When communications pros gathered on Nov. 10, 2011, at the Wynn Las Vegas for PR News’ Twitter Conference, the overarching question on their minds—besides where to find the best buffet on the Strip—was how the booming social platform could be best leveraged for business.
And that question was answered throughout the day. Twitter is being deployed to meet a variety of business objectives, including customer service, lead generation and market research—among other uses.
But as Twitter becomes ubiquitous, getting the social platform under some semblance of control—particularly if other applications (like Facebook, Google+ and YouTube) are also in the mix—can be problematic.
To achieve some order, deploying some of the main Twitter tools on the market might be the answer—or it might not, says Heidi Sullivan, VP of Media Research at Cision. Currently, Sullivan is in what she terms an “organic” Twitter mood, using the platform’s existing tools for monitoring purposes. Why? “I think there’s a bit of tool overload,” says Sullivan. Twitter tools should be used to be more efficient and save time, she says, but people often use the tools just to use them.
That’s why it’s critical to have clear objectives in place before you pull the trigger on a tool, says Sullivan. “You need to manage multiple accounts? A Twitter management tool is called for,” she says.
SIZE AND SCOPE MATTER
Of course, what tools you have will depend on the size of your organization and communications staff, and the scope of your social media efforts. Your basic needs will be filled by tools from the influencer, monitoring and the aforementioned management categories, says Sullivan.
Brad McCormick, executive VP, senior digital strategist and managing director at Cohn & Wolfe, says that Twitter tools can give you a complete social media picture, and compares using Twitter to boiling water. “You can have 90% of the heat you need, but the water doesn’t boil.”
It’s the last 10%, adds McCormick, that will bring the water to 212 degrees—the same way that Twitter tools will bring your Twitter activity to a boiling point of engagement.
In this chart, McCormick offers descriptions of some of the best Twitter tools—free and paid—on the market, in five different categories. PRN
Twitter Tool Guide
|Category||Tool||What it Does||Why it’s Killer|
|Allows you to curate based on a simple keyword search or geolocation, and you can even filter by language. (Free)||Lets you see how a conversation between people has transpired, and shows the key details about a user (location, number of followers they have).|
|The most ubiquitous of Twitter clients and largely the default tool for communicators in 2011, it allows management of multiple Twitter streams in real time. (Free)||Enables users to update Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. Manages multiple Twitter accounts easily, using a scheduling feature to check-in or send a tweet in the future.|
|Correlates tweets with a geographical area. This tool allows you to find the most popular tweets, pictures or videos in a geographic area in real time. (Free)||Processes 30 million English tweets per day from over 1,000 cities and posts popular topics on the map in real time.|
|CURATION & PRESENTATIONS||This powerful tool allows brands to curate a large volume of tweets used during an event. For example, the Oscars or Grammys will use this tool to scan tweets coming in sometimes at 300 times per minute for profanity before they are posted on air. (Pay service)||With access to Twitter’s Firehose API, every single tweet is analyzed. Can narrow in on relevant tweets and remove profanity, retweets, spam, etc. Creates custom-designed displays of compelling real-time content on your Web site, Facebook page, mobile app or any digital display.|
|This is the “conductor’s baton” that orchestrates a single stream bringing all social media feeds together. With companies trying so hard to bring people to their Web sites, Feed Magnet is dedicated to keeping them there. (Pay service)||Adds value to a corporate Web site by pulling in content from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, rather than making visitors travel to those destinations.|
|MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS||This Swiss Army Knife of tools allows multiple users to manage social media platforms under one account. This is a great tool for brands that have more than one person managing their Twitter and Facebook accounts. (Limited free/pay service)||Team collaboration feature allows for multiple team users and assignments without sharing passwords. Also has custom automated analytics reports, custom URLS, message scheduling and mobile app.|
|Like a music soundboard, Spredfast is a criteria-based unified platform that pulls in the different instruments to monitor, manage and measure social media initiatives. It also easily integrates with Google Analytics. (Pay service)||Organized and priced around initiatives, Spredfast provides separate tools for listening/aggregating, publishing/interacting, organizing/managing people and brands and tracking/reporting/analyzing campaigns.|
|PUBLISH & PARTICIPATE||This tool automates tweets so you can maintain a social media presence when you are not online. (Limited free/pay service)||The paid version has Tweeting via e-mail, multiple team members, blog scheduling and publishing capabilities.|
|Brands can create content to share, raising awareness for products, events and company news. A button on the bottom of your Web site auto-populates a tweet corresponding to an article, press release or other content, allowing users to spread the content with one click. (Free/pay)||There is the idea of always creating and publishing content, but brands can be curators, too, and Buffer allows you to easily do that through its browser extension.|
||The Archivist allows you to save tweets in order to analyze the volume, identify the top users or determine the keywords associated with your brand. (Free)||Uses Twitter’s Search API (not Firehose) and enables you to archive, analyze, export and share search streams. Great data charts.|