I got a lot of feedback and comments on my post about Why I Was Ready To Quit Social Networking. It seems I’m not alone in my feeling of overwhelm, angst and inefficiency. I received some great tips and advice too including:
We use Hootsuite (hootsuite.com) at the ABN [Australian Businesswomen’s Network] to manager our weekly tweets and Facebook posts. We use it to schedule the ‘absolutely must post’ entries and then supplement with spontaneous post to articles, news etc in real time. In September we’ll be launching a new social media for small business podcast that will address tips and tools for social media use as well as recommendations of social media management tools and applications. Suzi Dafnis, Australian Businesswomen’s Network.
I want to update you as I find new and better ways of managing my social networking and pass on what I learn so that you can benefit. My focus is on productivity and efficiency, rather than strategy – which is a whole other topic.
First on my list is Twitter.
Are you an efficient Tweeter?
How many hours per day do you spend on Twitter – tweeting, RTing or reading other tweets? Do you check Twitter constantly throughout the day or just a few times? Do you schedule tweets or tweet-as-you-go? Do you know when to tweet for maximum impact or do you just tweet when you can? Before I embarked on my drive for efficiency, my Tweeting activity looked like this:
- Tweet at any time, whenever I found a few minutes, when I needed a distraction
- Used Hootsuite to organise Twitter friends into lists and to post across Facebook and LinkedIn
- Only scheduled tweets when I was promoting a new product or service offering
- Worried about not responding or retweeting my friends’ tweets
- Losing track of new followers and not engaging with them
My Twitter habits were far from efficient!
Top Twitter productivity tools
I did a lot of searching for tools to help automate the process. There is no shortage of free and paid tools available. I did notice that some of the tools recommended in posts as recent as 2009/10 were no longer available.
It’s a fast moving world and the rules of the game change quickly. The functionality provided by the social networks also grows, removing the need for some tools that were once necessary. A lesson here, choose your tools wisely and don’t become over-reliant on any single tool. It may not exist tomorrow! Twitter included.
Remember that my focus is on finding tools to help make me more efficient. There are loads and loads of tools, courses and blogs about how to use Twitter, and other social networks, strategically, but that’s not what I’m looking for right now. With that in mind, here’s the tools I’ve explored and used in my quest to becoming more efficient on Twitter.
My first step was to clean out my “friends” – the people I was following. I started out with over 600 people I was following. The reason I wanted to reduce this number is to make my lists more manageable and to bring more focus to the people in my community. I want to engage, not just gather lots of friends. I used Just Unfollow to see who I was following that wasn’t following me and if I didn’t recognise them or didn’t consider they’d add value to my knowledge or that of my community, I unfollowed them. That cleared out 165 people.
This is a paid service but it only costs $12 per year to get started.
You’re probably thinking, she just unfollowed 165 people, why is she now refollowing? Don’t worry, I’m not going crazy. ReFollow is a very handy tool. It not only allows you to unfollow people not following you (I found this one after Just Unfollow) it also lets you do a lot of digging around your followers and friends.
I used ReFollow to identify anyone who hadn’t tweeted for over 15 days (inactives) and then deleted them. No point following people who have nothing to say. There are lots of other things you can do with ReFollow like see who’s following you, that you’re not following, sort by when you started following, search for users who are following another user and search for keywords.
This is also a paid service starting at $5 mth, increasing based on how many people you want to follow/unfollow. There is a free version but you can only see the results of the search. To unfollow/follow, you need to go into Twitter which is a pain.
I’ve been using Hootsuite for a few years and I like it a lot. I tried Tweetdeck as well but just found I liked Hootsuite better and so I’ve stuck with it.
I use Hootsuite to manage Twitter, Facebook Profile, Facebook Pages and LinkedIn. I have my friends organised into lists such as:
- Watch-list (people in my community who I want to build relationships with and who share my target audience)
- Friends & Family
- Small Business Resources (people I can tap into for specific information e.g. copywriters, web designers, graphics etc)
- Subject Matter Experts (a few different lists for people specialising in areas I’m interested in – personal and business)
- Small business network (a very close networking group who I support and who support me – my “go to” group)
- New Follows
- Mentions & Direct Messages
I went back through my lists, recategorised and deleted. I use Hootsuite like a dashboard and now I can see more clearly and quickly what my community is tweeting about.
I use the free version of Hootsuite right now but I have used the paid version previously as I wanted the analytics, RSS feed and bulk scheduling options that the paid version provides.
I know, odd name 😛 Useful tool though. Tweriod analyses your tweets and followers tweets and tells you the best times to tweet to maximise your exposure.
Here’s a screenshot of my results:
It’s free and you can request one analysis per month. There is also a paid option of $2.95 with a PDF download and more extensive analysis.
Timely & Buffer
With Hootsuite, I schedule tweets, based on times my followers are most likely to see them per my Tweriod analysis.
However, only one tweet at a time can be scheduled with Hootsuite, unless using the paid version and even the paid version is a bit cumbersome.
One of the principles of efficiency I learned from my days as a Management Consultant doing process improvement work, is to batch like activities. Tim Ferris also speaks about this in the 4 Hour Work Week.
I don’t want to auto-tweet but I do want to schedule my tweets so that they are spread out over the week, even on the days I’m busy.
I also wanted a tool that would allow me to tweet about articles I read using Reeder on my iPad and other topics of interest I find on various websites while I’m online.
I recently found Timely, thanks to a video by Laura Roeder which you can watch here.
I love Timely because I just send tweets to it and it automagically tweets them out when they’re likely to have highest impact. It’s free and I love it.
I also use Buffer, the Chrome Extension for a similar purpose as it’s quick to post directly from a URL while I’m online.
One of the frustrations I found was keeping up to date and engaging with new followers. I would see an email notification about a new follower pop into my inbox. I’d have a quick look at the person’s profile and maybe follow them immediately or think I’d come back later to engage more but never did.
I’ve now set up a filter in my gmail so that all new followers go directly into the filter and once per week, I go through them all, report/delete the spam followers, take time to review profiles of new followers and then send them a direct message to engage with them. Those that respond in a non-spammy way I then follow and add them to my New Follow list and monitor their tweets. After a week, I decide whether to keep following them or not.
Is it possible to become a super Tweeter in a week?
After a week, I feel much more in control of Twitter. I’m happy with the process so far and feel way less anxiety about it. I won’t say I’ve completely cracked it in one week. There are further tweaks to be made and it’s only one week in so I haven’t tested how the process works over a sustained period. I’ve had to dedicate a few hours to research and setting up my new process but I feel it’s been time well spent.
I’m now following just under 400 people, which is still about 100 too many to be truly manageable I think but I’ll see how I go.
I’m still a bit concerned about personal versus business use and haven’t quite found the right balance but I will take on the advice of Annabel Candy from Successful Blogging and Get in the Hot Spot who left the following comment:
In my experience you should [mix business and personal]. In moderation of course. There are a gazillion business experts I could go to for advice but you’re the one and only Suellen Hughes and that’s why I’m here.
In my experience a little bit of personal (but not toooo personal!) makes business better:)
Thanks for that Annabel.
Looking forward to getting stuck into Facebook next.
Do you have a process in place for managing your Tweets?
What are your must have Twitter productivity tools?
Do you have any questions about any of the tools I mentioned or about my process?
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