Twitter has changed my life - personally and professionally - in ways that I can't even begin to explain. I also understand that Twitter isn't like any other social network. The quirks and limitations cause many to give up and many others to not see how someone like me finds so much value on the network.
Over the last couple years, Twitter has made a massive effort to add features to not only simplify the user interface, but also to give creators additional options for telling their stories.
Listed below are my top 6 Twitter power user features that any user, no matter the number of followers, can take advantage of to find massive value on Twitter and standout from the noise.
1. Twitter Lists: Contact and conversation management
Quite possibly one of the most underrated features on the network - Twitter lists enable me to follow over 30k people without worrying about the added noise.
I segment people into different lists based on topics, events or types of tweets. Contact and conversation filtering is essential for all users as they scale their Twitter use.
I'd guess less than 5% of users know about lists, and maybe 5% of those users use them regularly. With all that being said, if you can get over the steps required to create them or leverage tools like Audiense, Buzzsumo, IFTTT or SpiderQube to help you create them, Twitter lists can be a mind-blowing feature that'll hook you into the true power of Twitter.
2. Tweetdeck: Real-time engagement
Twitter for me, when compared to other social networks, is less of a social network and more of a media site - I like to refer to it as a "global, unfiltered firehose of conversations and community".
Many people find value on Twitter when they're at a conference or watching TV or at a major sporting event. That's because the conversations are happening around a hashtag, in real-time, and it doesn't matter who's following who because everyone adds to the conversation. The hashtag becomes the glue that links all the tweets in chronological or popularity order, depending on your viewing preference.
Tweetdeck is a Mac and Chrome browser application that Twitter bought a couple years back - it enables me to create columns to easily filter conversations around specific users, hashtags, or Twitter lists.
Being able to quickly navigate and consume conversations ripe for me to jump is the secret weapon that enables me to maintain my reputation of "talking fast and tweeting faster".
3. Twitter Analytics: Easily monitor what matters to you
I'm a massive geek and marketing technology addict - to say I love data is an understatement.
Approximately one year ago, Twitter granted users access to their profile analytics data on analytics.twitter.com. This dashboard provides a fantastic snapshot of profile insights, including follower demographics, most engaged tweets, trends over the last 28 days and more.
For me this provides incredible value as I can see that my Twitter profile is viewed an average 44k times a month - which is far more than my website or any other homepage I have on the web. Because of this data I often update my bio, pinned tweet, and background image to provide the most relevant information to the people visiting my page. And even though I schedule most of my content via Buffer, I still view my Twitter analytics a couple times a month to monitor trends and better understand my Twitter community.
4. Pinned Tweet: Attract and direct traffic where you want it to go
As mentioned earlier, Twitter analytics enables me to monitor engagement on my tweets and profile views. With so much traffic to my profile page, it's essential to make a good first impression with my Twitter bio and images.
But let's face it, people follow you on Twitter for your tweets - for the information you share.
Your pinned tweet is the first tweet a person sees when they visit your Twitter profile. Often times the engagement on the pinned tweet will be much greater than on a normal tweet because it has a chance of being viewed more frequently. I like to experiment and have even gone as far as using Twitter cards, Twitter video, and Periscope live video posts as my pinned tweet.
Expanding beyond a traditional tweet allows me to go provide more than 140 characters of text while still being the first tweet someone sees when they view my page. I often change my pinned tweet to stay current and to drive new engagement to new content.
How often and what you choose to select as your pinned tweet is up to you, but whatever you do, you should update your pinned tweet regularly if you use this option. Don't leave a tweet pinned from 2013 as that just shows you don't care about your first impression - and that can deter people from clicking 'follow'.
5. Twitter Embed Options: Make it easy for people to find, follow and engage with you
An important step in every digital strategy is that you need bring your content and story to where your audience is already consuming and engaging media - don't expect them to come to you.
This includes Twitter - telling someone you're on Twitter or having a small Twitter logo on your website or in your email signature is just giving them an FYI.
What's better than telling? Showing.
Twitter recently enhanced their embed options allowing you to go beyond just putting your Twitter timeline in the sidebar of your website. My favorite new embeds are: Twitter follow button, Twitter DM from anywhere button, Twitter Collection of Tweets Embed, and an embed of a Periscope share tweet that enables the Periscope feed to play inline on your site. These new embed options are a great way to bridge your audience by showing them who you are and to drive them to your Twitter profile to find out more.
6. Twitter Video: Go beyond 140 characters
I've built 50+ strategies and will keynote at more than 45 events this year mostly focused on helping brands, leaders and communities tell their digital stories using live video and social media. Given this, it'll be little surprise that I'm also a huge fan of Twitter video - but I might up the ante by saying that it's the most valuable, current feature of Twitter. Unfortunately, much like Twitter lists, it may also be one of the most underutilized.
Twitter videos can be created using the Twitter app on your iOS device. One of my favorite use-cases is replying back to those who share my content or thank me for something with a quick video. It's personalized, they can look in what I call my "digital eyeballs", and it conveys more in 10 seconds than I can say in 140 characters. I've also found great success in uploading videos that are professionally edited or ones that I've recorded via Periscope into a Twitter video card, including a call to action, title, description of the video and a custom button to drive viewers of the video to my website for more details or information.
This week Twitter announced a shared revenue plan with Twitter creators that will allow us to place ad content before our videos and receive a share of that revenue. I've applied for this functionality but haven't used it yet. But the countdown is on - I have about 50 different scenarios where this will be integrated into my Twitter strategy.
What is the difference between a Twitter power user and the average user? Time, strategy, and an understanding of all Twitter options.
Time, like in everything we do, is required to find value and opportunity on Twitter. I don't have a magic trick or tweet shortcut to get more than 24 hours in your day or to pause the clock while you're engaging in your favorite Twitter chat. There's no easy button, but I will say that when you start by defining what success looks like for you and your time spent on Twitter, you're ahead of most.
Hopefully this post gives you insights into key Twitter features that you might not have known were available, and how you might be able to use each to find more value on the platform.
My Twitter Feature Wishlist
This wouldn't be my post about Twitter features if I didn't include a personal wish list for future features just in case Twitter is reading this. So here they are:
- Video & Periscope Live Streaming:
- Commenting on Periscope from browser
- Open Stream API for Periscope allowing 3rd party tools and cameras
- Ability to create user streams into the #GoLive Dashboard for video and hashtag integration
- Twitter DM filtering giving users dynamic filtering on automated DM's vs DM conversations
- Twitter Analytics
- More than 30 days worth of persona data
- Ability to see clicks & profile traffic both inbound and outbound
- Ability to run analytics against a specific twitter list for more focused dynamic analytics of a subset of users
- Tweetdeck column view on the twitter mobile iOS when the phone is turned horizontal we would be able to see and engage in multiple columns and feeds like we do on desktop tweetdeck today.