How to make time for social media: Twitter

As I traverse across the country talking about social media, whether it's with clients one-on-one or with conference attendees from a stage — the "I don't have time" mantra is a common response to the conversation.  

I'm with you.  I get the time crunch thing.  I'm caught between that same rock and hard place.  But…I have figured out some ways to create time/time savers when it comes to social media.  So, I thought I would share what works for me, with the hopes that you can steal some of these ideas/tools.

I'm not saying these are the only tools out there…but these are my time savers.

Saved Searches:

One of the elements of Twitter that I think most people under-use is the ability to evesdrop on people as they talk about topics that matter to you.  To help me stay in touch, I've created some saved searches in Twitter's web interface.

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I just check each of the searches once every few days…and I'm always current.  

Private, Group Conversations:

When most people first dig into Twitter, they think of it as a very public social media tool.  While I enjoy the public banter and resource sharing, for me….about 50% of my Twitter conversations are private or to a small group of people. I can use the regular DM feature on Twitter for one-to-one conversations. 

But, when I want to send those DMs to a group of people, I use Group Tweet to set up private groups.

I can post updates to everyone in the group using direct messages. When the group account receives a direct message from me, GroupTweet converts it into a tweet that all followers can see.

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Because I usually want to keep those updates private so that only my group members can see them, I just created a special group account on Twitter, protected it, and use that one.

Manage followers

I actively manage and use two Twitter accounts.  My personal account (@drewmclellan) and our agency's account (@mclellanmarket).  And between those two accounts, I typically get 25-50 new followers each day. 

I simply do not have the time, every day, to check out each follower and decide if I want to follow them back or not.  And my philosophy on following is — unless they're a spammer or are really foul mouthed or only tweet in Finnish, if they follow me — I'm going to follow them back. 

So I use  I have it set to automatically follow everyone who follows me.  Then, about once a week (typically on Sunday afternoons) I click on the following link (right under my Twitter name) and can very quickly scan the people who have been added that week.  I just unfollow the spammers, foreign speakers or those who tweet in a language I cannot read…and voila, my following list is updated.  It never takes me more than 15 minutes.

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I also love SocialToo's survey tool.  I can create a poll…and SocialToo allows me to tweet it out and then tabulates the results.  Which of course, I can tweet back out.

All of Twitter at a Glance…and Pre-Scheduling Tweets

HootSuite is the key to my Twitter life.  It allows me on one screen to see:

  • My Twitter Stream (what everyone I follow is saying)
  • Tweets that are talking to or about me (@drewmclellan)
  • Direct messages to me
  • Results of searches I have set up
  • My most recent tweets
  • Track the stats on my tweets (how many clicks, etc.)
  • Any tweets I have pending
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What?  What do you mean, pending tweets?  I tend to be a night owl.  Many times, I find something I want to share on Twitter around 1 am.  None of my core followers are online at 1 am.  But, if I wait until morning, I will either forget or not have enough time to tweet it.  So I use HootSuite to set up a scheduled tweet for the next morning (or whenever I want it to go out).

See the box at the top of the screen shot?  That's where in HootSuite, I type my tweets.  I can either just click submit and it tweets immediately, or I can click on the send it later link and choose the date and time I'd like it to be tweeted.  As you can see, it will also auto-shrink URLs for me.

Keeping Track of my Twitter Activity

Because I don't just use Twitter for my jollies, but it's both a business tool and I need to understand it so we can advise clients properly — I want to keep an eye on my activity and monitor how I am balancing my tweets etc.

Twitterfriends allows me to see some very useful stats like how often am I being re-tweeted and or how many replies I am sending daily.  

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I can also compare my Twitter stats like stickiness (mine is 17% and Problogger's is 25%, for example) to other Tweeters.  There are also some maps that show relevance, link usage and some other nice tools.

I know this was a very long post for me.  I'm hoping it has been so helpful that you didn't notice or didn't mind.  Stay tuned…I'm working on another couple of these making time posts.

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18 comments on “How to make time for social media: Twitter

  1. Drew, thanks for sharing this list and showing how you use the tools. Having just come off of the 4th annual Bathroom Blogfest, which used Twitter more heavily than ever, some of these I’ve become aware of. But, many others not! Hope you had a good Halloween! CB

  2. C.B.

    Glad to share. I think finding the time to effectively manage all of these new communications tools has to be one of our biggest hurdles to getting folks to dip their toes into the social media water.

    Heck, it’s only taken me 3+ years to get a handle on it! So if I can share what I’ve gleaned and save someone else a year or two — why the heck not?!


  3. Gavin Heaton says:

    Great post, Drew. It really makes sense when you see HOW these tools can be used to be more productive.

  4. Gavin,

    That’s going to be my goal with this series. I’m not suggesting my way is THE way…but it’s one of the ways.

    Hopefully people can get some ideas of how these tools can best serve them too.


  5. Gayle Welter says:

    Drew –
    Thanks a million for the great tips! Since I’m just getting started with Twitter and Facebook, it is just overwhelming from many angles. I’m trying not to be paralyzed but am balancing thoughtfully where to go and how to participate. I love learning about all of the social media tools and how to use them.

  6. MAS says:

    Thanks! The tweet tools review was very helpful. Need to get into this more!


  7. Dylan says:

    Hi Drew. Reading your post has actually saved me some valuable time! I just love the ability to send Tweets later with HootSuite – allows you to schedule regular updates when you’re away for a few days. Thanks!

  8. Rebecca Markarian says:

    Great post Drew! Hootsuite is my lifesaver with more than 10 accounts for myself and my clients to manage. Couldn’t survive without it. Twitterfriends and SocialToo were new to me so I jumped right on them. Great recommendations. Thank you!

  9. Thanks everyone — glad you’re finding this of value. I’m going to do some additional posts — same style, on different social media tools.

    So stay tuned!


  10. Natalie says:

    Hootesuite seems to lost popularity, although it is still my tool of choose. I’m surprised that TweetDeck hasn’t added a pre-scheduling tweet feature. Thanks for the time saving tips.

  11. Tony says:

    thank you for the info.

  12. R Cook says:

    I was told that on average, maintaining a good presence for your account takes about 32 hours per month – thanks for your list of tools and hints – they are timely

  13. Helen says:

    Hey! Twitter is now very used, and it’s not that hard to make time for it. I usually use one of the desktop applications or sometimes web. Thank god that now we have Twitter-Lists, and that makes things easier! you have to be careful who you are following to, because the amount of information that is coming to you, by Twitter, is very big!
    by the way, i am following you on Twitter (@taskwriter)

  14. TSSVeloso says:

    Hi, Drew, great post, I use both Hootsuite and Twitter Friends, and I must also recommend Klout ( amongst the hundreds of apps for an additional perspective on your actual influence as a Tweep.

    Keep up the great work!

  15. I can use the regular DM feature on Twitter for one-to-one conversations.

  16. There’s so much noise and clutter out there, it seems as though social media hasn’t really matured enough to be a useful tool.

  17. David Wells says:


    Great post! I can’t live without Hootsuite to manage my twitter streams!

    I would also recommend checking out Converse ( It is like hootsuite in the way that it lets you schedule out messaging but it also handles a lot of services that Hootsuite doesn’t support.

  18. Susana Soto says:

    One of the most useful post I’ve read about how to optimize my time to twitter. Thanks!

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