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UNL News Blog

Six Twitter tools to help your news efforts

I’ve talked a fair amount about why it’s essential to leverage social media in your institution’s national-news efforts. But I haven’t mentioned some of the best tools that I often use for maximizing my time on Twitter.

First off, I don’t use feed-managers like HootSuite or any of those other automatic-pilot services. My Twitter feed is, like my favorite grocery store, 100 percent organic. Most times that’s good, and sometimes I miss some opportunities and openings. Still, those “scheduling” services come off as inauthentic to me, and I find them to be an accident waiting to happen, like this ad in the Miami Herald the day after the Heat lost in six. But I do like to use certain Twitter tools to do my job — that is, to help track national/international news events and news cycles, to see how effective specific social-media forays are, and to scour the Twitterverse for the first signs of breaking news.

The following six sites are among my daily (and, let’s face it, several times daily) stops:

1. Twazzup: Not happy with Twitter’s famously spotty search engine? Here’s a good one that’s a good deal better and faster. This search engine can help you get an early jump on other trend-watchers and newshounds looking for the very latest word or angle on a particular topic. I’ve been using this to follow the flooding situation up and down the Missouri River this week.

2. TweetTabs: In the same vein of Twazzup, this perpetual-search site allows you to keep track of multiple topics on one slick-looking screen. I often use TweetTabs during large news events around the country or world that tend to go on for several days. It’s also great for keeping perpetual searches going that involve my university’s interests, strengths and characteristics — stuff like ‘agriculture’, ‘drought’, ‘highered’, ‘telecom’ and ‘Big Ten.’

3. Twiangulate: This is a great tool, and very relevant for someone who values their role as a social-media networker. Not only can you use it to find new tweeps to follow by analyzing who the people you know are following, you can use it to inform you about who your most influential followers are. It works as a very good reminder of who’s reading what I tweet — which often helps guide what I tweet.

4. TwitterVision: More of a visual type? This tool puts tweets on the map — literally. Good for a geographic perspective on where the tweeting activity around the world comes from. For me, it’s a reminder that like politics, the most important news is local news.

5. TweetStats.com: Here’s a handy tool to see how, when and who you’re actually tweeting amid. It can serve as a good perspective check every now and then to help guide you toward better focusing your tweets, as well. (For example: As of today, I average 10.5 tweets a day and 279 per month. I’m most prolific on Tuesdays and tweet sparingly on Sundays. And I am far and away a mid-morning tweeter, with my top hours of the day being 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.) One note: Depending on how many users are requesting stats, it may take a few minutes for TweetStats to retrieve your info. Be patient; it’s worth the wait.

6. And last but not least, t4bp — that’s Twitter For Busy People. This tool is sort of an executive summary for Twitter; it arranges tweets into blocks of time so you can see which of the people you follow have tweeted recently. If you find yourself strapped for time but still want to engage in the social space, t4bp is a great way to cut through Twitter’s linear nature and quickly get to the highlights if you need to hit and run.

Give ‘em a try — and, as always, feel free to add your own.

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