as that’s most convenient for me.
Although TweetDeck does allow scheduling of tweets, when I schedule tweets, I use the more powerful Buffer because it allows me to post to not only Twitter but also Facebook, and some of my posts end up in both places. Buffer is also great for immediate posting to more than one place.
Mobile (iPhone) Tools
As I mentioned above, my computer is Windows-based. BUT. My phone is an iPhone. If your phone is not an iPhone, you will probably have to find other apps as most of my preferred ones are not available for Android.
I haven’t actually settled on a main interface for Twitter with the iPhone. TweetList (the free version, with ads) is the primary tool I’m using now, and I also have Tweetbot ($2.99), which shares many of the same great functions. My recommendation would be to try both and go with the one that feels most comfortable or, if you want to dig into the details, compare the feature lists (available on the pages I linked). Both have very good user interfaces, and both are worth checking out even if you don’t use lists. One thing I do love about Tweebot: the default sounds are distinctive, but not annoying, so when you get some Twitter action, it’s easy to tell without even picking up your phone.
Just as on my desktop, on my phone I mostly use Buffer for scheduling tweets or posting to Facebook and Twitter simultaneously, and for the same reasons.
As Porky Pig would say, that’s all, folks. This wraps up my Twitter for Writers series, and my next post will be more of what you’re used to seeing. One last thing before I sign off: I promised some good linkage for further reading, and here it is.
Twitter’s own FAQ section. Don’t discount the official site in your quest for greater Twitter-fu.
Originally linked by @TweetSmarter, this series about using Twitter in general (not directed at any type of user in particular).
If you know of any more links I should include here, let me know in the comments section. Or, heck, anything else. Like all bloggers, I love comments.