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One of the great benefits of Twitter has been the open API that has allowed third party companies to develop apps and tools using the Twitter platform for the benefit of all Twitter users. These have helped enhance the user experience while also helping to improve native Twitter itself.
However despite the great improvements of twitter.com, more than 60% of Twitter users access Twitter through a third party app. Granted mostly mobile, however many still use third party apps for the extra functionality they offer such as management tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, the latter of which Twitter actually bought out in 2011.
However Twitter tools aren’t merely for ease of use, there are tools that offer much more value to your user experience of Twitter in all the different types of activity you do on Twitter, whether it’s measurement, research or analytics.
‘Twitter tools’ seems to be one of the most commonly used phrases. How often do you see Top 10 even top 100 Twitter tools’ blogposts? The truth is you don’t need to use them all, in fact you may only find one or two very useful. Some tools offer multiple functions, but there are certain tools that are particularly useful for different jobs.
Twitter is now making it easier by integrating new features that have been developed by third party apps, particularly when it comes to sharing images and the improvements in internal search.
Twitter has also blocked access to particular apps, most recently with Instagram, and many apps have found it difficult to continue to generate revenue as a free service and require subscription.
Native Twitter has vastly improved by integrating many of the apps into standard features of the platform, therefore the need to use as many tools has become less great and the list of tools has got shorter.
However rather than list all the great tools on offer and what they can be used for, we recommend the best tried and tested tools for their different functions on Twitter. So here are our Top 10 recommended Twitter tools for 10 different uses of Twitter:
You can learn how to best utilise these Twitter tools on our 12 Days of Twitter course starting on Monday 4th February.
12 Days of Twitter is our unique 12 day course taught completely through twitter over a 12 day period with you working in your own time half an hour a day. Sign up to attend the next course, we’d love to tweet with you and help you to build your account: http://12daysoftwitter.eventbrite.co.uk
If you have been on any of our social media courses either delivered online or in person, it’s likely that you will have heard us discuss the importance of sourcing relevant content to share with your audience on social media.
One of the big 5 questions people always ask us in relation to social media is what will I say?
We emphasise the importance of using dashboards to manage your social media, and as part of these dashboards there is often some integration of RSS Feeds. RSS readers allow the web come to you, help you keep on top of the latest developments in your industry and other areas of interest, helping you to find that relevant content for your social media audience.
One of the main customisable dashboards with RSS we have recommended is iGoogle. iGoogle offers the best customisable dashboard with different ‘gadgets’ with RSS feeds from particular blogs and websites, social media feeds, Google alert feeds , your Gmail account and almost any other ‘gadget’ you could possibly think of. Unfortunately iGoogle will cease to exist from 1st November 2013.
What is likely to take over the space iGoogle has left is a new Google Chrome extension very fittingly named ‘Awesome New Tab Page’. (You may notice the uncanny similarity of the design to that of the new Windows 8)
As brilliant as iGoogle is, the main issue with it is the set up time when installing different gadgets including RSS readers in order to customise your homepage. Awesome New Tab is much easier to customise and has a much more pleasing and interchangeable interface as icons can be moved around with ease and widgets added in seconds.
Integration with Chrome apps
A main part of the appeal of Awesome New Tab Page is the Google Chrome integration, as it is my browser of choice, and I already use many different Chrome apps. If you already use Google Chrome and have apps installed, they are stored for you and you can easily drag them anywhere on to your homepage so you do not lose anything and have a complete homepage, whether it’s your Gmail, Google Drive or any other type of Chrome app you have installed.
The Google Reader app can easily be added to this homepage, meaning that you never have to go to a different dashboard, as all the content links are on every new tab you open. What is fantastic about Google Chrome is that it uses widgets and development is actively encouraged, so new widgets will always be developed to improve your experience, which is why we think this new Chrome app will meet your past requirements met by iGoogle.
There are some other alternatives on the market including NetVibes and myfav.es which will do the job for you if you’re not a Chrome user, however I very much recommend that you become one. The development of different Google apps and intelligent docs that you can incorporate into your work processes help to substantially enhance your web experience and productivity.
As different software and cloud apps/websites continue to battle to be our first port of call when we go online, it is important to find the system that suits you and makes it easier for you to navigate to the sites you want to in one click and use the content that is coming through your streams rather than searching for the content yourself. It is amazing how many Internet users still start their activity online with the blank Google homepage. Save yourself time and make finding content and the sites you need to use easier by finding a dashboard that suits you.
