Get Ready to Tweet Your Heart Out!
Though the word "twitter" means "idle or ignorant talk," there's nothing inconsequential about Twitter, the online service that made sharing messages in 140 characters effective. Twitter has been used to share opinions, communicate crucial information in times of emergencies, and even start protests.
There are many ways to use Twitter, including logging in and typing out your tweets (the short messages that form the basis of the service) via the Twitter.com URL. Here we detail eighteen other tools, from mobile apps to desktop applications and web services you can use to maximize the Twitter as a method of expression, or even a tracking and marketing tool.
Of course, we'll start with the official Twitter app for iOS and Android. This app lets you manage multiple Twitter accounts and includes all the core functionality of Twitter, including posting tweets, tracking mentions (when people tag your Twitter username by preceding it with an "@"), sharing updates posted by others (by "retweeting" them), and replying directly to other tweets. The Twitter app also allows users to explore links right within a built-in web browser.
Verdict: Overall, the official softwaresatisfies the needs of most with a 'vanilla' Twitter experience. There are more feature-packed apps out there, though.
Download TweetCaster for Android, iOS
TweetCaster is a feature-rich mobile Twitter app for tweeting on the go. TweetCaster includes support for multiple Twitter accounts, the ability to mirror your tweets as Facebook posts, a Smart Filter feature for sorting through content, a Zip It mechanic for hiding irritating tweets without having to unfollow someone, TweetMarker support to sync your timeline across devices, and more. Best of all, it's free!
Verdict: TweetCaster is a great Twitter client if you're looking for a bit more than what the default Twitter client offers.
Falcon Pro is an excellent paid Twitter client for Android users. A slick gesture-based interface keeps the toolbars and menus hidden (just a flick away), letting you focus on the good stuff: your stream of tweets, retweets, mentions, and DMs. The clean interface also hides loads of features such as Tweet drafting, inline previews of photos and videos, a light web browser and YouTube viewer, profile and contacts management, and more. It doesn't have multiple account support though, which is a bit of a downer on an otherwise excellent app.
Verdict: Falcon Pro is an excellent Twitter client app for Android users for a very reasonable price, so long as not having multiple account support isn't an issue for you.
Plume (formerly known as Touiteur) is a neat mobile Twitter client with a nice, easily customizable user interface that also sports loads of extra features. Multiple account support, geotagging, Facebook posting, picture previews, an internal browser, and numerous filtering options are just the tip of the iceberg. We particularly like the interface customization options that allow you to tweak the app so it's just right for your reading comfort.
Verdict: A nicely customizable interface combined with loads of features make for a nicely usable Twitter client app.
Buffer is a social media management tool that lets you space out the scheduling of your social media posts, tweets, and shares. Rather than swamping your readers with tons of content spammed out in one massive blast of tweets, you can instead queue them up in Buffer and have the app stagger out your posts over a series of hours or days. Buffer also includes a host of analytics tools to examine the stats behind your posts. The app plays well with multiple reader and tweeting apps, such as TweetCaster, Feedly, Tweetings, and others.
Verdict: A simple means to space out your tweets if you're concerned about bombarding followers with content.
CyBranding's Hashtagify.me is a hashtag search engine that helps you look up hashtags and posts that include them. It also gathers data and presents a list of related hashtags. Find out what hashtags relate to each other, discover whose posts influence the hashtag, popular languages used to post about the tag, and more!
Verdict: Hashtagify.me provides loads of interesting statistics about hashtag use, and the premium subscription gives you even more analytics to work with.
Tweriod is an analysis tool that helps you figure out the best time to tweet in order to reach those following you. The service takes a look at your tweets, as well as those made by your followers. It then crunches some numbers, and then gets back to you with a report suggesting particular times in order to maximize your tweeting.
Verdict: A free and simple tool for maximizing the chances that your followers will spot your Twitter activity.
No, it's not a nickname your gregarious frat buddy, it's a surprisingly powerful social media dashboard. SocialBro allows you to track and analyze a wealth of information surrounding your Twitter activity. Search for new followers and filter by location, keywords, influence, and more. Monitoring keywords and hashtags, analyzing good times to tweet, organizing your community with tags and notes, all of these are possible with this social media tool.
Verdict: Overkill for the regular user, but the analytics and organization tools can be quite useful for those using Twitter as a marketing and promotional tool.
The service is available as an iOS app, but you'll also get HootSuite's full functionality through this Windows desktop download or Chrome extension. Hootsuite is built more for digital marketers than personal users. Features include the ability to track multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, keep track of conversations online, and schedule tweets and Facebook posts. It even provides analytics for those who want to crunch numbers.
Verdict: Hootsuite might be overkill for your typical Twitter user. Still, if you really want to track the impact your tweets have, this is the perfect tool.
Like Hootsuite, TweetDeck is available in multiple forms: as a free Windows download, Mac app, and Chrome Extension (the iOS version is not worth writing about). It allows for the management of multiple Twitter accounts and their Facebook counterparts and facilitates multiple configurations for tracking purposes. It's also overkill for your typical user, more oriented towards digital marketers and brand managers.
