Twitter Tools, Pt. 2

BlogHer Original Post

Last week I began answering some popular Twitter questions and I'll continue this week:

  • What are hashtags? How do I track them?
  • Can I search Twitter as a whole?
  • Is there a way to set up tweets to post later? Or auto-post links from my blog?
  • Can I receive alerts about tweets that involve me or my product?
  • Can I submit questions to those outside my community? Can I set up a poll?

You know what? There's an application that will answer each of these questions (and even many I didn't list).

What are hashtags? How do I track them?
Hashtags are the #xyz memos (where xyz is the topic you're discussing, e.g., #blogher09) you can tack on to the end of your tweet so people who are also interested in that topic can easily find you. Hashtags are an easy way to track current events, breaking news, conference information, etc.

The Twitter Fan Wiki explains more about hashtags, how to use them, and how to track them.

Amy Gahran at can tell you how to create Twitter hashtags that inspire action.

Applications to help you:

  • allows you to search and track specific hashtags in real time.
  • You can follow @hashtags to track your own hashtags.
  • Use to search and track specific hashtags.
  • If you use TweetDeck, you can set up a column to display search results for a specific hashtag.

Can I search Twitter as a whole?
Twitter Search is an easy way to search for a specific hashtag, name, user ID, or product.

Can I submit questions to those outside my community?
Twitter Answers is a mashup application that uses Twitter and Mosio to allow you to ask questions and receive answers from other users. From the site: "If you are familiar with how Twitter works, after signing up with Mosio and Twitter both, you simply follow QNA ( and when you want to ask a question, you send a direct message to QNA."

Mashable lists 5 Ways to Get Your Questions Answered on Twitter: is another application you can use to ask and answer questions. Just send a question to @askthat on Twitter and you'll receive a reply in a few minutes.

Another way to use these applications is as a way to fight writer's block. Not sure what to write about this week? Search for a question in your niche. Once you've written your answer on your blog, make sure the people who asked it know you've done so by Tweeting them the URL. This may be a great way to find and expand your audience.

Is there a way to set up tweets to post later? Or auto-post links from my blog?

Of course! I'm a huge fan efficiency and when it comes to auto-posting anything you can count me in.

  • TweetLater is an online service that allows you to do several things with your Twitter account like schedule tweets, track keywords, vet new followers, etc. To use TweetLater and start using it to schedule tweets, just set up a free account and log in. Then read the easy-to-follow tutorials to get up and running!
  • TwitterFeed and RSS to Twitter allow you to automatically tweet your newest blog posts. Simply enter your blog's RSS feed and the articles are automatically tweeted from your account.
  • TweetSpinner is a power tool that allows you to create and schedule "smart" tweets; schedule and rotate your Twitter design, URL, and bio; and use their "smart" friends and followers filters.

Can I receive alerts about tweets that involve me or my product?
Of course! It can be extremely helpful to know when people are tweeting about you, your blog or web site, or your product.

  • TweetBeep sends you hourly alerts via e-mail. They even track who's mentioning you with a shortened URL, which is cool.
  • If you're using TweetDeck set up a search column for each item you want to track (e.g., your Twitter ID, your real name, your product name, etc.). The catch is that you need a separate column for each search and that takes up your TweetDeck screen real estate.

2 other useful applications & an article:

Let me know if you use a Twitter application that makes your life oh-so-much easier. I'd also love to know if you use an application that I haven't listed. Tell me why it's so great!

Melanie Nelson writes tips and instructions for beginning and intermediate bloggers at Blogging Basics 101. You can follow her on Twitter at @chilihead.


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