Admit it: You might love Twitter as a social network, but you probably don’t love it as a service. Twitter is the Yugo of social tools — it can take you wherever to need to go, but there aren’t a whole lot of bells and whistles. Of course, Yugos probably broke down less often.
Twitter’s simplicity is probably a big part of why it has attracted so many new users over the last four years, but once you master the basics, it isn’t long before you find yourself wishing there was an easy way to unfollow inactive users or send private messages to several people at the same time. The good news is that Twitter makes it easy for developers to create tools that can take your Twitter experience from Yugo to Lexus without too much fuss.
Here are eight Web applications that you can use to kick your account into a higher gear. Note: For simplicity’s sake, I won’t get into full Twitter clients, mobile apps or analytics tools today — those weighty topics will have to wait for their own posts.
- GroupTweet: Twitter gives you the option to send a private message to another user with its Direct Message feature — but what if you want send that message to more than one person? You could copy and paste the message over and over for several users — or you could use GroupTweet to take care of everyone at once.
- twtpoll: Twitter can be a great tool for soliciting feedback, but tallying up those responses can be a pain. By using twtpoll, you can turn you simple query into a poll or survey question in wide variety of formats — and twtpoll even tabulates the results.
- Twittercounter: This handy app allows you to update your Twitter account via e-mail. It even passes along any replies your tweet might receive. This is an excellent workaround if you want to post an update but the computer system you are using doesn’t allow you to access Twitter via a Web browser.
- TweetBeep: If you want to stay abreast of what people are saying about you (or your brand or your blog post) on Twitter, but you don’t want to have to obsessively check the site all day, TweetBeep is the answer to your prayers, sending you regular updates on any search terms you choose to give it.
- TwitLonger: This one is a little controversial, but Twitter’s character length is one aspect of the social network that many new users struggle with. TwitLonger offers a convenient workaround, allowing long tweets to be continued on another page via a custom link. Many Twitter purists will tell you that tight, pithy posts are part of what make makes Twitter such a great platform — and I have to say that in 99% of all cases, they’ve got a point. Most of the time, you’re better off just writing an irresistible headline and then directing followers to your website for more info. But for those rare occasions when a long tweet is justified, TwitLonger is there for you.
- TweetShare: Twitter may only grant you 140 characters, but a picture is worth 1,000 words. Too bad Twitter doesn’t easily support sharing multimedia content. Tweetshare isn’t just about posting content online, however, it’s also about inviting discussion. Even when Twitter begins supporting multimedia content with its next big update, having a way to organize a conversation around that content will still be a valuable tool to have in your arsenal.
- Twitter for Busy People: When I’m tweeting for work, I’m all about the latest links and info. But my personal account is geared toward my social life and keeping up with friends — some of whom are pretty prolific tweeters. The beauty of T4PB is that it groups together tweets by individual users, so I can quickly check up on what a particular person has been up to lately, without having to wade through everyone’s tweets.
- ManageFlitter: Why let inactive users and fair-weather followers keep your following total artificially high? ManageFlitter identifies the dead weight and then helps you cut it right out.
What other Twitter apps are you using? What are some things you’d like to do with Twitter that I didn’t address in this article?
Image credit, skodonnell, via iStockPhoto