Essential Twitter Tools

Twitter is an important part of my daily communications and community.  I use it to:

  • Share great resources
  • Chat with friends and peers
  • Share my own writing/posts
  • Access resources, articles, and keep current
  • Test ideas, vent, laugh and connect
  • Give myself a mental floss — you never know what you’ll see, read or jump into

But…I have a day job so I can’t spend all day, glued to the Twitter screen, waiting for someone to say something relevant.  So, I rely on a handful of Twitter tools that make it much easier for me to accomplish my goals and cover my day job as well.

Let me preface my tool talk with this statement:  Twitter is not about automated conversations between your bot and mine.  It’s about real interactions between real people.  But that does not mean all automation is bad.  It’s about finding the balance.

Twitter Tool #1: HootSuite.

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 10 43 48 PM
Re-arrange tweets into conversations

Much has been written about this software.  It allows you to manage your Twitter activity (follow the main stream, when someone directs an update to you or sends you a direct message) but what I appreciate the most about Hootsuite is that it allows me to schedule updates (on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) so I can be sharing resources, blog posts etc. throughout the day, even if I’m in a meeting or asleep.

It also lets me “re-arrange” tweets into conversations, as you can see in the screen shot to the right.

Twitter Tool #2: Boxcar

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 10 53 04 PM
Keep me in live conversations 24/7

Boxcar is an app on my iPhone and iPad.  It streams any message sent directly to me (I have it set just for Facebook or Twitter but you could set up Google Voice, e-mail and much more) right to my device and pops up with a portion of the message so I can decide if I want to read it, respond to it etc.   It’s very elegant and simple and very easy to set up and use.

This allows to to respond in real time — no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 11 30 36 PM
Pre-set a handful of blogs to autopost





Twitter tool #3: Twitterfeed

This is a tool I use very sparingly.  You create an account and then add URLs that post new content (typically blogs).  Then, anytime one of those sites has new content, it automatically tweets it out on your account.  (You can set it up to do Twitter, FB and others).

I would only add blogs that stick to their core content faithfully and consistently deliver A+ content.  In my Twitterfeed account, there are only about 10 blogs loaded up.  I can regulate how often it updates my status with someone’s new content and it tells me what my Twitter friends are clicking on.  I don’t want to bombard my Twitter followers, but I also don’t want to make them wait until I get to my feed reader to share the best stuff.

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 11 24 28 PM
Manage your followers with a click!





Twitter Tool #4: ManageFlitter

Oh how I love this tool!  With a couple clicks, I can see what tweeps I follow that have gone dormant, who are the super talkers (might be bots) and who has stopped following me, etc.  Then, I can unfollow or add people very quickly.

This used to be one of my most laborious tasks… cleaning up my Twitter followers.  But now I can do it in minutes and it keeps me connected to the people I want to follow and disconnected from those who got bored and haven’t tweeted in 6 months.

Screen shot 2011 06 09 at 11 44 32 PM
What the set up screen looks like

Twitter tool #5: Tweet Old Post

This WordPress plugin allows me to tweet out some of my older posts from my blog.  I’ve been blogging for over 5 years, so in theory, there’s some good stuff in there.  This plugin randomly grabs an old post (I can identify categories I do/don’t want included) and tweets it out.  I can add a prefix like A golden oldie… or a hashtag like #GreatestHits so my followers will know what’s up.

This is a great way to breath new life into old but still relevant content.

So there you have it….these five tools (along with some RSS feeds for listening by topics and Twitter lists for listening to my favorite people) are how I manage my life on Twitter.  They let me connect in real time, share my favorite writers, schedule some of my tweets and manage my followers.

I hope that at least one of these tools is a new find for you and that a mix of them can make your Twitter experience even better!

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28 comments on “Essential Twitter Tools

  1. Once again, you’ve explained a Social Media platform in straight forward, understandable terms. You’ve actually used these tools and then told us how they work for you.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and insights – Learning from you is just so easy!!

    1. Sandee,

      I’m glad this was helpful for you and everyone else. I think sometimes these tools like Twitter are so overwhelming that we’re afraid to try them. So I’m just trying to share some of the things I’ve learned — my mistakes might as well make it easier for someone else!


  2. Brent Williams says:

    Great post!! Thank you for the time you spend sharing this info with us…
    Brent Williams

    1. Glad to share Brent!

  3. Al Pittampalli says:

    Thanks, Drew. Great list. I’ve recently tried to get back into Twitter, and it’s great to know about these tools. Tweet old post is def. going to help me personally.

    1. Al,

      It’s a great way to breathe some new life into your older but still valuable blog posts.


  4. Elaine Fogel says:

    Hey, Drew. Isn’t HootSuite similar to TweetDeck? That’s what I’ve been using. If there’s something that HS has that TD doesn’t, please let me know and I’ll check it out. Great post!

