With Twitter’s exponential growth over the past five years, many users are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of tweets that show up in their stream.
As a corporate social strategist, I had to find a way to manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts without feeling overwhelmed. These five tips turned a mammoth task into something manageable.
1. Use a 3rd party client like Tweetdeck, Seesmic, or Hootsuite. All three can be used on the computer or on a smartphone. Hootsuite is the only one that does not have a dedicated desktop application; you use it online.
For personal use, I’d recommend Tweetdeck, as it has the most intuitive user interface–it’s easy to understand and customize. In addition, it now has a tweet scheduling function, so you can pre-arrange for any message to be sent at any time on any day. It’s a huge time-saver, especially for those informational or promotional tweets.
2. In your twitter client, set up a column to follow pertinent hashtags (If you’re new to hashtagging, Mashable has a great post about it). That way, you’re following a more focused conversation. For writers, #amwriting is informative, but very busy. I prefer to follow #MyWana (writer support and community) and #1k1hr (groups of writers aiming to write 1,000 words in one hour–great support and motivation). You can also follow genre-specific tags, like #romcom. To find your ideal hashtag, use the search bar in Twitter, or use a site like Twittag or Tagalus. By dedicating certain columns to certain topics, you’ll feel less overwhelmed by a slew of disconnected updates. This will also make it easier to follow and join conversations–just remember to include the hashtag in your replies!
3. Create Twitter lists to group the people you follow. Then, in your twitter client, you can set up a column that shows updates exclusively from one of those lists.
If you’re new to listing or have NO idea what I’m talking about, these three resources will help:
4. In your client, consider removing the full follower stream (the column that updates you with every tweet by everyone you follow) or at least move it to the far right of the columns, so it’s not the first one you see.
Here’s what my Hootsuite dashboard looks like:
My columns, from left to right: my social media list, my attorney marketing list, the general twitter feed, mentions, and sent messages. In Hootsuite, I keep a separate tab just for hashtags, but that’s only because there’s a huge number that I monitor. For personal use, I’d eliminate the “home” and “sent message” feeds and replace them with my favorite hashtags.
Tweetdeck and Seesmic work in the same way, but Tweetdeck would be more simplified–which is almost always a good thing.
4. Arrange for your tweets to be sent out for you so you’re not spending time throughout the day getting sucked into Twitter. For personal use, I schedule tweets throughout the week, then dedicate a time each evening to actually socializing and connecting.
You can break Twitter down into three types of tweets: informational broadcasting (like sending out a link), promotional broadcasting (sending out information about you and your books; should be less than 20% of your total tweets), and conversation. I sit down on Sundays, usually, pick a handful of links I’ve found useful, and include them in my tweets–adding, of course, appropriate hashtags.
I have a feeling my next Wiley Wednesday will be the anatomy of a tweet!
Some tools that help you schedule your tweets: your twitter client; Buffer, which calculates the times of highest activity for your followers and sends your list of pre-arranged tweets out at those times; Timely does something very similar.
5. Don’t feel like you need to read every tweet that gets posted. Sometimes, to filter through the chatter, I’ll use blURL to give me a list of my home feed tweets that include hashtags; that way, I can browse for useful information and pass over most of the “this is what I had for lunch” tweets. Other times, I’ll set an age limit on tweets, i.e. I won’t read anything more than an hour old. That way, I have fewer updates to read. This is especially good as most tweets have a shelf-life: either the content won’t be relevant anymore, or it will have been retweeted, and you’ll see it in more recent tweets.
Twitter should be fun–not an obligation. Hopefully these tips will help 😀