We are just about to launch a new website (details coming closer to the end of the week) and Twitter is highly integrated into the framework of the website, so I thought I would highlight some of the better applications you can use with Twitter for Free (mostly).
People often ask me, “what is twitter”. I should just write a post about that, but this is assuming you already know about Twitter, at least a little bit. Some of you Twitterholics will recognize most of the top 5, but be sure to check out the ones at the bottom which I consider up and coming.
What Is Twitter?
If not, I have determined there is no one answer to “what is Twitter“, but for me, it is a free flowing exchange of ideas and thoughts with people who may have never been able to meet or contact in any other way. I have talked to musicians, politicians, and a lot of other ians that I would never have access to before Twitter. It is a two way street of course, but Twitter is far more than just “what am I doing”.
Because Twitter has made their service somewhat open (meaning they provide an API for their systems) there have been many people and companies that have developed great applications and services for twitter. On a side note, I would argue (slightly) that Twitter is at risk of becoming the next AOL without making themselves a true open source project, but that is also for another post.
So if you are looking for some great things to do with Twitter, here is my short list.
1. The Ultimate Desktop Application, TweetDeck
If you read no farther than this first item, you have hit the best right off the top. Tweetdeck is THE desktop application that pulls out the potential that is Twitter. Tweetdeck really deserves a post all its own so I will make this recap brief. Once you get to the point where you are following more than about 25 people on Twitter it is time to install Tweetdeck.
It allows you to add twitter groups to filter out different users (I have a group just for news where all Twitter news feeds like CNN, AP, etc, go so I can see them independently of all my other tweets. You can view Twitscoup which is a live running tag cloud of converstions on Twitter, and of course you can send out new tweets with a shorten URL field for posting links.
2a. Mobile iPhone Apps :: Twitterific
If you have an iPhone (or Blackberry), that will really unlock the potential of Twitter (a Blackberry will do but honestly, the apps really don’t compare to the iPhone, but they do have corresponding Blackberry apps too). Twitterific is the place to start. This free iPhone app is one of the best ways to follow a larger number of people with basic @reply, direct, and tweet functions. You can also see user info and tag favorites within the iPhone app.
Some of the features I like about Twitterific is you can click through to links and photos and they open in a twitterific type browser on your iPhone that allow you to open and close without having to launch Safari. What I have found that you can’t do, is see a list of your favorites, which is something I would like to do, but that is minor for what this app does.
2b. Mobile iPhone Apps :: Tweetie
If you can ignore the name, Tweetie is probably hands down the best iPhone Twitter app available. It costs $3.00 through your iTunes account but is well worth the price. It has far more functionality than Twitterific (the free version) but I don’t find it quite as fast to use. What you can do with this iPhone app that I have not found with any other desktop or mobile app is manage multiple accounts.
If managing multiple accounts is important to you, this is about the only way I know to do it without having to log out and log back into the other account. For that I would have paid $10 for this mobile app. Some of the other things you can do with Tweetie is view @replies on one page. For those who complain that they are overwhelmed by the people following them and replying to them, Tweetie is built just for these popular Twitter divas (I love you. I really do€¦but€¦) who are just so popular on Twitter it is impossible to keep up with effectively on anything else. I am going to pick on Anne Jackson just because I love her blog and her work in general (sorry Anne).
Tweetie is one application that will allow you to still follow the conversation with anyone and everyone that wants to send you an @reply without actually following them. Just tap the button at the bottom for @replies and see all those replies coming in from people you don’t follow. Tweetie also has several unique functions under the “more” section. One that is really wild is the “nearby” link. This will allow you to see who is close to your location by using the GPS on the phone. I used this last time Deb and I went to Gulf Shores and it worked great.
3. Tweet Grader
Do you love stats. Then Tweet Grader is for you. Find out how you are doing amongst all the other Twitter users, find local people using Twitter, and see a host of different stats about your own usage. This and the next one may be the vain uses of Twitter but I find them very very useful to help improve everything about how I use Twitter.
Tweet Grader, if you notice, is a user entered stat grade, and you can check anyone, not just your own Twitter ID (like mine here, still sitting at #6 in Twitter Auburn behind some great people). This has several uses as well but all in all a great stat tool for Twitter.
4. Mr Tweet, the Networking Assistant
This is the most recent addition to my Twitter life. Mr Tweet is quickly becoming the most useful tool that I have found for Twitter. Tag lined as “Your Personal Networking Assistant for Twitter”, it allows you to do three things. (a) find new people based on my recent activities, (b) find recent followers I am not following, and (c) check my own profile and usage stats.
What this does is pull data that you can probably not find by just surfing around. It gives you useful information like how likely the person is to reply to your tweets, how many tweet per day they average, and what their network of followers looks like. You have to follow Mr Tweet on twitter before they will start calculating your information, and it is updated every two weeks.
Being a photographer (even one on Twitter), this is my favorite of all Twitter uses. Twitpic has become an incredible source of information. That actually posted one of the first photos of the US Air flight that crashed in Hudson river here http://twitpic.com/135xa. It ended up almost crashing the Twitpic servers but it showed how useful Twitter is as a journalistic tool for everyday people. This photo was one of the first to circulate the Internet after the crash. It wasn’t by CNN or Foxnews, or MSNBC, it was by a Twitter users using Twitpic.
Twitpic is one of the easiest Twitter tools to use. All you do is sign into Twitpic and they give you an email address that uploads to your twitter account. You can take a photo with your cell phone (for those who have cell phone cameras) and upload it to twitter on the fly, right then and there on the spot. Facebook has done this with their iPhone app so it works in a similar way if you are familiar with how that works. If you don’t have a cell phone with a camera, just use the desktop uploader and start sharing your pics.
Are You Ready for Twitter Now?
So if that isn’t enough for you to ponder on Twitter, there are a few other cool tools of note. With Twitter allowing the use of its API data there are almost endless applications available, but the great ones find a need and build upon that to make something we will find value in using.
- Twhirl (desktop app)
- Hashtags – a great search tool – http://hashtags.org/
- Eventbox – combines all kinds of social sites
- Summize – Twitter search, Summize before Twitter bought them, great job on this one
- Twingly (http://www.twingly.com/) – something I am pretty hip on using right now
- FriendFeed (another combining tool)
- Dial2Do – very interesting tool that might prove very useful
So take the plunge and get started with Twitter. Just don’t tell me no one cares what in the world I am doing. It is far far more than just that. It is a free network to exchange ideas and thoughts with the world. Oh, and if you want to follow me on Twitter, here you go http://www.twitter.com/scottfillmer or @scottfillmer on Twitter.