A few months ago, I wrote an article on the “Top 10 Things New Twitter Users Need To Know To Get Followers.” Twitter is far more than just posting messages to a website anymore, however. Keeping up with current events, building meaningful relationships, and shameless self-promotion are just some of the things Twitter is now used for. And with all of this activity, we can glean meaningful conclusions. Who should you be following? How relevant are you? This article talks about some of the tools that make your Twitter experience more robust.
For each of these tools, you generally need to be following their Twitter profile, which triggers their bot to follow you back. After that, their software keeps track of the relevant information for you.
This has become an invaluable tool for finding the people you “should” be following. They call it “Your Personal Networking Assistant.” It looks through the folks you are following, the topics you tweet on, as well as other characteristics of your Twitter activity, and then recommends other people on Twitter that you should be paying attention to. It has been great for me to find other people that are passionate about software development, but that I just haven’t connected with yet.
Mr. Tweet also shows you influential followers of yours that you are not currently following. This is a great resource for finding those people that slipped through the cracks when they initially followed you.
TwitterCounter is a site dedicated to the statistics of Twitter. It shows you how your friend and follower counts are trending (hopefully upward, right?), how often you post messages, and even calculates a ranking system amongst all Twitter users. As I write this post, I am ranked 16,148. Gonna have to work on cracking the top 10,000.
The other benefit of tracking these statistics is that you can also compare yourself to your friends/colleagues/etc. You can compare all of those stats to two other people at a time, and it even creates some nice charts to visualize the data.
Originally, I was going to talk about this service for the feature that is its namesake. You can enter posts for Twitter, and it will post them on your behalf at a time you designate in the future. Kinda nice when you’re making a specific announcement, or go on vacation for a few days, but want to contribute to the conversation.
But now, they’ve implemented more features, including one similar to Google Alerts. You can enter search terms that are important to you, and TweetLater will email you when someone (ANYONE) uses that term in a Twitter post. This is not restricted to just people you follow…it is listening to everyone that uses Twitter on the Public Timeline. This can potentially be a fire hose of information, so make sure to make your terms specific enough. General terms like “Microsoft” probably would not be recommended. TweetBeep also provides a service like this (far more robust, actually), but they have down since December ’08, so I’m not really reviewing them at this point.
TweetLater will also email you an email digest of all of your replies each day (or hour, if you need that kind of inbox noise), which is nice if you don’t regularly check your replies tab on Twitter.
I first heard about this service when I was looking for a way to know when someone stops following me on Twitter. The way I look at it, if I’m going to make an effort to get followers on Twitter, I should probably also care about which people choose to stop following me as well. Twitterless provides this solution. They used to send an email each day, letting me know who had dropped me. But it seems with their new popularity, it’s once a week now. Either way, it’s good to have some visibility into who is dropping me, and if I really care to (I haven’t done this yet), I could look back at my Twitter stream to see what I was talking about when they dropped me. Perhaps I went on a political rant they didn’t appreciate, or they didn’t like me reminding them that a Zune is superior to an iPod.
Michael Eaton reminded me of a good point in the comments, however. Just because you know who stopped following you, that does not mean you should contact them and ask why. They could have plenty of reasons, and may not want to discuss them with you. Just don’t do it.
Twitterless also has a mapping service that shows me where my followers are located around the world (how about Live Maps, my friends?), and some other features for managing your friends. The reason I use it is primarily for the “unfollow” notifications.
In short, there are TONS of tools for making your Twitter experience more insightful. These are four that I use, but I’m interested to know what everyone else uses as well. Leave me a comment/review on your favorite tools for Twitter. I’m not talking about a Twitter client, but if your client adds some major functionality, I’d love to hear about it.