Written by Darrell Etherington.
Unlike some of the other social networking tools, Twitter doesn’t attempt to bundle all kinds of features and extras into its core product. It’s simple, and therein lies its appeal to many. That said, there are times when I need Twitter to do a bit more, and there are no shortage of tools out there to accomplish just that. Here’s a list of three such tools I’ve recently come across, and why I think they’re great for web working.
Finding interesting people on Twitter can be a challenge, especially if you’re just getting started with the service. With TweepSearch, you gain access to a very valuable person-finding resource thanks to the ability to search users’ bios for keywords. You can either do a broad, network-wide keyword search, or search for any user’s ‘@’ handle to limit your results to that person’s followers.
Once you’ve retrieved results, you can also click on any person’s avatar to limit the search to that user’s followers. Also, you can use a ‘location: place name’ search to filter results according to the location field. I use it to for expanding my network of contacts. It’s also handy if I’m looking for a specific subject matter expert in my area. It could also be useful if you have a long list of followers and you’re looking for someone specific but can’t remember their particular handle.
Not exclusively a Twitter tool, but I find it most useful when applied to this generally disorganized network. PeopleBrowsr is an in-browser solution that sort of works like TweetDeck. It displays the recent tweets of your followers, allows you to post, and provides customizable windows that can view any other posts you might like to cover.
For instance, I took part in an #editorchat on Wednesday night, so I set one window to retrieve all posts by everyone with that hashtag. A third window is set to find local chats, by people in Toronto, where I live, since I find local connections to be some of the most valuable for web working purposes.
PeopleBrowsr has a number of other features; so many, in fact, that I can’t begin to get into them here. I will mention that it supports automatic retweeting, profile viewing, and cross-network searching for finding contacts on Facebook and other places. That said, it can be a bit overwhelming, so proceed with caution.
If you’re a web worker, you probably know the value of a good email signature. It can lead the right people to the right place, and it’s not too pushy to offend people who don’t want to be ‘marketed’ to. Mine has WebWorkerDaily’s URL, my Twitter profile URL, or my personal site’s URL in it, depending on who I’m communicating with.
With Sigpad, you can provide more in your signature, as long as your recipient can receive HTML email. At the Sigpad site, you simply input your username for any network they support, and then they generate a signature of your latest update, and provide instructions on how to use it with a number of different popular email clients. I find it handy with Twitter, since you can provide an example of the type of tweets you publish, instead of asking someone to go look at your profile and then decide whether or not to follow you.
I’m very selective with my audience using Sigpad, since it requires HTML email support, and since I know some will find it obnoxious or gaudy. Still, well-placed usage might help your network to grow.
In a lot of ways, Twitter is still very much a beast that has yet to be tamed. You can use it well, or you can use it poorly, but since you’re probably using it either way, this tools might help you achieve the former.
What tools do you use to improve your Twitter usage?
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