11 Twitter Tools for 2011

posted in: Social Media Marketing | 2

Twitter applications are becoming essential for marketers that want to excel at creating value on twitter. Finding conversation opportunities, improving content timing & engagement penetration, and measuring value are all challenging, time-consuming tasks. There are some excellent twitter apps out there, but I’m still finding some big holes that have yet to be filled.

Finding Conversation Opportunities

Twitter is about relationship-building. The last thing you want to do is spam members of your target audience with @replies linking to your product. It’s a complete waste of time, it’ll get you kicked off twitter, and it gives your brand a terrible reputation. You want your target market to become aware of your brand and form a positive association with it by providing value.

Part of that is tweeting high-quality content and watching it spread via retweets and people recommending you (@KISSmetrics is killer at this). But part of it is knowing who you want to interact with, and waiting for the right opportunity to do so. Lists are a step in the right direction for this, but large lists can become as cluttered as your main tweet stream, particularly if a few high-activity tweeters take up 80% of the stream. These are some tools I think would help marketers do a better job of monitoring for conversation opportunities:

  • Better list views – something as simple as showing only the most recent tweet from a list of people. CrowdStatus is okay at this, but the display interface is terrible, adding people is manual & time-consuming, and it includes tweets that are @replies (which are generally of less interest, and are filtered out of your regular tweet stream unless you also follow the person being @replied to.) An option to show 2 or 3 tweets from each person would be nice, too.
  • Supress @replies when viewing an individuals tweet stream – Conversational tweeters are great, but I also want to be able to see what a person tweets about when they’re not tweeting @ someone specifically. A browser plugin or twitter client functionality that showed just the non-@reply tweets when viewing an individual would be useful. I’m hoping superstar twitter filter extension Proxlet will add this functionality.
  • Smarter keyword search – Power users know you can do some crazy things with Google. Twitter has a few advanced options (filter for links, questions, limited sentiment search), but there’s plenty of room for improvement. I’d love to be able to train a search for an ambiguous term to distinguish between what I want and false positives. Being able to search for a keyword that is also my twitter handle without seeing all of my own tweets or @mentions would also be useful. And being able to search for a keyword within a set group of people (followers, people on a list), would be excellent.

Improving Content Timing & Engagement Penetration

  • Scheduling following – First impressions are everything, right? Marketers often schedule content based on an editorial calendar with tweets written far in advance. It would be great to schedule follows so that the freshest content in my stream when people see who I am is also some of my most relevant content to them.
  • Based on followers / hashtag activity, when to tweet (and results) – the “best” time to tweet is a hot topic among marketers, and there’s almost never any discussion about the context of it. Some of the biggest centers of twitter users are on opposite coasts of the U.S. – a 3 hour time difference!
    • WhenToTweet.com does a basic job of analyzing when a user’s followers are most active, but their premium version (analyzing more than 500 followers) has yet to materialize. I’d like to see analysis of all (or at least more than 500) followers, and some nice breakdowns of: how this changes by day, the timezones different percentages of my followers are in, when they’re replying & retweeting instead of just tweeting, etc.
    • When a tweet is sent out can make or break the success of a paid tweet through a platform like SponsoredTweets. It would be great to see them provide this kind of analysis of a user’s followers.
  • See who users frequently interact with – Mr. Tweet used to provide a browser plugin showing who a user most often interacted with, but the data was rarely updated. Everyone wants to understand influence, and relationship building is so much more effective if you’re engaging not just your friend, but their friends too.

Measuring Value

  • More sophisticated follower analysis.
    • How valuable is the channel you’ve grown? (how often do followers retweet people / me, how many followers do they have, how active / engaged are my followers, how many followers are inactive / spammy).
    • What are some of the common / distinguishing traits of of my followers? (keywords in tweets / bio, location break-down, popular follows, most influential people they have following)
  • Tweet-quality scoring – There are many tools that analyze and rate the quality of your account, but few that examine the quality of your tweets themselves. How often are your average public (non-@reply) tweets retweeted / replied to? How often are you one of the first people to tweet content that later gets popular? How readable are your tweets? How original / varied are they?
  • Weekly / monthly tracking of key metrics. Twitalyzer does a great job of providing a dashboard that aggregates multiple influence scores (Klout, twitter.grader, etc.) + twitter stats (# of tweets, # of followers, # of retweets, # of link clicks),  but for agencies, consultants, and in-house specialists, regular reporting and trend history (not at-the-moment checking) is key.

Twitter is providing an increasing amount of value to an increasing number of businesses and individuals. Applications that can add yet more value, and make the value more visible, will profit from it.