In the past few weeks, I’ve been struck by the number of seemingly Twitter-savvy users with the same basic complaints – “Twitter is too hard to use”. As a self-proclaimed Twitterholic (you know who you are!), I was amazed at their comments and inquired further.
In virtually every instance, the reasons these users were frustrated with Twitter came down to this – they didn’t know about TweetDeck or TwitterBerry…or Seesmic or the IPhone App for Twitter, etc. My poor frustrated Twitter friends were trying to send messages while out and about town by using the web browser on their phones (egad!) or streaming through that endless “river” of info of single column tweets on Twitter.com.
When I asked them about TweetDeck and TwitterBerry, their faces lit up as if saw the light at the end of the tunnel! They absolutely would use Twitter more – and more effectively – if they felt more proficient and had easier tools. So voila, here they are!
TweetDeck is a dashboard-looking application you download to your desktop computer. Don’t be afraid of the dark, black background interface once you install it – I think it actually makes it easier to see everything going on once you figure it out! TweetDeck allows you to categorize your followers into “groups” – i.e. friends, business, travel, food, etc. that you view in separate columns (up to 10). Then when you log on with just 5 minutes to spare (but really, why would you ever do that?!) you can choose to view only the column that shows what your friends are doing, or just your work message column, rather than wading through that one super-venti-grande stream of info listing all 500 of your followers over on Twitter.com. Make sense?
I won’t go into all the details here (email me if you want to hire me for a private session!) on all the features, but from this one dashboard, you can monitor all your contacts by groups, send Direct Messages, retweet a message, send a message, follow users, see user profiles, create shortened URLs to include in your update, etc. It also allows you to post your updates simultaneously on Facebook – how cool is that? It completely simplifies all the tasks and makes you more productive and efficient than using the basic Twitter.com site.
An addition, if you are managing multiple Twitter accounts, TweetDeck allows you to customize your columns to “view” info as if you were each different user – so no more logging in and out of Twitter.com to see your various accounts!
The second tool I love is TwitterBerry, which makes it enormously easier to use Twitter on your Blackberry device. And I will fess up that I was one of the “ignorant ones” for several months, previously pecking out messages on my Blackberry’s web browser, cursing the small characters and my lack of a magnifying glass to see the tiny type!
But all that changed when I downloaded TwitterBerry and had a big, bold, simple interface to enter my updates – not to mention viewing my friends’ timelines, seeing direct messages, etc. Now I could actually send messages (and attach photos) while out at restaurants, in meetings, etc., without having to delay that until I was back at the comfort of my desktop application.
So there you have it – a couple of tools to lengthen your life on Twitter, and make it a more fun and productive experience. I know the “abandon” rates of new Twitter users are fairly high (some report 60% quit after less than a month) – because they are so overwhelmed at the info-overload and lack of tools to manage it. I hope this has been helpful and I look forward to your feedback about tools that make the ‘Twitter-verse” more user-friendly for you!