Twitter can be a mysterious beast for even seasoned vets at time. The site is quick, loaded with information and so fast-paced there is simply no way you could read every single tweet from every single user you want to follow. This is why it’s important to find tools and tricks to help you make sense of it all.
Would you like to more easily clean up and manage who you follow? Do you wish you could fish out inactive accounts and rid them from your stream? What if you could more easily search inside of your stream and avoid the noise by narrowing down and uncluttering you feed?
The good news is you can. The bad news is there are so many tips and tools for helping you do this, it can all get a bit overwhelming.
Today we’re going to walk through the process of making sense of Twitter and uncluttering your feed.
Organizing with Twitter Lists
You might know that there are Twitter lists but you might not know that you can use them to organize your own Twitter feed so that you can find what you want when you want and you don’t have to read every single tweet in your stream.
One of the most common complaints I get when helping people with Twitter is that they have too much to read. Being a heavy tweeter myself, I have also heard people say I am “clogging up their feed” with my posts. I don’t take offense to this because I know that they are just new to Twitter and don’t yet realize that they don’t have to read every tweet.
Lists are by far one of the most under-utilized features of Twitter.
Before we get into it, though, there is a small disclaimer about Twitter lists: they can be buggy on mobile devices and only some Twitter apps have the list capability working properly. If you’re going to use Twitter lists, you want to manage them on your traditional browser.
Two of the most popular Twitter tools, TweetDeck and Hootsuite, do allow for adding Twitter streams and/or some management of Twitter lists.
Using Twitter Lists
If you want to use lists, you can do so manually by going to the user’s profile and clicking the icon near the follow button, then click “add or remove from lists.” You can then choose the list you want to add the user to or create a new one.
You can add people to lists without following them. You can have 1,000 lists with up to 5,000 users in each one. You can also choose to make your lists public (others can see them) or private (only you can see them).
Just be sure when creating your lists you take some time with it because they can be a real pain to go back and fix or rearrange later.
You can choose how you want to organize users into your Twitter lists. Here are some examples of how to do that:
- Listing by niche experts
- Listing by relationship
- Listing by location/geography
Twitter lists help you organize your feed and also get past following ratio limits. If you’re unable to follow more people because you’ve hit a limit, you can put those people into organized lists instead and still keep track of their tweets.
Third Party Apps for Managing Twitter
In addition to lists, there are third party apps to help you manage Twitter. Twitter is different from other social media sites because you are not becoming “friends” with someone when you decide to follow them on Twitter.
TweetDeck: TweetDeck is one of the most popular of all Twitter clients. It is available for nearly all devices and operating systems. All you need to do is download it to your device/platform, log into your account and start using it. TweetDeck allows for organizing lists and even hashtag searches in easy-to-read columns. You can also use it to view multiple Twitter accounts so this is a great tool for social media managers.
HootSuite: HootSuite is another very popular client that is close to TweetDeck but with some different uses. It’s entirely web-based and available for nearly all devices. You can create columns, schedule posts, perform and save searches and more. It has a free version and a pro version so you can check it out before you buy it. You can import Facebook and LinkedIn accounts as well so you can manage everything all in one place.
If you’re not interested in these Twitter clients, or in a full blown client at this time, you can try some other, simpler tools to see how they work for you first. Manage Flitter, Social Oomph, Buffer, and TwitterFeed are some examples.
If you’re also going to use Twitter on your mobile device, you may want some tools to make managing Twitter mobile easier. There is the official Twitter app, as well as Tweetcaster, Twitterrific, Echofon, UberSocial, and more. You may want to download and try different mobile apps before you choose the one compatible with your phone that you like the most. Most of them do the same thing, so what you choose is a matter of personal preference.
Twitter Management Tips
Now that you have some tips and tools to get you started, you also need to plan your technique for making sense of Twitter. As the user, it is your responsibility to take control of your Twitter feed and what’s in it. Don’t feel like you have to follow back everyone. You can choose to only follow relevant Twitter accounts so that your stream is more useful to you.
Remember that you don’t have to go down your Twitter stream and try to take it in all at once. You can make lists and categories and go to them as sources when you choose. This gives you control of your feed.
By putting yourself back in the driver’s seat, you can feel confident about your Twitter usage and get the most from this networking/micro blogging site.