If you’re using twitter professionally, efficiency is important. There are some simple ways to save time without sacrificing substance. Building lists, saving searches, queuing content, and using Tweetfilter can help you keep twitter valuable, effective, and low-cost.
Build lists of the people you want to interact with
You want your audience, influencers, and others to follow you, but you don’t want to be a spammy follower. Good twitter professionals understand that while following another user is one of the best triggers for a follow-back, having a positive relationship with the person you’re following is key to making that succeed. Lists (particularly private lists) are an excellent way to keep track of the people you want to reach and see tweets from them, making it easy to engage with them and build a relationship before following.
Save searches for keywords that provide conversation opportunities or good content
Spammy marketers will use tools to automatically tweet to anyone using certain keywords; this is an awful practice that makes your brand look bad, and rarely drives results. Spend time upfront to identify keywords likely to be in tweets you would want to respond to. Using twitter’s search modifiers [a question mark helps you find tweets that are questions (try with product category keywords), a sad emoticon helps you find negative sentiment tweets (try this with competitor brand names)] can help. Figuring out what the best combinations are and saving them makes periodic checking a breeze.
Queue content as you find it
One of the most time-consuming tasks I’ve had as a community manager has been finding content to tweet. It’s often feast or famine. Using a tool like Timely can be useful for queuing content and tweets as you find it or think of them whether you’re on twitter at the time or not. No worrying about scheduling or bookmarking and coming back to it later.
Use Tweetfilter to help highlight opportunities and filter out time-wasting tweets
My favorite twitter tool, Tweetfilter is a browser extension that (among other nice enhancements) lets you filter tweets by keyword (no more FourSquare check-ins!) or tweet type (filter out @replies, retweets, or tweets containing links) on any stream in twitter (home, profiles, lists, saved searches). Tools like Tweetfilter are precisely why I’m using twitter’s web client again; browser extensions can provide professionals with whatever functionality they need, not just the features each client happens to have.
One of my favorite ways to use Tweetfilter is to use all of the tweet-type filters, showing me just tweets with text and possibly hashtags. These are usually much more conversational than other tweets; an easy way to filter out distractions and just focus on what’s important: engaging other tweeters.