Today we’re looking at
- Other Twitter features
- Third party applications
Keeping track of all the interesting people you follow, and keeping up with your own tweeting, can be a challenge. Today we’ll look at a few Twitter features that can help you out, and some third-party applications (i.e. tools made by companies other than Twitter) that can take your tweeting to the next level.
Try at least one tool we’ve discussed below and tell the #UofT10DoT stream what you think! Or suggest one that you think your classmates might like to know about.
Sometimes you will want to focus on certain groups, or check in on some people only sporadically. This is hard to do in the undifferentiated stream of tweets on your Twitter feed, where they are all mixed in together. Why not put them into lists?
Lists can act as subsets of your twitter feed. You might divide the people you follow as:
- Colleagues or services at your institution
- Colleagues and peers across the country/world in a particular field
- Professional or funding bodies
- News accounts
- Social, personal or fun accounts
Twitter has simple instructions for making lists here. Lists can be private, so only you can see them, or they might be public so you can share them with others. You might create a list to bring together the attendees at a workshop or conference, or to focus on the top accounts on a particular topic which you recommend other people should follow. You can share a list by giving people the URL of the list page, or let them view the lists you’ve created on your profile, where they can subscribe to your lists too. Do make sure you add a description, so others can find and subscribe to it.
Unfortunately, Twitter discontinued the ability to search for lists. You can find lists by checking individual profiles for lists that they may have created.
Creating a list from scratch and then trying to fill it is a bit of a pain—there’s no way to add a bunch of people at the same time, so it’s a lot of clicking around. If you’ve got a low follower count right now, we’d recommend creating a few lists anyway and adding accounts as you find them.
You can add an account to a list any time you’re on their profile page. Just click the gear icon and choose “Add or Remove from List”
While we’re on the topic of managing people, you can also block or report people you don’t want to interact with using this menu. See more on blocking users here.
By now you may have figured out Liking. It’s less than a retweet, but more than just reading a tweet. People often like a tweet to bookmark it for later, but they also do so to indicate approval, sympathy, or appreciation (the tweeter will be notified), or in some cases simply to indicate that they’ve seen it.
Like a tweet by clicking on the little heart icon below it.
Likes will be stored in your profile, so you can always come back to them later. Likes can also show up in the tweet streams of your followers.While they don’t show up in your twitter feed, anyone else can check your likes from your profile too, so liking is not private.
The Moments tab, accessed from the top menu, may be more or less useful to you, depending on what you’re looking for (looking to procrastinate? You’ll love it!). It features headlines and popular news stories that you might want to hear about. As noted yesterday, you can also create your own Moments.
Third party applications
The beauty of Twitter is in its simplicity as a platform. However, sometimes you need a bit more functionality. There are some third party applications created by other companies as add-ons to Twitter, to help you out with some of the things about Twitter which you may find a bit overwhelming.
Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter, and is a good way to manage more than one account, if you have more than one (for personal and professional use, or perhaps an individual one and an official one on behalf of an institution). You can use Tweetdeck to split your Twitter stream into columns divided by accounts and create columns for notifications, feed activity, etc. It will import any lists you have made on Twitter too.
Hootsuite is similar application to Tweetdeck, but it allows you also to import other social media accounts such as Facebook, and it is also available as an app for mobile devices. You can sign up using Facebook, or if you prefer to keep Facebook separate from your professional social media use, you can sign up with an email address. It will then ask you to add your chosen social network accounts. You can then add streams of content similarly as in Tweetdeck, and tabs for the different social networks. Hootsuite has a quick start guide to help you set up your account.
Again, you can set up columns for hashtags, lists, notifications, or accounts.
In the U of T Libraries Hootsuite dashboard, we have columns for mentions, our own tweets, scheduled tweets, other U of T Library twitter accounts, and a column for other U of T accounts. We also have columns programmed in to monitor tweets about Robarts Library, Gerstein Science Information Centre, and “U of T” Library.
A couple of other bonuses: When retweeting, Hootsuite will ask you if you simply want to retweet or if you want to quote or copy and edit the tweet. On Twitter, you need to copy and paste the tweet if you want to edit it, which can be fiddly; this does it automatically. With both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you will not see the advertising ‘promoted tweets’ from companies you don’t follow!
Pocket is a bookmarking tool. If you find a webpage via a link in Twitter (or anywhere else), you can save it to Pocket, and then return to it later on. On your desktop computer, you can download and install it into your browser, so you can simply hit a button in your toolbar to save a webpage. When you use Twitter in a browser with Pocket installed, or if you have installed the Pocket app on your smartphone or iPad, a ‘Pocket’ option appears alongside the other options of ‘reply’, ‘retweet’, ‘like’ etc, so you can save it right from the tweet instead of having to open the link. You can also access Pocket on the web, if you’re on a computer which isn’t yours, or where you can’t install it into the browser.
Digg Deeper will deliver the main stories shared by the people you follow on Twitter in an email. To sign up, you’ll need to add your email address, and then connect it with your Twitter (or Facebook) account. This is especially useful if you’re not carrying around a tablet or mobile device and would like to see a summary of what’s been discussed in your feed.
Twuffer allows you to schedule tweets in advance. Why might you want to do this? Perhaps you’re presenting a paper and you’d like to nudge your followers at the conference to attend it. But are you going to remember to tweet in the hour before your talk, when you’re trying to find the room and set up your slides? Schedule that tweet beforehand! Or perhaps you’ve got some brilliant insights you’re dying to share, but it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. By the time your followers wake up, your brilliant thoughts will be buried far down their stream. Write them out, and schedule them for when you know your followers will be online (psst, use Tweriod to find out when the best time is!)
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of applications to help you use Twitter more efficiently. Today’s post was only intended to give you a taste of what’s out there.
Meier, F., Elswiler, D. & M. L. Wilson. “More Than Linking and Bookmarking? Towards Understanding Twitter Favouriting Behaviour.” Proceedings of the Eighth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, 2014. Note that the term “Favourite” is now “Like.”
(We know you are busy! If you’d prefer, here’s the BuzzFeed round-up of this same article: Why We Favourite Tweets, According to Science)