Do you think Awesome New Tab Page will provide you with an adequate alternative to iGoogle?
If you’re a LinkedIn user I’m sure that you are aware of the access you have to analytics for the visitors to your profile. A basic account has statistics on the last 5 users who have viewed your profile and the premium account gives more detailed analytics on visitors to your profile including your appearances in search, the top search keywords for your profile and viewers by industry.
The question is what do you actually do with this information?
Many times it may just be a point of interest, something to note and keep an eye on. However what you may just see as an extra feature of your analytics is being utilised by many LinkedIn users as a way of targeting potential new business leads.
By viewing the profile of a user, they are likely to reciprocate when looking at their own analytics to see that you have viewed theirs. That user then takes a look at your profile to see what type of professional user has been viewing their profile. But what happens after that?
Some users will then request to connect with that person, or join a group that they are in to try and engage or connect. The message may read along the lines of "Saw you checking out my profile, would you like to connect?"
However it was actually that user who instigated the user to look at their profile by looking at theirs first. This is what has now been referred to as ‘LinkedIn flirting’, almost a trigger to instigate an opportunity for engagement on LinkedIn.
The comfort levels at partaking in this activity will vary. Some users would never dream of using this feature to take it this far, however others may see it as a great opportunity.
However whatever your views on the activity it is important to use the analytics to measure the success of your activity on LinkedIn. If nobody has viewed your profile in the last week or two, you may need to review your type and levels of activity on the network. Are you regularly updating your status, contributing to group discussions and commenting on updates from your network?
Let us know what you think of 'LinkedIn flirting'. Is it something you would do or do you see it as too intrusive?
How to report spam on Twitter and make a judgement:
So you’ve seen some acitivity on Twitter that you think may be spam? Have you been through @ReachFurther’s guide to what is definitely spam on Twitter but you’re still not sure? Take a look at these steps below and check if the user is a spammer before deciding to report it, in this the last of our blog series on Twitter spam.
- If you’re unsure, click on the person’s name to view their twitter profile – if they have hardly any followers, a dodgy photo and have sent loads of tweets it’s likely to be a spammer
- Never click on a link that is shared with you by someone you don’t know and appears to be unrelated to anything you’ve been saying or a link unconnected to a direct message conversation
- If you think it could be genuine, send a message to the person to check before then clicking on the link
- Click on the profile of the offender, click on the head icon next to where it says ‘follow’ and click on ‘Report for spam’
If you get stuck, just take a look at Twitter’s guide to reporting spam.
What if I get hacked?
• Go to your settings in Twitter and change your password
• Tweet and DM any people that might have been affected and tell them you got hacked
It’s a good idea to regularly change your twitter password to avoid your account being hacked.
We were promised a makeover for LinkedIN company profile last month, and now the shiny new profiles have been rolled out to all company pages today. In essence the re-design is just that, with little added functionality, just a continuation of the slightly more informal Facebook-style interface development we have seen with the recent re-design of the homepage and personal profiles.
We knew what changes were coming, with a greater focus on images and a streamlined feed, but the new feature launched is the 'Featured update' functionality where status updates can be promoted to the top of the updates on the page. Again taking a leaf from Facebook with their pinning feature.
The main change in the design however is the addition of a Facebook-style cover photo, just as Twitter added header photos to their new profiles a couple of weeks ago.
LinkedIn hope that this re-design will encourage people to engage more with Linkedin company pages. Users are almost being reminded to take advantage of the rich functionality of LinkedIn company pages such as the products and services recommendations.
Coming shortly after the announcement of the ‘Follow’ feature for ‘super users’, it seems LinkedIn hope that following companies, which has yet to really take off, can benefit from this re-design and encourage users to engage and keep updated with companies via their LinkedIn company pages rather than mainly through Twitter.
Here are some of the companies using the new company pages which LinkedIn shared on their blog yesterday:
Now we’ve been through what constitutes spam on Twitter in What is and isn’t spam on Twitter: Part 1. In this post I’m going to cover some of the different types of activities on Twitter that may not officially be regarded as spam by Twitter, however some members of the Twitter community can see this behaviour as spam. Instead of calling it spam, we’ll call it 'Twitter Litter.’
