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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Streamlining Your Twitter Routine

Twitter can be an epic timesuck, but it doesn't need to be. Here are some tips to make the most of it, for both creating content and consuming it.

For creating content and tracking activity, consider these suggestions:

  • Use a scheduling tool. This is my single biggest trick for keeping active on Twitter: I use Buffer. Buffer, like Hootsuite and others, is a scheduling tool that lets you schedule tweets to post at a later date and time (and on multiple social media platforms and profiles). You can also use Buffer plugins that work directly in the apps or websites you are using. My routine includes reading relevant stories on Feedly (which aggregates multiple legal news sources and tech blogs), composing tweets with links to interesting content, and using Buffer to schedule tweets throughout the day rather than tweeting them all at once. 
  • Tweet a lot at once. If you have a lot to say on one topic, it's okay to occasionally do a series of tweets in short succession (called a tweetstorm, because why not). This article helps explain the mechanics of tweetstorming, and has links to apps that help. Using tweetstorms too often may be spammy, but it can be a good way to focus your energy on tweeting more detailed content in one big burst.
  • Set up alerts. You should pay attention to retweets and replies to your tweets, but it can be distracting to always have Twitter open. Instead, set up email notifications or push notifications on your phone. That way, you can respond to replies and monitor activity as needed without being lured to your always-open Twitter tab. Conversely, if you get a lot of activity on Twitter and it's a distraction, disable alerts and instead set aside specific time frames to check your account.
  • Don't obsess about follower counts. I don't have a ton of followers, but it's the quality not quantity that matters to me. It takes consistent tweeting and interacting with others to create a meaningful base of followers. You'll frequently gain and lose random followers who have nothing to do with your subject areas -- it may just be someone looking to get followed back (because they, unlike me, are focused on quantity). And occasionally a tweet will make your follower count dip a little immediately afterwards (leaving you to wonder if it was something you said?). For sanity's sake, tune out and pay less attention to the real-time ups and downs of your follower count.
  • Check Twitter analytics. It can be frustrating to feel like no one reads your stuff, which seems like a common lament for law professors generally. But Twitter gives you analytics to help gauge the impact of your tweets (such as total impressions, mentions, retweets, and changes to your follower count over time). You can get a lot of info from Twitter analytics from the web version and more limited tweet activity stats in the mobile app. Social media management tools like Buffer also give you analytics. Of course, focusing too much on these metrics can be a timesuck of its own, but it's fun and, if you notice some content always falls flat, you can readjust.
  • Accept that your activity will ebb and flow. Resolve to tweet more but certainly prioritize other work and scale back as needed. Consistency may be important but going silent for a stretch of time won't necessarily torpedo your efforts. Don't give up just because you took a hiatus.

For consuming content, Twitter moves fast and you will always miss some updates. Accepting this fact is the key to avoiding frustration, but there are ways to tailor what you see and decrease clutter. Twitter "lists" are the main tool, along with using special apps. 

Lists let you group updates from certain Twitter accounts in one view, so that you create a mini-newsfeed on a targeted topic. Once you create a list, you can then click on that list to see tweets from only the list's members. Here are additional tips for using lists:
  • Subscribe to other people's lists. Sometimes other users have already created helpful lists. Rather than reinventing the wheel with a new list, you can subscribe to theirs.
  • Use both public and private lists. Public lists are visible to all, and the list members get a notice when you add them. This is useful because you may want them to know you included them (as long as you picked a flattering list title), and other people may then subscribe to your list. Private lists function as organizational tools and are only visible by you. Members don't know you added them to private lists. 
  • View lists on the mobile app. The location for lists in the mobile app is not ideal, but if you go to the "Me" tab, click on the wheel with spokes, and select "lists," you can see tweets by list.
  • Add accounts to lists without following them. Lists let you add accounts even if you don't follow them. This means that you don't have to clutter up your main twitter feed with updates that go to a list.

In addition to using lists, here are other content management tips:

  • Avoid following binges. It's tempting to follow every account remotely related to your interests, but try not to clutter up your main feed with marginally relevant content. You can always add accounts to lists without also following them. 
  • Unfollow liberally. Declutter your news feed by removing accounts that don't interest you. Most people won't even notice. The only drawback is you'll see fewer replies between other people (which are only visible in your main feed if you follow both accounts), but this may be a good thing.
  • Remove duplicative content. If you read a news source regularly via mobile app or an RSS feed, perhaps unfollow them on Twitter. Decide what to prioritize in what platform.
  • Use a Twitter dashboard. I'll admit I haven't tried this yet myself, but apps like TweetDeck and TweetBot can be especially useful for curating what you see in Twitter. They help you manage multiple accounts, view multiple lists at a time, and otherwise streamline your Twitter usage (some are complete social media management tools that also let you schedule tweets across multiple accounts). Advanced features include muting content based on hashtags or keywords, which seem particularly useful for tailoring what content you see.

I welcome other suggestions in the comments, as I too am trying to implement new management tips in 2017.

Posted by Agnieszka McPeak on December 29, 2016 at 01:27 PM in Blogging, Web/Tech | Permalink

Comments

I recommend abandoning it entirely (perhaps it's a perverse badge of honor, but I'm proud to have never tweeted ... and I don't think I've missed anything of consequence as a result).

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Dec 30, 2016 7:36:03 PM

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