It always amazes me how fast news gets around now in the Twitter age. Take today’s fire on Dean Street for example. If you are following a bunch of Londoners, you can’t help but pick up the news as it unfolds, but unless you’re a complete Twitter addict, it’s easy to miss things unless you happen to be on Twitter at the time.
But help is at hand in the form of third party applications. Aside from trending topics, which are shown on the right hand side of your Twitter account homepage, there are a bunch of tools out there to help you make sure you stay on top of the hottest topics, including:
– After Google, Twitter Search has become my second most used search engine and it’s great for getting a snap shot of what’s going on at any one point in time or sentiment towards a brand or subject.
– Tweetdeck is the most popular twitter organiser and the new version even allows you to manage multiple accounts. I use it on my Mac and have columns set up for Journos, PRs, Digital people and Mates, so I can spot things that are trending in different areas much more quickly. I’d use it at work too, given the chance, but it’s a downloadable application and not available to me because of our IT policy.
– If you can’t download Tweetdeck, then take a look at browser-based JournoTwit, which was originally created for the journalist community. It doesn’t allow you to configure columns (yet), but you have some that are already set up, including one for pictures – this was how I first found out about the Soho fire.
– Twitscoop is quite a useful buzz monitoring tool. In addition to being able to see what’s currently trending, you can zoom in to get a detailed view, with tag clouds and stats on bit.ly and other bits and pieces that make it better for monitoring hot topics than an average search with the Twitter engine.
-And if you want to search for pictures or video that people have published, then Twitpic and yfrog are two of the top Twitter photo publishing applications. Yfrog has the distinction of allowing you to also publish video, whereas Twitpic is arguably more popular and has integration with other applications like Twitscoop.
There are hundreds of other Twitter applications out there, but these are the main ones I use for monitoring what’s going on. If you have to monitor subjects regularly – e.g. broadband – then it’s worth using applications like Twilerts or setting up a dedicated RSS feed in your aggregator such as Google Reader or Netvibes. However, care should always be taken for signing up for things the mean you giving you password away, although the applications above get the stamp of approval from the Twitter community.