Get a handle on Twitter

You can be enthused or turned off by Twitter. While you debate your response, take these tips to fully understand what the networking can do for you.

Tushar Kanwar        Print Edition: January 2012

Twitter tips
In its five years of existence, Twitter has polarised opinions like few other communication mediums-a useful tool, the true democratisation of web communication for some, and an addictive waste of time, a really noisy corner of the Internet for others. If you find yourself agreeing with the latter, maybe it's time you considered some handy tools, tips and tricks to get the most out of your Twitter experience while still maintaining some semblance of a real social life.

USE HASHTAGS: With millions sent out each hour, more so when important events are taking place or news is breaking, tweets can be difficult to follow. Hashtags help you overcome this-just place a hashtag (#) directly before relevant keywords or topics (many events even publicise their hashtags in advance). What this does is allow others to find your tweets easily- most twitter clients let you click a hashtag to see all the tweets associated with it-as well as allow you and others to 'mute' out hashtagged tweets if they're not interested in the event/news. Use them wisely though, too many hashtags in a tweet looks plain horrible!

USE A CAPABLE TWITTER CLIENT: While the Twitter website is getting better to use, it is still woefully inadequate in many departments. With features like custom URL shortening, Twitter style retweets and oldschool comments based retweets-dedicated Twitter clients are still the way to go on a PC/Mac or your favourite mobile device. If you like a 'busy' interface with plenty of columns for your @mentions, specific hashtags, try out Tweetdeck, and for folks who like cleaner lines, try the Echofon apps.

FOLLOW THE RIGHT FOLKS: If you're only following folks you know in the real world on Twitter, it can get to be awfully quiet and boring (depending on who you know, of course!) Twitter has its own built-in search facility to help you find relevant people to follow. You can either see who Twitter suggests under the "Who to Follow", clicking on View Suggestions, Browse Interests or Find Friends or you can use the search box to find something more specific. Search for folks in your line of work or interest, and soon you'll be following and interacting with folks that you may never even have met otherwise. And ever so often, if you end up following too many people, don't be afraid to spring clean and unfollow people.

BE CONSISTENT: Set yourself a daily schedule for Twitter, so you don't overdo it on just one day of the week and remain silent for the rest. Consistency brings with it rewards in the form of new followers and increased interaction. Tools like Buffer and Twilert help as well. Buffer is a really simple tool, in that whenever you read an interesting article on the web, you can send it via a browser extension to Buffer. The Buffer service will send out the tweets well spaced out over the day, so you never flood your followers with too many tweets at once. Twilert on the other hand keeps an eye out for important terms you may want to track on Twitter (say for your brand, competitors or some news you're waiting for), and sends you notifications if these are mentioned on twitter. Think of Twilert like a Google Alerts for Twitter.

ANALYSE THIS: If you're a numbers-driven sort of person, and want to track your Twitter performance, give TwentyFeet a shot. Sign up, and soon you will start receive very interesting graphs on details such as retweets, mentions and followers and how they are changing over time. Tweriod on the other hand tells you when your followers are online and most active on Twitter. Simply drop your username into Tweriod, and it gives you two helpful graphs showing you the time of day and the day of week when you should be tweeting.

Courtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos

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