Twitter user by day, Batman by nightA couple of weeks ago I attended the Dublin Web Summit. Ray Nolan, one of the speakers and Founder of HostelWorld.com and Worky.com, made a comment that stuck in my mind. He advised not to “tweet away your career” as he believes if you’re on Twitter all the time during your work day then you’re probably not doing your work and are therefore potentially less employable.

I would imagine that everyone reading this has at one time said that “so and so” is “always on Twitter”…how do they do it? There’s no big secret. These people are not glued to their PC, dashing out on occasion for a sneaky toilet break. Only 25% of Twitter traffic comes from the website Twitter.com. Most people use a few third party Twitter applications set up that allow them to conveniently update their profile, regardless of where they are.

So what tools can you use to allow you to use Twitter with ease?

  • If you don’t tweet then just listen: Even if you have no intention of getting involved in conversations on Twitter or ‘tweeting’, it can still be a useful tool in terms of consumer insight and competitor analysis. Set up accounts relevant to you, your company and your brand…if only to protect those Twitter names for competitors or those who’d like to impersonate your brand. You can also use Twitter Search to keep an eye out for what’s being said about you or your brand on Twitter. TweetBeep is another simple to use application which is kind of like a Google Alert. You can set up tweet alerts for keywords and then have them sent directly to your inbox. For people who are time poor, this is a great way to keep on top of Twitter chats relevant to your company/clients.
  • Use Twitter on the go: If you have a smart phone then you can download a Twitter app that will allow you to update your profile, keep an eye on followers and do pretty much whatever you need to do on the go. There are many Twitter apps for the iPhone and other platforms such as Google’s Android.  I’ve an iPhone and have used TweetDeck and Twitterific in the past, both of which are free. I now use the official Twitter app…again this is free. This is just a matter of personal preference. I find the official Twitter app clean, clear and easy to use. If you’ve got a BlackBerry then UberTwitter is apparently a handy app to use. Since there are a lot of great apps that won’t cost you a penny, download a few and play around with them and see which one works best for you. You can then check in to Twitter whenever you’ve got some free time – between meetings, when grabbing your morning coffee, sitting on the couch, whenever.
  • Twitter on your Desktop: Desktop applications make it easier to wade through the thousands of Twitter conversations as you can set up groups for your followers and view these in different columns – essentially creating different Twitter streams for different topics. Most of the mobile apps mentioned also have desktop versions so that groups and settings are the same whether you’re using the application on your desktop or on your mobile. Personally, I use TweetDeck and generally have this open on my computer at home or in the office. It allows you to see the latest tweets at a glance from the people you follow and see any mentions or direct messages. TweetDeck has a little summary box that pops up in the top right of your screen to alert you to new tweets/mentions/direct messages. However if you’re like me, you won’t want to be distracted constantly by these notifications but not to worry, you can click into the settings and disable these alerts. Seesmic is a similar desktop application. On both applications you can also search for a particular phrase/keyword and see results in a separate column – a handy way to keep a constant eye on what’s being said about you/client.
  • Tweet Smart: The Twitter mobile app allows you to store draft tweets and send them as and when you like. I generally start my day by checking email, reviewing various alerts and checking out the daily papers. I often spot several things at this time that I’d like to tweet but rather than bug my followers by posting a number of things in one foul swoop, I tend to store these things as draft tweets. Then during the morning/afternoon I simply open the app and click ‘send’ to update my profile. This can be great if you’re up to your tonsils and only have a few minutes spare throughout the day. If I’ve some tweets stored then I can use whatever time I can snag during the day to read other people’s tweets, replying and re-tweeting.
  • Tweet to the Future: If you’re so inclined you can also schedule tweets, drafting them in advance and setting the time/date you want them to go out to the world. I don’t schedule tweets as I prefer to post when I’m actually there in order to respond to replies and engage in conversation…I don’t see the point in automated tweeting as I think the value of Twitter is in the engagement with your followers and not in spewing out as many tweets as possible. At the end of the day you can tweet as much or as little as you like…think quality not quantity. That said if you want to schedule tweets there are a few applications you can use such as TweetLater, FutureTweets and Twuffer.
  • Tweeting for your company/brand: If multiple users need to update one account then, of course, there’s an application for that. One such tool is ‘CoTweet‘ which allows you to set up accounts for the people you want updating the Twitter feed. You can also schedule a tweet to go off at a certain time or assign them to a specific user. TweetFunnel is a similar application which has a publish now or publish later option and you have the ability to review and publish. HootSuite is a nice application that allows you to assign multiple ‘editors’/users, lets you schedule tweets for later, gives you clickthrough reports on your tweets and allows you to manage multiple accounts which might be useful if you’re managing a personal Twitter account and one for work, for example.

A parting tip…Although you can have only 140 characters for a tweet, try to leave 12-15 characters spare each time. This makes it easier for other people to re-tweet your wise words. If you use all 140 characters then you’re putting more work on your followers as they can’t just click ‘re-tweet’…they have to edit your words and most people are too lazy to bother unless you’re saying something really, really interesting.

What are your preferred Twitter tools or tips?