    1. Elaine,

      I don’t know TweetDeck very well, so I’m not sure I can answer that question. I like hootsuite because it allows me to watch several accounts (like my personal account, the agency account, some client accounts) all at once. And I can schedule tweets and Facebook updates etc.

      Is that what TweetDeck does?


      1. Elaine Fogel says:

        Yes. I can post simultaneously to my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, too. And I can create columns with any keyword or hashtag.

        1. Elaine,

          Then it may be a potato – potato thing. Anyone else know how these two tools are different?


  5. True Twitterer says:

    Let me make a note of your Twitter name so that I can be sure not to follow you. You hit the nail on the head when you said that my bot is not supposed to be talking with yours. The automated services are getting better about randomizing tweet times to conceal that they are automated, but eventually the truth comes out. The fact is, when I detect that a Twitterer is using automation, I immediately unfollow. Twitter is about conversations – not me being bombarded with your self-serving automated tweets.

    You might want to rename your post, “How to get quickly unfollowed by some Twitter users while getting more exposure with the ones who don’t know any better.”

    Sincerely, I’m not being rude. You’re just violating the spirit of Twitter to use automation. At least warn your readers that there are weirdos like me (with lots of followers) who don’t participate in this abuse.

    1. True,

      Normally, I would delete your comment because you’ve violated my rules about only commenting if you are willing to put your real name, rather than a handle. But, I want to address your comments so I will let your transgression go.

      If you actually read my entire post or even better — checked out my Twitter behavior (no big shocker — my twitter name is @drewmclellan) you’ll see that my Twitter usage is anything but automated. My tweets are very rarely self serving — I am usually sharing other people’s excellent content or engaging in conversations.

      Sincerely — I am not being rude either. I am simply suggesting you do a little homework before you condemn someone.

      The tools I’ve shared allow me to manage my Twitter account and content in a way that I can connect with more people, chat with my friends and peers, and share content that I am confident will be illuminating to my 12,000+ followers. If that’s not in the spirit of Twitter, I don’t know what is.

      However — the great thing about social media and Twitter is that we can all use it the way we want and build a community around us that shares the same attitude. So if you like the content and style of my Twitter chat — by all means, follow me. And if you don’t, that’s okay too.


  6. Hi Drew,
    Twitter is such a useful tool to help get traffic to our sites…I am only just learning to use it.
    Thanks for sharing these tools.
    great post.

    1. Bryan,

      Happy to share. Hope some of them work for you!


  7. Tracy Geier says:

    I have only started using Twitter, so I enjoy your posts explaining all the latest tools. I agree that there should be less automation, more real person-to-person discussion via Twitter.
    Thank you, Drew.

    1. Tracy,

      How are you finding Twitter so far? Has it been valuable yet?


  8. Hey Mike,

    One of the best ways, in my opinion, to use Twitter is to demonstrate your expertise and value by answering people’s questions, connecting them to resources etc. What a wonderful way for a business or consultant etc. to walk their talk. And you’re right — the social proof is right there for all to see.

    It’s also the best way to add Twitter followers. The more you share and help – the more they stick around and attract others.

    How do you think social proof will change the way we use/rely on search engine optimization?


  9. Bill Flitter says:

    Hi Drew, great post. I haven’t heard of Boxcar.

    I would like to invite you to take a look at We have some features to automate some of what twitterfeed does but also add your personal touch to a tweet. If you would like a tour, give me a shout at bill @ and I would be happy provide you with some of the enterprise features as no cost.

    Bill Flitter

    1. Hey Bill,

      I haven’t heard about I will definitely check it out and be in touch!



  10. As you mentioned, social media is about real interactions, but these tools are certainly helpful. I spend a good amount of time on social media each day and this makes the process easier. It doesn’t mean that you should leave it all to the robots, but in some cases it’s OK.

    1. NIck,

      I do think it’s about balance. While it would be awesome to give everything you do an absolutely personal touch — it’s not practical. So you need to find ways way to be of value and relevant but still get a couple hours sleep a night!


  11. Pam Stair says:

    Hi. Not all businesses target a market that would use Twitter (tead: senior services). Just an observation. And I’m finding that very few of my peers are using Twitter and we aren’t classified as seniors quite yet. While Boomers are the fastest growing demographic on fb, they haven’t been flocking yet to Twitter. This is also true for one of my closest friends who owns a small business. Her customers skew older and barely do email.

    1. Pam,

      Without a doubt, you are correct. No marketing medium (online or off) is right for everyone. Not even one as popular as Facebook. Smart marketing always starts with strategy, not the tool of choice.

      Has your friend ever done any customer surveying to see what medium would work the best?


  12. Pam Stair says:

    Forgot to day thanks for this. I’m a Twitter neophyte and find your explanation easy to understand.

    1. Pam,

      My pleasure!


  13. Thank you for the informative article 😉
    I’ve also made the review and found some helpful apps that will make our Twitter life easier 🙂 Just have a look at this roundup, hope, it’ll be useful for you 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing the link Emily!

  14. Thank you too :))have a nice day 🙂

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