What can be seen by some as spam or ‘Twitter litter’
Here are some of the different types of behaviour that some users may see as spammy, or at least unnecessary, meaningless activity on Twitter.
#FF new followers auto tweets
Some users may use third-party apps to set up automated tweets to send messages sucha as “#FF Thanks for following” and @ mention multiple users. This may not be seen as spam behaviour at all by some users, but it has diminished the real function of #FF Follow Friday, as it used to mainly be used to recommend people to follow with particular reasons or suggestions why someone would want to follow that recommendation to follow. How can you genuinely recommend your followers to follow a user who has only begun to follow you?
Thanks for following @ mentions or direct messages
Again this may not be seen as spammy behaviour at all by some, however the overuse and misuse of this type of function has meant it has become disliked by some users. These messages are usually set up to be automated by third-party apps, therefore little effort and thought has gone into the messages.
Duplicates of the same @replies
This behaviour can be seen as spammy and your account can be seen as inauthentic. If you search for tweets containing keywords related to your area of interest or a particular product you are trying to sell and you reply someone who mentions that product with exactly the same tweet, it can be seen as aggressive marketing. Users want to have conversations about brands and products without being bombarded by sales tweets.
Some people may not consider these actions as spam at all and find them perfectly acceptable, however I feel they have de-valued functions on Twitter people used to use approproately, such as Follow Friday and direct messages thanking for new followers. They’re looking for mass engagement rather than more quality engagement.
I hope that has helped clear up some of the differences between clear spamming activity and what may be seen as acceptable by some. There are always different opinions on the matter and different levels of tolerance so the guides will never been set in stone.
As Twitter says ‘What constitutes “spamming” will evolve as we respond to new tricks and tactics by spammers.’
In the next blog post in our series on spam we look at how to moderate and report spam on Twitter.
Facebook has just begun to roll out their new feature of targeted posts for brand pages. Currently you can schedule, add a location and tag people in your posts, but now Facebook have followed the lead of LinkedIn by allowing you to control which fans of your page see your posts in their news feeds.
The filters you can use include gender, educational status, relationship status, interested in, age, location and language. These are similar filters to those already offered by Facebook advertising. The targeted posts will be able to reach the people most likely to be interested in the specific content you are sharing, meaning the appropriate users can be reached with relevant messages, and the users unlikely to be interested will not be put off by unrelated content.
Facebook says that by targeting your posts will ensure that ‘only the most relevant people will see them in their news feeds.’
The feature is already used on LinkedIn company profiles, and as with the Facebook targeting posts, the success can be determined by how large your audience on the platform already is, to see real value in segmenting your audience.
There is also the risk of missing users that do not have the specific types of information on their profiles included, which could mean they are missed from your targeted posts. It is also important to remember that the posts will also appear on your timeline, so if you do not want all your fans to be able to see the posts, you will need to hide them from your timeline.
However being able to target your posts can be a very powerful way of reaching your specific audience types with targeted messages, using the data Facebook users include in their profiles.
How to target your Facebook page posts
There has been discussion amongst our 12 Days of Twitter delegates recently as to what they think constitutes spam on Twitter, which is often a difficult question to give a definitive answer to.
There are particular actions on Twitter that can easily be determined as spam; however there are also certain types of behaviour that are a little more subjective. So in this two-part blog series I’m going to break down the different elements to help you more easily determine what types of activity on Twitter are spammy and what activity may just be par for the course!
What is spam on Twitter?
These are the actions on Twitter that are definitely considered spam by Twitter itself and the Twitter community. They include actions that are unsolicited, that users haven’t chosen to happen or instigated themselves.
An @mention with an unexplained or unrelated link
Have you ever received unexplained @mentions, often immediately after you’ve sent a tweet? Often you will receive @ mentions with just a link that more than likely have no relation to anything you have tweeted about. They often appear from spammy accounts that tweet the same link at many different users.
You may also receive @mentions that feature links in relation to getting more followers like the ones below.
Direct Messages with unexplained links
Similarly, if you receive a direct message from a user with a link with no explanation, this is also spam. It is more than likely that some of these accounts will have been hacked and may be unaware that they are sending these Direct Messages and that their accounts have been hacked.
