To the casual user, Twitter looks like a simple bulletin board of often useless status reports. Yet, smart marketers are starting to find Twitter feedback quite essential to their overall social marketing plans. Filtering and organizing Twitter feedback is one area where the right application is crucial to success.
"Twitter is all about listening, understanding, and participating as a marketer," says Art Sindlinger, vice president/activation director at Starcom USA. "We try to help our clients use Twitter with a real intent in mind. This is much more than just purchasing media."
We decided to ask a wide variety of marketers who are living and breathing in the space which Twitter applications they currently can't live without.
Known as the "air traffic control center" by Twitter execs, Tweetdeck is by far one of the most popular of all the Twitter applications currently available. This fast-paced application enables the user to "stay in touch with what's happening now" by collecting contacts from programs such as Twitter and Facebook in one place, all at once. Users can customize Tweetdeck with groups and columns to organize followers, or set up automatic updates to find out what others are saying about you.
"Tweetdeck is the ultimate time management tool," explains Christi Day, emerging media specialist at Southwest Airlines. "I'm constantly using Tweetdeck to monitor words such as SWA and Southwest. Plus, I use it to find out what our competitors are up to. I also love having the ability to retweet and add photos quite instantly."
New features include a TweetShrink option that can take any lengthy post and cut down its characters to fit it into Twitter's 140 character limit, plus an option to translate tweets into a different language. "We are always using Tweetdeck to monitor conversations within the cancer community," says Brooke McMillan, online community evangelist of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. "We're looking for those tweets mentioning that someone has recently been diagnosed with cancer. We then contact them on behalf of the organization to offer support."
Tweetdeck's ability to join together both personal and professional accounts is also a big plus for execs. "Personally I use Tweetdeck because of the ease in monitoring a range of keywords and managing multiple Twitter accounts at the same time," says Jonathon Nafarrete, a Los Angeles-based social media consultant. "The ability to sync and share between my Tweetdeck iPhone application and my desktop is a big bonus too."
Twitterific was one of the first iPhone Twitter apps to come into the market. Created by IconFactory and the winner of last year's Apple Design Award for Best iPhone Social Networking Application, Twitterific lets users view tweets or microblog posts and publish their own while on the go. Users love the filter icon, helping to keep track of @replies and direct messages. Multiple logins are another essential feature of this application.
"We are constantly working with bands with multiple band members," says Ashley Heron, senior manager of marketing at Lyric Street Records. "Using Twitterific allows each member the chance to tweet on their own personal iPhones to the band's shared account. (Lyric Street Records recording artist) Rascal Flatts actually used (Twitterific) to have fans suggest what their third single off their latest album would be. While we consider the Twitter community to still be a small part of our audience base, their feedback is vitally important."
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