How to be Productive with Twitter – Tools & Tips

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I tried to get into Twitter a few times. It took a while to learn about Twitter productivity, how I can benefit from it and to understand how the 140 characters per Tweet limit is a good thing, as it forces everyone to get to the point.

Over time I've gathered a lot of tips and resources which help make Twitter really useful and not a time waster. I've come to love Twitter and now find it a far superior tool than Facebook or Google+.

I'm happy to share my Twitter productivity tools and hints with you today.

How not to get overwhelmed with Twitter

It's so easy to get spammed with pointless information on Twitter. Most people (friends included) don't realise that nobody cares what they had for breakfast or that they're going to the gym.

And yes, personal notes help to really connect with people on social networks, but many people take it over the edge. You should choose a few people who either post such good content, that it overshadows their personal updates, or whose lives you're genuinely interested in. Cut the rest.

That was one of my big problems with Twitter - I read Tweets from people who were my friends and from time to time posted something interesting. But you have to ask yourself: do you want to be productive or not?

Productivity tools for Twitter

Twitter's website isn't very good for many reasons. That aside, you can't waste time by opening it a few times a day and thinking "did I already read this particular Tweet or did that person Tweet it again and there's unread content below?". Twitter.com just doesn't cut the chase in efficiency.

I've tried a few applications and found that the Silver Bird extension for the Google Chrome browsers works best.

It automatically informs you the number of new Tweets and changes it's color to indicate if there's a mention of your name, search term, tag or something else so you know if it's urgent or if it can wait that time when you batch-read all your Tweets (which you should totally do once or twice a day).

For mobile devices I recommend Hoot Suite (link for 30 days free Pro version trial, but there's also a totally free version). Aside from checking for new messages, like Silver Bird does for desktops, it lets you schedule a Tweet to be send out at a specific time and date, which might come in handy. It also supports multiple accounts and other social networks, like Facebook.

Another useful tool is Buffer. It lets you push a Tweet (or update on Facebook and so on on other social media networks) to a queue, which will be published at certain intervals throughout the day, so your followers won't get spammed and your Tweets will be evenly distributed (and republished a few times, if set up). Buffer is available as addon for Chrome, Firefox and Safari or as an iPhone or Android app.

How to maintain, grow and engage with Twitter automatically

Another problem that I had with Twitter was that I followed people from many areas of my life, like friends, business partners, hobby-related personas etc... In result, I got anxious whenever Silver Bird informed me of a new Tweet - I was hoping it was from someone who I'm really into and check it instantly.

That's not productive. As I said before, you should check Twitter once or twice a day and reply to mentions instantly. Tim Conley of the Foolish Adventure podcast came to the rescue by publishing a great video by Kevin Railsback of Filmmaking Naturally. The video is titled "How To Use TweetAdder To Grow Your Followers & Explode Your Traffic" and rightly so. It shows you:

  • how to find people to follow
  • how to automatically follow back your followers
  • how to set up automatic Direct Messages to your new followers (great for engaging!)

Oh, and speaking of Direct Messages, if you post a Tweet that starts with the letter d followed by a space bar and the @ handle, it's going to go out as a Direct Message (example: "d @eotob This is a DM").

Back to the video: the tool used is Tweet Adder (video author's affiliate link). I also recommend reading comments below the video, which I engaged in. What I found was the solution to my anxiety about new Tweets: you should use lists. Twitter lets you set up public or private lists of people to batch up Tweets from them. You can read those lists in Silver Bird instead of going through the whole Follower stream. I made the following lists:

  • Lifestyle
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Work
  • Webdevelopment
  • Friends

Now I can read updates from Entrepreneurs right away without going into Work related stuff, which is to be done when I'm working.

Not only that - I can follow lots of people using the automatic technique shown in the mentioned video and not get spammed with updates from people I don't really know, but still have the option to go through that stream and discover interesting people if I have some time to kill.

Bonus: Free Twitter header covers and backgrounds

These tools and tips will make you productive as hell. That said, many of your followers will not know about them (unless you Tweet this article! (link created using Click To Tweet - another great tool)) and they'll use the standard Twitter website.

To make it look good, you should set up a Twitter header cover image. You can do it yourself using the free Twitter Header Photoshop Template or download a beautiful header image from the following resources:

As backgrounds go, you can find some good looking art here:

Do you know of any other Twitter productivity tools or tips? Share them in the comments below!

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