Although Twitter is an excellent marketing opportunity and source of news updates, the site is far from perfect. Additional sites have popped up with such features as URL shortening, tweet scheduling, and automatic blog/Twitter integration that feeds your recent posts into your Twitter stream. Here’s a look at some of the sites that make Twitter easier – and more useful.

Sites that schedule tweets

If you use a Twitter client, then it probably has a built-in function that schedules your tweets for a later date. But if you’ve opted to use Twitter on the Web, then the only way you can schedule future tweets is by using one of the scheduling sites.

Although you have to either log in through the external site or connect an app with your Twitter account, scheduling tweets can be an effective way to stay on top of your social media marketing while still managing your time.

Be aware that setting up recurring messages is considered spam according to Twitter’s terms of service, so most of the scheduling sites don’t allow you to easily do this. You can, however, set up an entire week’s worth of tweets in one sitting – then sit back and watch your replies roll in.

5 scheduling sites to try:

  1. FutureTweets
  2. Twaitter
  3. Taweet
  4. Tweet-u-Later
  5. Twuffer

Sites that find other users

Finding and following other like-minded users on Twitter is essential to your success; although not everyone will follow you back, most people will at least look at your profile and tweets. If you can draw them in with quality content, you can connect with a larger and larger group of people, expanding your circle of contacts. But how do you find other Twitter users? The Web-based search function on Twitter is pretty limited. You can search for a name, interest, or email address, and you can request that the results include only users near your location, but that’s it. Some external sites allow you to find users with a host of interests, see what everyone in your area is tweeting about, search for name or lines in a bio and more.

4 search sites to try:

  1. Twellow: A searchable directory of public Twitter accounts.
  2. Nearby Tweets: Find out what people in your area are tweeting about and search for specific keywords in your ZIP code to find like-minded users near you.
  3. Local Follow: Search for Twitter users by bio, location, name, or tweet content.
  4. We Follow: A user-generated search site. You can search by interest and the site sorts users by influence, but unless a tweeter has listed themselves on WeFollow, they won’t show up on the site.

URL-shortening sites

Since Twitter is a microblogging community, you have only 140 characters to say your piece, which can be challenging when you want to include a link that is, on its own, longer than 140 characters. Fortunately, there are several URL-shortening sites that can shrink the URL down to a manageable size and still give you plenty of room to comment on the link’s contents. If you work with a Twitter client such as HootSuite or TweetDeck, chances are it has a built-in URL shortener. But if you’re using Twitter on the Web, you’ll have to copy the link into one of the sites listed below, then copy the converted link back into the Twitter interface. Many of the sites also offer analytics services, so you can monitor how many people have clicked on your tweet.

URL shorteners with analytics services

URL shorteners without analytics services

Bit.ly

TinyURL

Su.pr

Is.gd

Cligs

SnipURL

BudURL

5PL.US

Tweetburner

3ly

Awe.sm

 

LinkBee

 

Sites that feed your blog to Twitter

If you have a blog, you should be cross-promoting it to your Twitter account – but with everything going on in your day, it can be easy to forget the extra step it takes to click over and update your account with a link to your latest blog post. In addition, if you schedule your posts in advance, it may not be practical for you to also schedule your tweets in advance, or for you to tweet about your post after the fact.

That’s where sites such as TwitterFeed and Word Twit come in. These applications scan your blog for new posts, and when they detect new content, the application sends the post to your Twitter account, along with a shortened link that leads followers to the rest of the post.

Word Twit works only with blogs hosted on WordPress, but TwitterFeed can be customized for several different blogging services and RSS feeds.

Other sites

  • TwitLonger: This application allows you to use more than Twitter’s 140-character limit when you’re on the site. It tweets the first part of your message, along with a link for users to click on if they want to see the rest of what you have to say. There’s no limit to the length of your message if you use TwitLonger; although it’s good to keep in mind for occasional use, TwitLonger abuse might turn off some of your followers, and people will stop reading the longer messages – so use this application wisely.
  • TweetChat: During Twitter chats, users from all over log on at the same time and use hash tags to discuss a topic that they find relevant or interesting. Although there’s currently only one insurance-specific chat (though anyone can start a Twitter chat), there are other chats you might want to be aware of. Keeping up with a chat can be difficult as the busiest ones move at a fast pace. TweetChat weeds out tweets that are not related to the chat in which you’re participating, automatically adds the relevant hash tag to the end of your tweet, and updates your feed so you always have the latest conversation.

Chats for insurance agents

  • #hcmktg: Health care marketing-related chat; Fridays, 12-1 p.m. CT
  • #hcsm: Weekly chat about communication and marketing practices by health care organizations, including the use of social media; Sundays, 8-9 p.m. CT
  • #inschat: Monthly chat on insurance marketing and using social media in your agency; every third Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET
  • #SmallBizChat: Tips and advice for small-business startups; Wednesdays, 7-8 p.m. CT.
  • #SMBix: Open chat for all small businesses; Tuesdays, 8-9 p.m. ET.

Heather Trese is the associate editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal. She can be reached at HTrese@AgentMedia.com or 800-933-9449 ext. 225.


Advance to Day 12 of the Social Media Boot Camp
Twitter External Sites: Part 2
Catch up with past boot camp tutorials
Why Social Media for Insurance Agents — and Why Now?
Getting Started with LinkedIn
Getting Started with Twitter
Getting Started with Facebook
Choosing the Right Social Media Site for You
5 Ways for Agents to Build LinkedIn Connections
Using Twitter to Grow Your Business
How to Promote Your Insurance Practice on Facebook
Group Mentality: Finding Like-Minded People
Making Time for Social Media