You can say a lot of things — positive and negative about Twitter.
Positive: It’s the go-to source, oftentimes, for information about breaking, developing, or in-progress news.
Negative: Whereas once it seemed the “cool” thing opposite Facebook, now it’s been replaced by Snapchat, Instagram, and mobile messaging in that vein.
Positive: If you “get” Twitter and how to use it, it’s a useful tool.
Negative: From a business standpoint, it might be in Yahoo-level trouble.
The above just scratches the surface of pros and cons with Twitter. But look at that second positive — if you “get” it, or really understand how to use it, it can be a useful tool for individual development, learning new things, building a personal brand, or helping grow a business. There are actually dozens of tools baked into Twitter that help with all these aspects. Let’s investigate a few.
Anti-harassment tool: This only recently became available to all users, and that’s been a long time coming. Via a post on their corporate blog called “New ways to control your experience on Twitter,” you can learn how to use it. If you talk to an average person about different social media networks, the major concept that often comes up about Twitter is this harassment/trolling context. On Facebook, you predominantly know the friends you have — and you choose which brands to like/follow. On Twitter, you can post something and, via a series of re-tweets, someone with a gross-sounding username can call you a name based on your opinions. This is the social media “invisible audience,” and a lot of people hate that level of trolling. Kudos to Twitter for fixing it.
Moments: This debuted a few months back. It’s supposed to be kind of a “front page” for Twitter, with news grouped into categories like “World News” or “Haha.” It’s useful for finding different kinds of stories, although admittedly you could find a lot of the same content on Google News, Snapchat brand stories, Facebook trending topics, or popular aggregation sites. It’s not necessarily a “game-changer” for Twitter and how its user base responds to it, but if you’re already navigating conversations inside the app, it’s valuable — mostly.
Twitter Analytics: Twitter Analytics uses a slogan of “Every word, photo, video, and follower can have an impact.” While you’ll likely get followed by a few dozen spam accounts in your Twitter career, this statement is mostly true. You can see a monthly summary of:
Tweets linking to you
Your most popular tweet of a given day, week, or month
Top media tweet (most engagement with a photo or video)
In short, you can learn a lot about how people are interacting with you on Twitter. Now, there are approximately 942,781 external ways to do this — everyone is selling you a solution to “really capture Twitter data!” — but oftentimes it’s just better to use the Twitter Analytics program itself. Yes, there are ways to slice and dice info and followers through other programs, but for most users, Twitter Analytics will offer a lot of insight.
Twitter Engage: This is a companion app for Twitter that helps you glean real-time updates from your network and also helps you avoid missing conversations that matter to you or your business.
Advanced Search: This is a typically-underutilized tool. Here’s a good guide to using advanced search, which allows you to find sales leads in your area. A lot of marketing experts and consultants have been discussing “social selling” for a few years now, but many small-to mid-sized companies don’t see a ton of success with it. Using advanced search is actually pretty effective for pinpointing leads and people you need to know/follow/interact with, however –it is not a super common tactic among marketers. Plus, it’s free to use within Twitter! Try it.
What other tools would you add? (Word of caution: we’d prefer you to mention elements within Twitter, or companion apps, as opposed to commenting “Hootsuite!” or something of that nature.)
Ted Bauer is a freelance writer, editor, and marketer based in Fort Worth, Texas. He’s originally from New York City but has lived in many different U.S. cities. He’s worked for companies as diverse as ESPN, PBS, the Houston Independent School District, and McKesson. He blogs daily at The Context of Things.