…of Twits & Tweets – Tools for your Twitter toolbox

Apologies for the premature post notification. I still find myself accidentally pressing the Publish button before I’m actually meant to. :blush:

Also, as an anecdotal note, I had initially thought to call this post by a different name, but during my research I discovered an application named after the made-up word I had chosen —Twitterrific!— here I was trying to come up with the silliest name I could fathom, only to find it’s taken.  Go figure. :whistle:

So in order to avoid confusion I’m going with this new one.  😛

So I’ve been using Twitter for quite a while now.  It’s short message format is easy to follow, keep up with, and use on a daily basis.  I’ve found it to be not only convenient and fun, but useful and on occasion even very informative.

For those who’ve been living under a rock  in ignorance of the popular trends in modern communication, Twitter is:

…a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Overall, it does the job quite well, and as I said before it’s so simple to use that even a child could own and manage an account.

But apart from being a good place for keeping in touch with other people who don’t subscribe to using instant messengers, Twitter is also a good repository for your random thoughts and ideas, useful online finds, and your perhaps sporadic but precious pearls of wisdom.  ;P

Also, you may find it useful to know that a twit is the term used to refer to the owner of a twitter account, and tweet is the term used to refer to a short message posted on Twitter.  With that in mind, read on. 😉

Smart Twittering

If you’re about to get into the Twitter world, you’re going to want to get the best out of the service from the very beginning.  The same is true for a user who has been using it since its inception; you want to make your experience as seamless and efficient as possible.
To that end, and for your convenience, here is a list of tools I think you may find most useful:

TweetDeck Preview image

TweetDeck
TweetDeck is a multi-platform desktop Twitter client.  This means you can post, view and manage your tweets directly from your desktop without having to visit the Twitter website.  You can also view tweets posted by friends and those people you’ve chosen to follow all from the one single application.
This application is built on Adobe’s AIR framework and will require you to install the framework before installing the application, but the TweetDeck installer should take care of everything.

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Twhirl
If you don’t like TweetDeck or would prefer another, more compact flavour of desktop Twitter client, then try this little beauty.  This client, also built on AIR, has all the features of TweetDeck, but ups the ante by offering multiple account support, but that’s not where it ends.  Its featureset is rich and packed with quick time-saving functions, all accessible from the small, yet very usable interface.  And for those who are picky about looks, it also boasts the ability to change the colour scheme of the interface. A full list of features is available at a glance from its homepage.
This application is also built on AIR and will run on most, if not all platforms.

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TweetBurner
Once you get the hang of tweeting and sharing links, you may want to start tracking the kind of response those links get from your followers.  With TweetBurner you can view statistics on each and every link you share, from how many clicks, to which is most popular.  It’s a useful tool if you share a lot of links and are interested in statistics.
At the time of writing this site is experiencing some technical difficulties which prohibit the viewing of personal pages and tracking newly added links, but hopefully this will be rectified soon.

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TweetStats

Once you’ve been twittering for a while, you may want some graphical statistical information about your posting habits.  TweetStats offers this in various categories displayed in neat, easy to understand graphs.  In addition to displaying your own stats, it also allows you to see what other topics are currently popular in the twittersphere.
Not much more need be said on this.

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Mr. Tweet

Mr. Tweet helps you easily build meaningful relationships by looking through your network and tweets. He will regularly:

  1. Suggest good people and followers you are missing out on
  2. Recommend you to enthusiastic users relevant to you
  3. Regularly update useful stats of your Twitter usage

I thought of making my own description for this one but I really couldn’t have put it better.  😉

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TwittyTunes
For those of us who use Firefox on a regular basis, this may come in very handy.  TwittyTunes is a Firefox plugin that allows you to quickly share a message about what you’re currently doing from a number of preset messages –from what website you’re currently browsing, to what song you’re listening to
If you want this plugin to be able to post your periodic musical tastes you’ll need to install the FoxyTunes plugin also.  Don’t let that put you off though, FoxyTunes allows you to control your music player (almost all available players) directly from your browser and it’s quite configurable.  It also finds lyrics, covers, videos, artist bios, plust a range of other useful info. A pretty great combo really.

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TweetShrink
If you ever find your tweet being just that little bit longer than the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter, head over to TweetShrink, paste it in there and watch it work its magic.  It will replace certain words with numbers (i.e. to = 2), among other word- shortening gymnastics and shave off those extra precious characters.
While it’s not perfect in its execution, it does sometimes help and worth having in your Twitter toolkit.

Twitzer Preview image

Twitzer
An alternative to having to shrink your messages to make them fit into Twitter’s restrictive 140 character system is to totally blow that out of the water by using Twitzer.  This Firefox plugin will allow you to messages to Twitter as long as you need them to be.  It does this by using the ShortText.com service to host the entire body of text you input, and feeds Twitter the first 140 characters but keeps a link between what’s on ShortText and what’s on Twitter, allow you to De-Twitzer to view the longer text.  But I’m really just making it sounds more complicated than it really is.
Suffice it to say it’s a great tool if you find you want more space to write what you need.

This is only a small sample of the veritable bevy of other tools out there you may find useful. I’ve chosen only to list those I’ve found to be some of the best.

Further Tips

While the benefits you derive from using it hinge largely upon the types of people you follow, there’s no reason why a user who has yet to find decent twits to follow can’t benefit from it for themselves. It all comes down to how you use it.
Here’s a few useful tips:

Do

  • Make a habit of posting your most useful random thoughts and online findings.  You never know when someone else might find them useful.
  • Keep in mind that you may have an audience, no matter how small it may be. Keep them interested.
  • Make use of URL shortening services when posting links, and give a short description of it in the tweet.
  • Check out your followers’ pages and follow them if you’re really interested in what they have to say.

Don’t

  • Post too many nonsensical or silly posts. They may be seen useless or spam by your followers and may lead them to stop following you.
  • Post links that may contain inappropriate or questionable content; or if you must, mark it as NSFW for those who tweet from work during their lunch breaks.
  • Follow every single twit you come across hoping they’ll follow you back.  It’s not really a popularity contest and having thousands of tweets to catch up on doesn’t really help you keep things efficient.

If you have any other useful tips, tricks or suggestions, feel free to list them below.

So, what do you think?