Getting Started with Twitter: Recommended Twitter Apps

twitter-bird-white-on-blueWhile there’s currently a certain level of annoyance on the part of third-party Twitter developers because of Twitter’s new API rules, Twitter’s willingness to let developers create apps on top of their software has been a boon both to Twitter and many of these developers. While these factions argue about OAUTH and tokens and other dev-speak, it’s us, the end-users, who have reaped the benefits of the Twitter ecosystem.
A broad array of Twitter apps abound that can help you do just about anything you’d like to with Twitter. Below, I’ll share what I actually use, plus provide a list of other services that may interest you.

What Twitter apps should I use?

1. Hootsuite

hootsuiteHootsuite is my go-to Twitter client, both on the web and via my iPhone and iPad. In addition to a fairly new and dead-simple autoscheduling feature that estimates when your updates will be most read, Hootsuite allows for the most effective use of your time online, especially if you’re running multiple Twitter accounts or updating multiple social media accounts.
I also appreciate the ability to create keyword searches within Hootsuite as a discrete stream of information. For instance, I have a stream called “free ebook church” that automatically shows me every person whose tweets contain all three of those words. This is a great way to keep your hand on the pulse of online conversation in regards to your business, city, or organization. Create a search that’s relevant to you or your job, then work to become a trusted resource to people talking about those issues, whether through answering their questions, pointing them to quality online resources, or simply being an understanding digital friend.
While Hootsuite’s free version limits you to only 5 accounts (of any kind, i.e. 2 Twitter, 2 Facebook, 1 LinkedIn), you can choose from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, Myspace (!?), WordPress, and Mixi.
Hootsuite is a robust, powerhouse social media tool. If you’re looking to go beyond, this is where you should start.
If you’d like more options regarding your main Twitter app, check out this list of the 22 best Twitter apps for 2012. I’d love to hear what you use on a daily basis as well.

2. Buffer

buffer appI would not be able to get through my work day without Buffer, an ingenious tool that allows for scheduled social media updates. You can allow the site to set up a recommended schedule on your behalf, where they purportedly arrange the best times for your updates to go live, or you can manually adjust your times and dates to set up a routine schedule of social media updates.
This is how I’m able to consistently send 10-12 quality updates per day while only spending approximately 30 minutes of my morning researching and seeding my buffer queue. If you’d rather a later scheduled post go live earlier, the site allows you to drag and drop until your tweets are in the order you desire.
Buffer’s free tier allows for 10 updates in your queue and the ability to post simultaneously to one Twitter account, one Facebook account, and one LinkedIn account. For $10 per month, you can get an unlimited queue, 12 social media accounts, and the ability to add team members to your account who can then queue updates on your behalf.
What really makes this a standout piece of software are Buffer’s “Apps, Extensions and Extras,” which I use to

I cannot recommend Buffer highly enough. They’ve put much thought into its creation. For paid customers, they offer prompt support via email. Just try the free service for a time. Report back here if you disagree with my assessment.

 3. Honorable Mentions

For the most part, the combination of Hootsuite and Buffer adequately allows me to manage my social media life, both at work and at home. However, thousands of third-party Twitter apps exist. I feel as if I’ve tried most of them. In no particular order, these are apps I’ve tried on and off again over the last year. They are all free to try, though most of them offer more functionality for a monthly fee. Devs have to feed their kids too.
TwitterFall is a great tool to use at large meetings where you’d like to show tweets on a big screen, whether during a presentation or a sermon or any type of event where you’d like to include interactivity. While the styling options are somewhat lacking, the site makes up for that by way of allowing you to show only the tweets appropriate to your event. Pick a unique hashtag, like #ImInYourTwitterz, and tell all of your attendees to use that in their tweets. Tell TwitterFall to only display tweets with that hashtag and, voilá, you have a free way to display tweets on a large screen.
I love this free service. automatically aggregates your followers’ most popular links and emails you the list of what’s most shared among your Twitter followers. You can also set up search terms so that you’ll receive the top results of any Twitter users who are sharing links about that particular topic. It’s a great way to find out what people are talking about online. This service is still in beta, but if you’d like an invitation to try it out, leave me a note in the comments and I’ll invite you to the service. I only have three invites to send, so respond quickly if you’d like one.
If you need more heavy-duty Twitter management, check out ManageFlitter, a robust web app that, among other things, can help you clean out unwanted followers based on a number of criteria.
If you appreciate stats, charts, and graphs, you’ll like TwentyFeet, a web-based service that shows your number of followers, retweets, and more over time. But, beware, when you sign up for the site, you’re also allowing the site to send a tweet on your behalf on a weekly basis declaring your stats, like this:
Some weeks, like the fortuitous tweet above (which you’ll learn more about next week), their automatic tweet could be a sign to others that you’re doing something right and providing a good resource. Other weeks, it may seem like you’re not even using Twitter. Regardless, TwentyFeet does provide an interesting look at your Twitter growth.
TwitterCounter is another fun stats site that shows growth over time, as well as how many followers you may have lost or gained in the last day or on average. It also includes a slider you can use to estimate how many followers you may get in the next 1-30 days. (Don’t put too much faith in that slider though).
To browse a wide array of third-party Twitter applications, read The Top 100 Twitter Tools of 2012.
I’m always on the lookout for any Twitter apps that can help me do my job or to further enjoy the benefits of the increasingly popular web-service. If there’s a Twitter app you can’t live without, please post it in the comments.
Here are links to every post in the Getting Started with Twitter: 10 Steps to Twitter Competence series.