5 Tips for Using Twitter’s ‘Safe’ Clients

PR pros be warned: In response to the amount of third-party clients attracting Twitter users away from Twitter’s own offerings, the social network is cracking down—it has stopped highlighting third-party apps and clients in tweets. In fact, some popular clients, such as UberTwitter, Echofon and Twitterific may soon be shut out from Twitter altogether. 

Whereas Twitter.com used to show and hyperlink the name of apps used to publish tweets, those links are now noticeably absent. The links have also disappeared from Twitter’s mobile apps, and according to VentureBeat, a Twitter spokesperson said the changes are meant to simplify tweets and emphasize the content being shared.

While this may seem like an insignificant detail, it represents the first step towards reducing the exposure use of third-party Twitter clients. Twitter’s director of consumer products Michael Sippey wrote on August 16 that, eighteen months ago, Twitter gave developers of "traditional" Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Echofon guidance that they should not build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.

"While enterprise-level apps like HootSuite and Twitter-owned apps like TweetDeck are safe," reports VentureBeat, "due to the upcoming changes, many consumer-facing Twitter clients will be shut out of the Twitter ecosystem."

While this may be upsetting for PR pros who are fans of those clients, there are still multiple options that will allow PR practitioners to do their jobs effectively. With that in mind, here's a look at how to best use these “safe” clients—HootSuite and TweetDeck.

  1. Make a Home Base: HootSuite allows users to integrate Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ Pages. Rather than launching four different browser windows to track conversations, keep everything in one place. While brand managers should still look at each of these individual platforms on their own URLs to better understand the typical user experience, monitoring each platform from one dashboard can help save time. 

  2. Work as a Team: HootSuite allows members to create multiple teams and control the permission setting for each team member. Administrators can create assignments, such as responding to messages, for other team members. Have someone on your team that handles customer service issues? You can assign them to respond to certain tweets that mention your brand and require their response.  

  3. Schedule and Auto Schedule: Both HootSuite and TweetDeck offer users the ability to schedule posts in advance on each network. However, planning ahead on social media takes some foresight, fresh content and common sense. It’s not recommended to set updates very far in advance (consider how your scheduled lighthearted, fun Friday post might look when it gets published on a day when your organization is enduring a crisis), but scheduling posts can prevent a page from going stagnant overnight and over the weekend.

  4. On August 9th, HootSuite introduced the ability to automatically queue messages for optimal distribution times. Whether you’re sharing a link, an image, or plain text, the auto schedule feature determines optimal posting times to maximize reach without swamping followers. Got a new product or message announcement that you want to reach the most followers, but aren't sure when the best time to post it is? Auto schedule does it for you. 

  5. Use the App Directory: HootSuite's app directory is a collection of extensions and applications that HootSuite users can add to their dashboard to create a customized experience, including Instagram, Storify, Tumblr, YouTube and Flickr. If your brand is using some of these other social media platforms that aren't build directly into HootSuite's main dashboard these apps will allow you to upload YouTube videos, view and add comments and likes on Instagram or view and post to your Tumblr. 

  6. Create Analytics Reports: HootSuite's analytics reports can pull in Twitter profile stats, click stats from its Ow.ly link shortener, Facebook Insights and Google Analytics. Pricing plans vary depending on how many of the 40 analytics modules are used. PR pros can track the volume, visibility and perception of initiatives with teammates to identify successes and opportunities for improvement.

    HootSuite offers a free, pro ($9.99/month) and enterprise solution (price ranges).TweetDeck is free.

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

To learn more about how to produce and report metrics from Twitter and other social media networks, attend PR News' Social Media Measurement Conference on Oct. 2 in New York City.