So the best thing to do is to have a look at the profile of the user to see if they have a legitimate, genuine Twitter presence. If you get one of these messages, never click on the link (or it will send the same spam message to your followers). If it has come from someone you know on Twitter, send them a DM to say you think they’ve been hacked and recommend that they change their password.
Mass following and unfollowing of accounts
Twitter does not like you to follow and/or unfollow large amounts of users on mass. You may notice that once you follow 2,000 users on Twitter you will not be able to follow anymore until you have as many followers, so you will need to unfollow users to ensure you have at least a 1:1 ratio.
Twitter says that it takes into account whether your behaviour is considered spamming if ‘you have followed a large amount of users in a short amount of time’ and/or if you’ve ‘followed and unfollowed people in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive follower churn)’
You may notice that users will include popular and often trending topics on Twitter, whether they be phrases or hashtags in order to bring attention to their tweets when people search on these phrases, or see them in the trending topics. This is a common example of Twitter bad practice that even major brands have been found guilty of which damaged their brand reputation online.
Trending Topic hashtag hijacking by major brands
Trending Topic hashtag hijacking by spam accounts
These are some of the main types of spam activity you will see on Twitter, however there are other types of activities Twitter also class as spam, including username squatting and the sale of followers. For a full list have a look at The Twitter Rules.
In the next on our blog series on spam we will look at other types of activity on Twitter that can be considered as spam in What is and isn’t spam on Twitter Part 2!
Here is what your Twitter profile will now look like on the new mobile Twitter apps! Twitter announced on their blog earlier today the new re-design with the new update for the official mobile and iPad apps.
The major change is the addition of a 'header' photo as you can see with mine above, with much the same effect as your Facebook Timeline cover photo. This design is also set to be replicated for native Twitter as all profiles will have the same design. Twitter say they want 'express who you are more meaningfully on Twitter.'
The photos you have shared on Twitter will also be able to be viewed on the same photostream by scrolling through. The new change is also interesting as it has moved the position of your Twitter bio. You now need to scroll on the photostream to be able to see your Twitter bio, making it less easily accessible. It will be interesting to see if this will be the same on twitter.com, as it will make it a little more time consuming to navigate to user bios.
The change you can notice at the moment on Twitter.com is the new 'Me' tab which allows you to navigate to your profile page with ease, as the profile icon at the top right of the page is now a settings cog where you can edit your profile.
We're looking forward to seeing how these new profiles will look on native Twitter!
New profiles now live on native Twitter! To activate the new profile just click on the cog icon on the top right of your homepage and select 'Edit Profile'. Click through to the 'Design' section and from there you can upload your header image.
I’m sure by now you will have noticed if you use native twitter that you can no longer see the type of service you have used to send your tweets. Third-party clients such as TweetDeck, HootSuite, Twitter for iPhone etc. no longer have their text displayed with a link to their service underneath a tweet, or even if you click through to ‘Details’.
This continues the campaign from Twitter to limit access to the site for third-party developers. This is clearly bad news for third-party apps that now lose out on advertising on the platform by their own users, but also just shows how they are under the mercy of Twitter, who can change their API to restrict the access to these applications.
Having influential users being seen to be using the applications was a powerful form of advertising. It helped users find new apps to use with different features that a user they respected also used. Why wouldn’t you try using it too? However the value of some of these features have almost been nullified as twitter.com has incorporated many of them.
I always want to know what apps people have used to tweet from. Not only to find new ones, but it also often gives me context to tweets, for example if it is sent from a mobile app, or apps that allow for scheduling such as timely or buffer. I often made judgements on the user and their tweets by the app used!
This will also make it more difficult to know whether tweets have been automated from feeds through apps such as Twitterfeed, which again is frustrating as you do not know whether the tweet is genuine and been sent by a user in real time. So it makes it easier for users to fill their timelines with tweets not contributed by them to be taken as genuine.
People rely on using Twitter through their favourite client. Here at Reach Further we rely on clients such as HootSuite and Echofon for our Twitter use, and have become so familiar with them, that they are our main uses for Twitter.
However it is of course understandable that Twitter wants to encourage people to only access Twitter from their own site and not advertise other applications. In particular in relation to generating revenue from advertising, which is ever-increasing on Twitter.com.
Developers are already not happy at Twitters attempts to restrict third-party access, and this is another sign of yet further to come.