Depending on who you talk to, Twitter is the best thing since sliced bread, or, it’s a useless social media fad full of marketing spam. The reality is that Twitter fits somewhere between those two extremes. It’s a fantastic way to communicate with people all over the world in real time, and it can yield a surprising amount of incredibly useful information. However, the problem most people have with Twitter is how to filter this data stream and get to the good stuff.
For developers especially, Twitter can be a gold mine of information. You can use it to separate the wheat from the chaff on topics of your choice, keep other developers apprised of what you’re working on, keep in touch with industry innovators, etc. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can use Twitter a bit more intuitively to get to what you want.
The saying “Twitter is busy” is a gross understatement. The sheer amount of content shared on an hourly basis via Twitter can be quite overwhelming. There are many tools that can handle this, filtering information whether you’re looking for a specific topic, the most popular links in a certain category, or only want to hear from a chosen group of individuals. A few of my personal favorites:
Tweetizen: Create targeted groups around whatever keyword you’d like to monitor. Multiple advanced options here, including the choice to choose tweets only from people you already follow.
PostPost: Looks at your timeline and analyzes who you already follow and what you already read to bring up topics, links, photos, and videos you’d be interested in a newspaper-style format.
SlipStream is a Google Chrome extension that once added will give you the ability to actually hide tweets from people, hashtags, and topics that you just don’t want to hear about. Great way to filter your timeline, fast.
Twitter Search is the “official” search engine of Twitter. You can do a basic search here, or, you can check out the more advanced search operators. Protip: want to search for links shared on a certain subject, say, Ultrabook? Try this search syntax: ultrabook filter:links.
Tweetmeme helps you find what’s trending around a wide variety of topics over the last 24 hours to seven days back. This is particularly useful because it helps you aggregate chronological data into a filtered news stream.
Topsy is a Twitter search engine that follows conversations happening around the Web. See what links are being shared on any subject, how many people are talking about those links, sort by relevance and date, even subscribe via RSS to the results.
Seesmic, Destroy Twitter, Hootsuite, and TweetDeck are all lightweight Twitter software clients you can use to greatly streamline your Twitter flow. All of these managers can help you track keywords, create alerts for various searches, and manage multiple profiles across not only Twitter, but other social media networks. If you’ve been looking for something that gives you the ability to be a power user (but you don’t want to spend a lot of extra time and energy doing that), than any one of these command centers ought to do the trick.
I’ve got the tools, now what do I do?
Finding the right tools is just half the battle, young padawan. Here are just a few of the ways you can utilize Twitter to its full potential:
- Supercharge your feeds. Find people who talk about stuff you’re interested in, put them in a group, and you’ve got a filtered set of links/opinions.
- Find developers who are innovating in your field. This is a great way to learn about something you’re interested in building.
- Get answers to your problems. Shockingly, not every answer can be found using Google. Use your hand-picked group of Twitter superheroes to get information and feedback.
Twitter is worth the effort
Twitter is great, but it’s a fire hose of data that can be completely overwhelming without the right tools to filter it. If you’re on Twitter, and you’ve found some good tools to manage what you hear from other developers in your field, let us know in the comments.