If you missed them, you can read the previous posts:
- What is Twitter and how does it work?
- Ten easy steps to get started on Twitter
- Joining the conversation: Replies and Mentions
- Expanding the conversation: Retweeting
- Focusing the conversation: Hashtags and Chats
This week I promised to address some specific questions from you guys. I think I've got at least one more Twitter post in me, so if you have any questions that I haven't addressed yet, do let me know.
Many of your questions all boiled down to one thing, how to manage Twitter without being totally overwhelmed. I'm not sure I've mastered that challenge, but I have a system and it works for me so I'm going to share it here.
Q: How do you keep with all the people you follow? I feel like if I follow that many people I will barely keep up with the information they are posting.
There are two parts to my answer. The first is a way of thinking about Twitter and the second is a Twitter tool that I rely on to keep the chaos at bay.
Firstly, here's how I look at Twitter: Twitter is my tearoom. I can't be in the tearoom all the time and there are bound to be fantastic conversations taking place while I'm away. I'm going to miss them. I'm okay with that.
When I do drop in, I'll find who is there and join the conversation. What I've missed is what I've missed and I don't spend time trawling back through the Twitter stream to 'catch-up' any more than I'd request transcripts of conversations that took place in the tearoom while I was away.
Sometimes I stumble into the tail-end of a great conversation and I will backtrack a little so that I have some idea what everyone is talking about before I join in. That's one way in which Twitter is an improvement on tearoom conversation. I don't have to ask people to recap or repeat what had been said just before I walked in!
So that's my first secret. I don't try to keep up with everything everyone posts. I check in periodically (more or less frequently depending what I'm doing with my day) and let the rest go.
My second secret is Twitter lists. In my post on 10 Easy Steps to Get Started on Twitter I wrote about lists. Anyone on Twitter can create their own lists. I use lists to group together the people I follow who fall into similar categories. For example, I have a yoga list, a Buddhist list, a writing list, an Afghanistan list, a list of people who are changing the world, and something I call my 'kindred-spirits' list, which is people who may or may not fit into any of the previous categories but with whom I feel a strong common ground.
Then, I use something called TweetDeck to manage my interface with Twitter. I know there are other options, including HootSuite, but I've only tried TweetDeck so I can't tell you much about the others. If you want to know more, there are others who have done the comparisons.
For now, TweetDeck works for me. One of the things it allows me to do is to have multiple columns for me Twitter stream. I have a column for each of my Twitter lists, plus a column for mentions/replies and one for direct messages. This helps ensure that I don't miss any Tweets that are directed at or talking about me!
It also helps me keep track of the 800 people I follow without being completely overwhelmed. Each of my lists has no more than 150 people in it, so it's not too hard to see who's online and what they are talking about at a glance.