The most important element of Twittering for your business is to update with tweets regularly, the single most important aspect of maximizing your Twitter account for your business, but it can be a monumental task for small business owners. Most people setup their Twitter accounts and then just let them die on the vine. Whatever you do, don’t let this happen.
When utilized in the right way, Twitter is a remarkable opportunity for small business owners, offering one of the most uniquely effective ways to build your sphere of influence in your industry niche, to listen to what your customers and competitors are saying in real-time, and ultimately, providing you with an unfettered opportunity to grow your business in a whole new way.
Like so many small business owners, tweeting (as it’s called) on a daily basis might seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there are a few outstanding 3rd party Twitter applications that can help you manage, maintain and get the most out of your Twitter account without you having to watch your Twitter feed updates 24 hours a day.
I’m going to talk about two of my very favorite third party Twitter applications in this regard:
- TweetLater SocialOomph (TweetLater was recently renamed SocialOomph)
Hummingbird (from TwitAddict and Mesabi Labs) is a Twitter automation tool that allows you to manage and grow your Twitter ‘following’ (as its called) in a very efficient way. Actively growing and managing your Twitter account is a critical part of getting the most out of Twitter for your business. Seeding and growing your list of followers with active Twitter participants within your industry niche is essential for success. Hummingbird is one of the best Twitter third party applications available to do just that. As a desktop application, Hummingbird can automate much of the heavy lifting required in building and managing your Twitter following.
Here are just a few of the things that Hummingbird offers:
- Gives you the ability to reach thousands of highly targeted followers and prospective customers, hands free
- Powerful automated following engine that can help you quickly build your Twitter following and authority in your specific niche
- Automatically pauses when you’ve hit Twitter’s follow limits, keeping you notified & safe from following too many people at one time (which can get your account suspended by Twitter)
- Automates the follow and unfollow process for you – saving you a ton of time.
UPDATE 9/17/09: I recently ran into an issue with Hummingbird that I need to make you aware of. I mistakenly auto unfollowed a large number of people accidentally using Hummingbird which led to my account being suspended by Twitter.
This was very clearly my mistake, but Twitter suspended my account for “aggressive follower churn” specifically caused by Hummingbird. I accidentally let Hummingbird run unchecked and unfollowed a large number of accounts at one time. Admittedly, it was very clearly my mistake but I can no longer recommend Hummingbird’s use in good conscience for regular users because of the danger poses to regular users. Hummingbird can be used effectively but it has to be used very, very cautiously and it’s far too easy to have your account suspended with a mistake like that.
In my conversations with Twitter support, they have very clearly indicated that I should not be using Hummingbird for this very reason. Until these issues with Hummingbird’s application are resolved, I can no longer recommend using Hummingbird.
Hummingbird was one of the first tools that I tried out when I first started growing and actively managing my Twitter following.
Today, I don’t know what I would do without it.
Hummingbird has become an integral part of growing and managing my Twitter account and is a “must have” tool for any serious Twitter professional.
There is one thing to watch out for with Hummingbird, however. Twitter has started to closely monitor “aggressive” Twitter followers and has started to sharply restrict the total number of followers that any one account can follow at a time. New Twitter accounts are restricted to no more than 2K people until the account has reached roughly the same ‘reciprocal’ number of followers. Once you finally do obtain your first 2000 followers, Twitter will then start letting you follow more than the initial limit of 2000 people. The latest version of Hummingbird is setup technically to stay within the daily follow limits defined by Twitter but it does not allow you to select a specific number of follow requests to be conservative and well below Twitter’s daily count limits. Even though Hummingbird is built to stay within Twitter’s daily follow limits, you should be very careful in your follow requests early in your Twitter account development with Hummingbird. With Hummingbird, you should try to limit your ‘follow count’ to 200-250 per day at the most, at least early in your Twitter account history. You can do this manually in Hummingbird by stopping your following by hitting the “Stop” button after reaching that 200-250 follow count limit.
Another crucial element of managing any Twitter account is updating with Tweets on a daily busy. Staying active with your Twitter account is easier said than done though, especially for time-constrained small business owners (believe me, I know). If you are too busy to personally update your Twitter account with tweets every day, you can use SocialOomph, one of the best Twitter applications available for small business owners anywhere. TweetLater SocialOomph is, by far, my favorite Twitter application because of its incredible usefulness in helping to manage, automate, and even delegate your most important daily tasks and required activities with Twitter.
TweetLater SocialOomph offers up a free version that has an impressive list of features including:
- Automate and Schedule Your Tweets – Set It and Forget It! – updating your Twitter stream with new tweets is critical but business owners with limited time can use this feature to publish tweets automatically, each and every day.
- Track Your Keywords on Twitter – another critical feature of Tweetlater SocialOomph that allows you to set up alerts and track keywords on Twitter. Automatically find out what people are saying about your business or your competitors with TweetLater’s SocialOomph’s monitoring feature. You can set it up to periodically receive a keyword “digest” of those keywords to be sent to your email address for those keywords that you want to follow.
- Automatically Follow Those Who Follow You – Twitter etiquette dictates that you should follow those who follow you and you can do this automatically and save a ton of time while you build your followers list. You can also automatically unfollow those who unfollow you as well (very cool feature.)
The professional version of TweetLater SocialOomph (which I use) has an amazing features list. Here are just a few of the professional version features:
- Delegate the Management of your Twitter Account – a must have feature for busy small business owners that allows you to delegate your Twitter feed updating to an assistant or trusted employee. The delegation feature will keep the master account information, including Profile and Password, secret while providing easy access for your employee or assistant. This is also a great feature for companies who want to let several employees manage a Twitter account, without having to know the password.
- Manage Multiple Twitter Accounts – for individuals that own multiple businesses that want to establish multiple accounts the so-called TweetCOCKPIT easily allows you to manage all your Twitter accounts from one single, integrated console.
- Bulk Upload & Tweet Scheduling – If you’d like to upload and schedule your tweets at one time you can do that with the Bulk Upload and scheduling feature. Prepare your tweets offline, save them in a simple text file, and upload them all at once in bulk. Saves a ton of time not having to manually enter lots of tweets all at the same time.
Sign up for the free 7-day professional trial version of TweetLater SocialOomph first to try it out.
After 7 days, if you don’t upgrade from the free version, your account will simply revert back to the free version, you just won’t have access to the professional version features. While the free version provides enough functionality for the novice user, after upgrading to the professional version, I could never do without it.
Business owners that are serious about maximizing their productivity AND getting a return on investment from their Twittering will need the professional version of TweetLater SocialOomph.