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Mobile App Review: Twitter Tools
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Mobile App Review: Twitter Tools - Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Twitter Tools

Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Twitter Tools

Last March, Twitter turned ten years old, and although many were slow to jump on the bandwagon in 2006, there’s little doubt that today, with more than 332 million active users, the “microblogging” platform is a prime influencer in political, social, religious, business, and entertainment discourse. Whatever your field, there are people at its forefront (and, sometimes just as importantly, people on its fringes) sharing relevant commentary, passing along interesting reading material, and communicating directly with followers about what’s going on in the immediate now. All these years after its shaky launch, it is more than a website; it is a constant, steady stream of information, cultural conversation, and personal expression that cannot be matched for speed or currency in tracking the buzz around any moment’s events, and if you’re still trying to keep up via the basic Twitter.com web interface, you might be missing out on some of the social medium’s strengths. Toward a better understanding of Twitter’s usefulness, here are a few tools worth checking out.

Tweeting itself began as a two-pronged experience. While sitting at a computer, there was the web interface: simple and pretty, it was easy to use, but it required the user to hit the refresh button in order to get the latest tweets. Alternately, if one had his or her settings a certain way, tweets could be delivered to (and sent from) a cell phone via SMS, a functionality that has mostly fallen by the wayside. However, it was a critical piece of Twitter’s success in the early days, especially for tweeters who had not yet made the jump to a smartphone, because you could take Twitter with you in ways you could not yet take very many other web services. Now, there are nearly countless third-party apps for mobile devices and for desktop computers, most offering at least a few features the web interface lacks.

Columned Twitter browsing is practically a must for anyone trying to maintain some kind of order in his or her stream. Apps featuring columns generally allow you to define what kinds of tweets show up in each column, with no limit on the number of columns you can keep track of. You can keep your general stream flowing in the first column, monitor your @ messages in the second, keep up with your direct messages in a third, and reserve a fourth for that select group of friends for whom you want to see every tweet since you last checked. Columns can also be defined by search terms, so if you’re keeping an eye on a certain hashtag or keyword, relevant tweets will be tracked whether you’re following the tweeters or not.

Among clients that allow columned browsing, Tweetdeck proved so popular and useful that Twitter bought the app and (just recently) shut down its status as a PC desktop app. The standalone app is still available for Macs, and Tweetdeck is viewable on any machine in web browsers (at tweetdeck.twitter.com, which saves your preferences). For third-party apps, it’s tough to beat Hootsuite for versatility and keeping track of multiple accounts on multiple social media platforms. Hootsuite’s paid service also offers an extensive collection of analytics and advice. With a web interface as well as mobile apps on every platform, it’s considered the go-to for managers of social media. For slightly less functionality (and therefore more ease of use), Tweetbot 4 (for iOS) offers columned browsing, customizable alerts, and a really nice iPad version that works great with (or without) a Bluetooth keyboard.

It can be time-consuming to get caught up on one’s Twitter stream, especially for those of us who don’t live on Twitter. For a quick glance at shared content via Twitter, Nuzzel (iOS, Android, and web interface) shows you links to articles being shared by people you follow. A quick glance shows you how many times an article has been shared in your stream, and who’s sharing it. It’s also very useful for discovering new accounts to follow, based on people you’re already following. For a fast look at trending content, Nuzzel is a great place to begin your workday so you can understand what’s buzzing in your realm of interest. For those fascinating links you just don’t have time for, Pocket (previously known as Read it Later) can be an indispensable app on every platform, including browser extensions. Once installed on a mobile device, an external link in Twitter can be saved to Pocket rather than read right away. When you have time to sit down and go through your saved content, you can launch the app or visit your personalized Pocket web view, where all the articles are saved in simplified form, all in one place. Browser extensions make it easy to save articles (and tag them) as you’re reading your other news sources as well.

At a healthy and happy ten years old, Twitter appears to be here for the long haul, so if your relationship with it hasn’t grown much in these years, this is a good time to expand your use of the service. Explore a few of these apps and watch its value expand.


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Mobile App Review: Twitter Tools - Executive Leadership Articles

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