Using Twitter: Tools for Productivity (Pt. 2)

Creative Commons License photo credit: Matt HammTwitter bird logo icon illustration

On Monday I began answering some popular Twitter questions and today I have a few more for you:

  • What are hashtags? How do I track them?
  • Can I search Twitter as a whole?
  • Is there a way to set up tweets to post later? Or auto-post links from my blog?
  • Can I receive alerts about tweets that involve me or my product?
  • Can I submit questions to those outside my community? Can I set up a poll?

What are hashtags? How do I track them?
Hashtags are the #xyz memos (where xyz is the topic you’re discussing, e.g., #tulsamno) you can tack on to the end of your tweet so people who are also interested in that topic can easily find you. Hashtags are an easy way to track current events, breaking news, conference information, etc.

The Twitter Fan Wiki explains more about hashtags, how to use them, and how to track them.

Amy Gahran at contentious.com can tell you how to create Twitter hashtags that inspire action.

Applications to help you:

  • Hashtags.org lets you to search and track specific hashtags in real time.
  • You can follow @hashtags to track your own hashtags.
  • Use search.twitter.com to search and track specific hashtags.
  • If you use TweetDeck, you can set up a column to display search results for a specific hashtag.

Can I search Twitter as a whole?
Twitter Search is an easy way to search for a specific hashtag, name, user ID, or product.

Can I submit questions to those outside my community?
Twitter Answers is a mashup application that uses Twitter and Mosio to allow you to ask questions and receive answers from other users. From the site: “If you are familiar with how Twitter works, after signing up with Mosio and Twitter both, you simply follow QNA (twitter.com/qna) and when you want to ask a question, you send a direct message to QNA.”

Mashable lists 5 Ways to Get Your Questions Answered on Twitter:

twAnswers.net is another application you can use to ask and answer questions. Just send a question to @askthat on Twitter and you’ll receive a reply in a few minutes.

Another way to use these applications is as a way to fight writer’s block. Not sure what to write about this week? Search for a question in your niche. Once you’ve written your answer on your blog, make sure the people who asked it know you’ve done so by Tweeting them the URL. This may be a great way to find and expand your audience.

Is there a way to set up tweets to post later? Or auto-post links from my blog?

Of course! I’m a huge fan efficiency and when it comes to auto-posting anything you can count me in.

  • TweetLater is an online service that allows you to do several things with your Twitter account like schedule tweets, track keywords, vet new followers, etc. To use TweetLater and start using it to schedule tweets, just set up a free account and log in. Then read the easy-to-follow tutorials to get up and running!
  • TwitterFeed and RSS to Twitter allow you to automatically tweet your newest blog posts. Simply enter your blog’s RSS feed and the articles are automatically tweeted from your account.
  • TweetSpinner is a power tool that allows you to create and schedule “smart” tweets; schedule and rotate your Twitter design, URL, and bio; and use their “smart” friends and followers filters.

Can I receive alerts about tweets that involve me or my product?
Yep! It can be extremely helpful to know when people are tweeting about you, your blog or web site, or your product.

  • TweetBeep sends you hourly alerts via e-mail. They even track who’s mentioning you with a shortened URL, which is cool.
  • If you’re using TweetDeck set up a search column for each item you want to track (e.g., your Twitter ID, your real name, your product name, etc.). The catch is that you need a separate column for each search and that takes up your TweetDeck screen real estate.

Other useful applications:

  • TwitThis is a simple plug-in that allows your readers to easily tweet your article. From their web site: When visitors to your website click on the TwitThis button or link, it takes the URL of the webpage and creates a shorter URL [so] visitors can send [the] URL and a description of the web page to all of their friends on Twitter.
  • GroupTweet allows you and the group you select to tweet privately.

A version of this article was cross-posted at BlogHer.

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