Since day one, our mission at Trivera has always been to help our client companies become more successful by using Internet technology to improve their brand relationships. And while Twitter is being lauded in many circles as the second coming of the Web, for us, and our clients, it's simply another tool that will either enhance or erode our brands. The first step for most of them is to have individuals within their organizations get acquainted with Twitter itself, and we're finding them quickly getting overwhelmed. So today, I want to begin a discussion about a couple tools that we're using and recommending to help keep Twitter in its proper place.
Millions of conversations are happening at any moment on Twitter. The primary challenge is to figure out which of those conversations are going to be relevant and useful to you and your company. Your corporate strategy will determine who you'll follow and why, who you'll want to have follow you and why. It will dictate the types of conversations you'll want to monitor. And finally, it will help you decide which conversations to simply mine data from, which ones you'll actively participate in, and what your Twitter "personality" will be when you do (a topic for a future blog).
When you only have a few followers, Twitter itself can manage the tweets. And Twitter's search function can allow the casual user to feed their curiosity as to what's going on. However, you'll soon find that your numbers of followers and relevant tweets will begin to grow. And because of the sheer immensity of data, managing the streams of tweets that result will be a task that could take over your life.
Tweetdeck has become the most important tool in my toolbox to keep that from happening. Running as a desktop application on the Adobe Air platform, Tweetdeck gives you up to ten columns to organize your tweets. So instead of having the firehose experience Twitter.com provides, you can manage tweets into drinkable streams.
Tweetdeck's "Add to Group" function allows you to determine who goes into one of your columns. Even though you may have hundreds or thousands of followers, there are only a handful that will provide the meaningful dialogue and relationships that will be at the core of your daily routine. My Tweetdeck is set up so that column one is my "Real Follows"consisting of about 30 people that I regularly monitor and engage. Adding a follower to that group is simple. And if I want to remove someone from that group, that allows me to perform an "unfollow" that still allows someone to be a follow, without having to see every single thing they post.
I have a "Replies" and "Direct Messages" column set up so that I can easily see those conversations. And I also keep a column for all friends so that if I want to take the time to jump into the current torrent of tweets, it's always there... but I keep it all the way over to the right so I have to scroll to get to it.
I also have two columns to subgroup other "friends." One is a group for several industry leaders I follow. Their tweets usually contain great tips, personal insight, industry inside info, and articles. The second group is my news group, where I follow general local, regional and national news sources. I have been able to turn off all my email news alerts, so they no longer clutter my email inbox.
I also use the search feature to create columns of tweets pertinent to specific subject outside of that provided by my "friends." These allow me to find great information about topics of interest, and, because it searches all the Tweets, it helps me find new "follows." I have a column set up to display all the Tweets with the word Milwaukee, but you can use whatever term (or terms) you want to monitor... industry or geographically specific.
With your remaining columns, you have other options. You can display TwitScoop to show the words that are ebbing and flowing in the Twitterverse consciousness. You can display "Favorites," where a tweet you want to view later can be stored before it drops off the bottom. And, if you're like me, you'll keep one column available for an on-demand search for the people, terms and concepts that will come up from time to time.
You can set the number of tweets you want to display in your columns, and filter the column to display only those in that column that meet search criteria. You can mark any tweet as read, and clear those to keep them from cluttering the column. And when a username is displayed in a tweet, clicking it displays their profile, allows you to follow or unfollow and immediately modify what group they should be in.
There are tons of other features in Tweetdeck that will help organize your Twitter experience, and help you maintain your sanity. You'll learn them as you become more familiar with (and thankful for) the tool. One shortcoming is the memory it uses, especially when your followers number in the tens of thousands. But that's a bridge you can cross when you come to it.
Before you jump in and actually begin to tweet yourself...especially if you're representing your company's brand...you'll want to take a little time to "lurk," and get a feel for how things work. And my next blog will talk about how important it is to define your Twitter "personality" before that first tweet. Another future blog will feature another amazing tool that will allow you be a part of the ongoing conversations all day long, even if you only have time to jump in once or twice a day.
|Tom Snyder is Founder, President and CEO of Trivera Interactive, a Midwest New Media firm. Tom is a Web guy, wine snob, music junkie, Ex-Milwaukee Radio Guy, HDTV expert, and political wonk.|