One of the biggest reasons for Twitter's growth and success is that the Twitter team allowed the service to be morphed and re-shaped by the user-base from the very beginning. We saw it happen in the way that the Twitter community instituted replies, retweets, and #hashtags.
But the real kicker was the fact that Twitter released an open API for developers. That allowed programmers to extend Twitter in lots of different directions and experiment with different tools and utilities to improve Twitter.
In 2007, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told ReadWriteWeb, "The API has been arguably the most important, or maybe even inarguably, the most important thing we've done with Twitter. It has allowed us, first of all, to keep the service very simple and create a simple API so that developers can build on top of our infrastructure and come up with ideas that are way better than our ideas."
This is part two of my three-part series on Twitter. Here are links to the other two parts:
- Part 1: A quick Twitter guide and glossary for business users
- Part 3: Directory: 100 technology experts on Twitter
Today, over three years after Twitter originally launched, there are now thousands of different tools developed from the API, and many of them are extremely useful. Below is my list of the top 15 most useful Twitter tools for business users.
This URL shortener not only shrinks links down to about 20 characters, it also keeps track of your links for you and provides some basic analytics to see how many people click and retweet the links and where those users are coming from.
The most popular tool for sharing photos on Twitter is Twitpic, which allows you to take a photo on your mobile phone and email it to a customized Twitpic email address. You simply type your tweet into the subject line of the email. (See also: Flickr2Twitter)
If you've ever used Google Alerts, then you'll understand Tweetscan. It scans Twitter for your keywords and sends you a daily or weekly email of all instances where your keywords were used. This can be especially helpful for tracking brands. However, the service is not free. It costs $20/year.
Twitter is great for promoting blog posts and other types of content. If you have a blog and you want to automatically send out a tweet every time there's a new post, then Twitterfeed can do it for you. It also has some nice customization options.
If you live in Microsoft Outlook -- like many business professionals -- and would prefer to interact with Twitter from there, TwInbox integrates Twitter into Outlook. And, the product is free. It was formerly known as OutTwit.
CoTweet provides an entire business workflow for companies that are serious about using Twitter for business. CoTweet allows you to manage multiple Twitter accounts, it allows multiple users to access a single account, it can assign tweets to employees for follow-up, it can monitor keywords and trends, it can track clicks to links, and it can allow employees to schedule tweets out into the future. This is not a free tool. (See also: HootSuite)
This site provides statistics for individual Twitter users. Simply plug in the person's Twitter username and you'll get a plethora of stats, such how often a person tweets, when the person tweets the most, who the person replies to most often, who the person retweets the most and which interface the person used the most to post on Twitter. (See also: TwitterGrader)
This free tool allows you to schedule tweets out into the future. For example, I like to post an inspirational quote of the day on Twitter. But sometimes when I'm looking up quotes I'll come across with several good ones at a time. So, I use Twuffer to spread them out over several days.
One of the most useful things to do on Twitter is to crowd-source a question or ask a quick straw poll. Twtpoll is a tool that makes it very easy to officially do a poll. (See also: StrawPoll)
For more Twitter tools, check out these resources:
- 100 Twitter tools to help you achieve your goals
- 99 essential Twitter tools and applications
- 50 useful Twitter tools for writers and researchers
- Twittermania: 140+ more Twitter tools
For more insights on technology, you can also follow my Twitter stream: @JasonHiner