13 Essential Twitter Tips

Cody Cardarelli

Say what you will about Twitter, but it’s ubiquity is startling. Consider the following statistics:


•    An average of a billion tweets are sent each week. That amounts to approximately 140 million tweets per day. Per day!

•    When Michael Jackson died back in June 2009, Twitter saw 456 tweets per second. Almost two years later, the record stands at6,939 tweets per second. (That occurred in Japan on New Year’s day.)


•    Twitter is seeing almost half a million accounts being created each day.

The most interesting thing about Twitter is that it’s simultaneously entertaining, informative, connective, distracting, and (potentially) destructive. As with all things multi-dimensional, the key to making the most of Twitter is understanding how to use it. With this in mind, we present a litany of tips. Feel free to chime in with your own (or disparage ours) in the comments section below.

Disable Third-Party Tracking

Rockin’ Chrome?  Of course you are. If so, check out the extension Disconnect, which allows you to disable third-party tracking on Twitter with but a few simple clicks of your mouse button in Disconnect’s options menu. You’ll see exactly the kinds of requests you’ve blocked within the extension itself (like your search history and other personal information), which will give you a bit of peace of mind when you realize just how much your browsing attention is surreptitiously demanded by other web services.

Twitter to Google Reader

You can use the application GTweet to bounce all of your Twitter-based information to your Google Reader account. This Web app is useful for those who would otherwise like to keep their information all in one place. It mimics Twitter’s default functionality to a “T,” and a premium version of the free Web app offers even more interesting features to check out. Find it at gtweetapp.appspot.com .

Automatic Twitter Updates

The trust path to popularity involves spacing one’s witticisms out throughout the day, which is where Web app CoTweet comes into play. The standard edition of the app allows you to schedule your updates throughout the day. Get it at www.cotweet.com.

Twitter Meets Firefox?

Fear not, Firefox users—you are not forgotten. Twitterbar’s Firefox add-on is a pretty unique extension, in that it allows you to send messages directly via Firefox’s address bar. Even better, the extension tells you just how many characters you have left in said address bar message, which is just as good as the functionality offered by Twitter itself.

Encrypt Thy Tweeting

Firefox users, do you want a method for ensuring that you’re always connecting up to an https-based version of Twitter whenever you type the address into your browser (or, conversely, select it via a browser bookmark?) Check out the extension HTTPS Anywhere, which will force your browser to use HTTP Secure whenever you browser over to one of the extension’s supported sites. Information security is important, yo.

Analyze Your Followers

One of the more annoying elements of Twitter is that all these completely random users decide to latch on to your every word and typed interest. Instead of pulling your hair out in trying to decide whether to follow said users or not, check out the Web app Twerpscan ( www.twerpscan.com ). Not only does the app give you a bevy of detailed information about those following you, but you can elect to follow back your fans directly through the app itself.

Twitter and… Powerpoint?

You can add the power of Twitter to any Powerpoint thanks to the helpful tools at www.sapweb20.com. Grab Timo Elliott’s Powerpoint add-ons and you’ll be able to generate real-time slides based on information pulled right out Twitter.

Backup your Tweets

We like the Web app Tweetake for two reasons: One, it’s a super-easy way to save all of your Twitter posts, direct messages, and @ messages (amongst other items) without having to fuss with complicated backup techniques or any of that.  Two, it dumps all of said information into a handy excel file, which gives you Excel wizards a chance to parse the data even further—way more useful than, say, an .html dump of your 140-character messages!

Gauge Thy Popularity

The Web app Mentionmap is great for seeing just how much your small life updates have made an effect on your general body of followers. Fire up the app and you’ll see just how many people have @mentioned you in response to one of your Twitter updates. Now, click on their information, and you can repeat the process through a huge chain of people to see, without a shadow of a doubt, just who’s talking about whom. Grab Mentionmap at www.asterisq.com .

Dump Your Mind

Need to go longer than Twitter’s default 140-character limit per Tweet?  Check out JumboTweet , a service that allows you to literally dump your mind into a given Web field.  The online app will convert convert said chit-chat into a clickable link before automatically posting a snipped of your thoughts to Twitter itself.  Automated verbosity—it’s what Twitter was born to do!

Block Your Drunk Tweets

Oh, Social Media Sobriety Test , where have you been all our lives?  In all seriousness, there are times when your state of mind—impaired or otherwise—is such that posting your thoughts to Twitter might not be the best of ideas.  Thus enters the Social Media Sobriety Test website, which literally administers an online test you must pass whenever you try to post something to Twitter between a set period of hours (which you can customize yourself).  The app comes as an add-on to both Chrome and Firefox.

Privatize your Shared URLs

Let’s be honest—there are some site links that you’d love to share with your closer Twitter friends, but not necessarily the world at-large.  Well, the website Trick.ly has an answer to your woes—it allows you to set up a password-locked URL shortening service .  You can then give said password to your friends, who will need it to access any link you convert to a shortened URL via Trick.ly.

Check URL Shortening Speeds

Interested in the website that will provide your Twitter followers with the fastest possible redirection speed when converting a shortened URL to the full hyperlink?  Check out Watchmouse ’s URL Shorteners Availability page, which lists out a huge number of URL shorteners and their speed as tracked by Watchmouse’s numerous global monitoring stations.  As of this article’s writing, goo.go took top place for reliability and performance.

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