Twitter can be quite overwhelming at times, what with the volume that passes down our screens. This post offers some ways at managing and making sense of all of that!
If you’re choosing who to follow effectively, then your Twitter feed should be full of interesting tweets and links to webpages etc which you might want to follow up on. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, lose track of it all, miss things and mislay things! Twitter itself has a few features which can help you stay on top of all the information.
If you see a tweet which interests you and which you’d like to come back to later, you can mark it as a ‘favourite’ and it will be stored for you to return to. To mark a tweet as a ‘favourite’, click the star icon. When you want to look at your favourited tweets, you will see them marked in your Twitter stream, but it’s easier to see them all together. If you click on the top tab with the profile icon and ‘view profile’, your profile will load with a number of options running horizontal underneath your banner image: ‘favourites’ as well as your tweets, followers and following. Click on ‘Favourites’ to view. When you favourite a tweet, the person who tweeted it is notified, which may help to gain you an extra follower, but it also gives them feedback on what others are finding useful.
Twitter now allows you to pin 1 tweet to the top of your timeline, on your profile page. This is great feature if you want to draw people’s attention to a particular tweet and it means that this tweet won’t get lost among the fast moving moving dynamic content on twitter. To pin a tweet to the top of your profile page, click the “dots” icon underneath the tweet and select ‘Pin to your profile page’. You may need to refresh your profile page in order to see your pinned tweet. To unpin a tweet follow the same process, only this time select ‘Unpin from profile page’ from the menu that appears after clicking the ‘dots’ icon. Remember, you can only pin one of your own tweets!
You can search for tweets by username, hashtag or just by a keyword. The search box is at the top of the screen in the right hand corner. Once you’ve searched, Twitter allows you to organise the search results by top tweets (most popular) or all results. Additional options to filter the search content are available on the left hand side of the timeline. You can filter by People, Photos, Videos, News and Timelines and also by people you follow and people near you. If you find yourself repeating a search regularly, you can save it so you don’t have to keep performing it. To save a search, select ‘Save’ in the top right-hand corner of the timeline after you have performed it. The next time you want to search for this topic (hastag, person, location) it should automatically appear in a drop-down menu when you click into the search box. Finally, you could also perform an advanced search – this allows you to narrow down the tweets you’re looking for by words, by the person sending or receiving it, by location and by a date range. To access the advanced search feature, click ‘Advanced Search’ in the menu that appears on the left hand side of Twitter (once you have performed a search). Below is an example search for #LivUni10DoT:
In the left hand column, Twitter will also show you what hashtags are popular at the moment. This may or may not be of much use to you (Zayn leaving One Direction? I don’t know, maybe?)!
You can narrow the trends down by location, by clicking on ‘Change’ in this box, but if you are networking at a national or international level, this may not be very helpful.
Third Party Apps
If you’re feeling more adventurous again today, here are a couple of third party apps which will help you curate all the links which people are tweeting about.
Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter, and was mentioned by one participant of #livUni10DoT last week. It is a good way to manage more than one account, if you have more than one (for personal and professional use, or perhaps an individual one and an official one on behalf of an institution). You can also use Tweetdeck to split your Twitter stream into columns divided by people. It will import any lists you have made on Twitter too. You will need to create an account, with an email address and password. Once you have set up an account, you can connect your Twitter account(s). You can use it as a web-based application to access from anywhere, or you can download the Tweetdeck app to your computer (there is no app for smartphones or tablets). Tweetdeck is organised into a number of columns, and gives you a number of columns automatically, such as your timeline, your own tweets or your @mentions (tweets that mention you), and you can add new columns for the lists you create. You can also create new lists in Tweetdeck. Click on ‘add column’, and choose ‘lists’ (or any other column you want to add!). You can do everything we’ve covered in Twitter on Tweetdeck too, including shortening URLs. Tweetdeck also makes some other things in Twitter a little bit easier. For example, when you retweet, it will ask you if you simply want to retweet or if you want to edit the tweet, as we discussed in Day 6. On Twitter, you need to copy and paste the tweet if you want to edit it, which can be fiddly; this does it automatically. Finally, if you perform a search for a hashtag, you can add a new column to your Tweetdeck which will now display all the tweets using that hashtag, whether you follow the people using it or not. This might be useful if you are following a conference hashtag or chat such as #PhDChat but don’t want to follow all of the people tweeting with this hashtag.
Pocket is an application which saves any webpage for you to look at in more detail later, when you have time. It is a bookmarking tool – if you find a webpage via a link in Twitter (or anywhere else), you can save it to Pocket, and then return to it and the other things you’ve saved later on. Pocket is a web browser based service, meaning you can access it from anywhere and any device or computer. To create an account, you’ll simply need an email address, username and password. On your desktop computer, you can download and install it into your browser, so you can simply hit a button in your toolbar to save a webpage (how to install it depends on which browser you prefer to use, but Pocket will take you through the steps – it’s easy!). When you use Twitter in a browser with Pocket installed (and also if you have installed the Pocket app on your smartphone or ipad), then a ‘Pocket’ option appears alongside the other options of ‘reply’, ‘retweet’, ‘favourite’ etc when you hover over a tweet containing a link, so you can save it right from the tweet instead of having to open the link and add it to Pocket from there. You can also access Pocket on the web, if you’re on a computer which isn’t yours, or where you can’t install it into the browser.
So there are a range of ways to stay on top of all the information that’s being shared with you by the people you follow. Choose one that looks useful to you, and experiment with it! Let us know how you get on using the hashtag #LivUni10DoT.
Also, it’s really important you continue to build your following and follower count. Perhaps you could look for subject areas (organisations, funding bodies, notable academics) and follow them. Maybe even see who they tweet with and follow those people as well.