TweetDeck lacks the scheduling feature that has made Hootsuite popular. However, it places less demand on your Mac or PC compared to its more full-feature competitor. This means you can still keep track of various social media profiles without any unexpected slowdowns on less powerful computers.
Check out: 40 Free and Useful iPad Apps
Don't let the destructive name fool you, DestroyTwitter is actually a constructive contribution to the Twitter ecosystem. It features an ultra-light profile that won't tax even the oldest of PCs (it can run on later versions of Windows at least), consuming only 25MB of memory. The software also has filters that let you block tweets based on different criteria such as username, keyword, etc.
DestroyTwitter is a great bare-bones approach for users whose world consists mainly of their personal Twitter account. The interface is very customizable. There are many color-based themes to choose from and you can quickly expand from the default one-stream size into full-screen mode.
If you're interested in tweets posted from specific locations, here's the Twitter client for you. In most cases tweets are encoded with location information and this is the data Twitter Local uses when it filters tweets based on where they were published. Just type in the phrase you want to search for, then the area where the search should be limited to.
Effective uses of Twitter Local include keeping track of fans for neighborhood establishments, or getting a good feel of what a specific locality is discussing. In any case, make sure to install Adobe AIR first, as that platform is required to run Twitter Local. If you're using a public computer, you can also run location tweet searches at the app's website, TwitterLocal.net.
Twuffer (Twitter + Buffer) is a website that lets you schedule tweets for the future. Just sign in with your Twitter account, select your home time zone, choose your date and time formats and you're set. You can also decide whether or not to allow Twuffer to show your prescheduled tweets on its homepage.
Overall the clean and straightforward interface of Twuffer's dashboard is very intuitive. Scheduling a tweet is a simple matter of typing it out and selecting its scheduled publication time. Twuffer isn't the best for the mission-critical applications. We've found that some of our scheduled tweets were posted too early (or late) by a half-hour at most. Still, if you're ok with the potential delay, then the service will do you no wrong.
Hashtags were invented back in 2007 by Twitter user Chris Messina and consist of nothing more than putting the pound sign ("#") in front of a word to categorize a tweet. They proved so useful that Twitter eventually integrated hashtags into its core service. We now have people using them through phrases like #MyExTaughtMe and #QuestionsIHateBeingAsked.
Enter Twicket, a quick-and-dirty online service that is as effective as hashtags are. Twicket lets you run a raffle by asking other people on Twitter to mark their entries with the hashtag of your choice. You can then enter the hashtag into Twicket and it will automatically choose a random winning tweet, presenting it for your review.
What if you're a Twitter user with thousands of followers and want to choose one or more at random, for say, giving away a prize? Just go to twitrand.com and sign in with your Twitter account. You can then select the number of "winners" you want to be chosen and add an optional congratulatory message. twitrand will then generate a link that shows the results of its own internal raffle, which you can then post on Twitter for everyone to see.
In short, twitrand is another way to hold contests online, through a simple random selection raffle. The service is quite easy to use, and the link it generates is proof that you’ve really selected at random, providing accountability for an online world increasingly (and rightfully) looking for it.
TwitterFall takes the search criteria you provide and creates a stream of tweets that matches your specifications and updates in real-time. You can use it to monitor what people are saying about a certain topic (with hashtags), but there are other tools that can do that much better. TwitterFall is really built for those who want to provide a little more interactivity for their event with Twitter.
For example: Let's say you're hosting Tweet Con 2012, so you create the hashtag #TweetCon2012 to promote it and ask atteendees—plus everyone online—to use it when they tweet about your event. You can then load TwitterFall, ask it to list all tweets containing "#TweetCon2012," and connect the computer to a TV or projector. This will allow attendees to see what people are saying about the event real-time. Just don't use a funny hashtag like #fap2012!
Social Media (which includes Twitter) has grown so big that there are numerous tools designed to track activity on it. Many of these solutions cost a lot of money, but there are also many free alternatives, such as SocialMention. The site lets you look for specific words through popular networks like Facebook and Twitter to see what online users think about the search terms.
SocialMention's power lies in its different statistics, which measure how passionate people are about a topic and how likely they are to talk about it. Note that it's quite possible to limit searches to only Twitter, making this service eminently more useful for tracking and trending tweets. Our only concern is that SocialMention's scope seems to be limited to a few months at most—meaning it's best for looking at current activity on Twitter.
If you're really curious about how others feel about your tweets, you can use Qwitter to keep track of those unfollowing you. The free basic version does just that (and nothing more), with limited tracking for only one Twitter account.
On the other hand, the Pro version—which starts at $2 a month—is much more useful. Not only does it track several accounts, it also helps you determine what kind of tweets you should publish to acquire new followers.
More good news: the Pro version has a 30-day trial, allowing you to determine whether it's really useful at no cost.