So you started a Twitter account — either for personal or business use — and all of a sudden are wondering: How do I make sense of all these Tweets?! (There were more 12,000 Tweets per second following the 2012 Super Bowl, for instance).
My advice is Lists, a helpful Twitter feature that I haven’t read a lot about in frequently scanning articles about social media. And, to a lesser degree, Saved Searches. No matter the “seriousness” level of your Twitter use, these features can help you sort through the madness of Tweets. If you’re a journalism entity, organizing your Twitter account might also help you come across story ideas, and offer a little something extra to your followers.
I also write this entry because I’ve heard so many people say something along the lines of “I just don’t understand Twitter,” or they’re reluctant to start a profile on it at all — even heavy users of Facebook. It’s surprising, because — in my opinion — it’s features like Lists and Saved Searches on Twitter that are superior even to those offered on Facebook.
As the editor of Nevada Magazine (@Nevada_Magazine), I’ve created a ton of Twitter lists. Most of them align with our regular magazine departments. We have a Cravings department, for instance, so I’ve set up a “Nevada Restaurants” list. We produce two Events & Shows publications, so I’ve set up respective “Nevada Events” and “Nevada Shows” lists. Instead of getting lost in the seemingly endless news feed (found on the Twitter “Home” tab), the lists offer me a more targeted database, if you will, to draw from.
If you’re an editor scanning for food stories, say, then a “Restaurants” list is a strategic way to use Twitter to scan for restaurant openings, reviews … even just to see what eateries people are talking about. After all, social media is a great way to take the pulse of restaurant consumers (and all consumers).
Lists are also great because they provide incentive for your followers — if you make a list public, anyone on Twitter can subscribe to it. We are starting to promote our Twitter lists in our print editions, in fact.
Personally, I am most interested in journalism (particularly fellow editors), social media, and professional baseball and football. Naturally, I have lists for all of these topics on my personal Twitter (@Matthew_B_Brown). If I want to know the latest MLB happenings (especially concerning my beloved San Francisco Giants), I just click on my “MLB” list.
To create a List, go to the upper right of your Twitter screen, and access the pull-down menu from the icon that looks like a person’s head. Click on “Lists,” then “Create List.” You can also click on any Twitter user, and once the info box pops up, simply “Add or remove from lists…” It will also give you the option to “Create List” from there.
2. Saved Searches
Especially if you are a business, I highly recommend doing a Saved Search for your company name (and for other key words, if pertinent). Daily, I click on our “Nevada Magazine” saved search, so I know what people are saying about our product on Twitter. And if you’re counting on people to tag you in their posts … don’t. In my experience, it’s rare that they do.
To save a search, search your favorite subject(s) in the Twitter “Search” box, then click the wheel icon to the right of the Search button, then click “Save Search.”
This handy feature will also help you sift through the clutter, so your Twitter experience can be more efficient and engaging — and you can monitor what is being said about your business or organization, especially if you’re their social media manager. Google+ offers the same sort of structure with “Circles,” but I’ve yet to find the same sort of organizational mechanism on Facebook (am I missing something?).
What other Twitter tips and shortcuts have you discovered? How have you improved your Twitter experience? What are some tips you can share for other social sites, for that matter?