Ok, definitely not going to get side-tracked like yesterday...
Anyway, so March is the month to spring-clean and organise my social media to get the most out of it without being bogged down by spam and noise.
Task one - taming Twitter.
Now you might be expecting that I'm going to tell you that I had a big unfollow and cut down the numbers of people I'm following down to about 200-300. I didn't. There are now ways available that mean you can follow lots more people than you'd expect and still have manageable streams. First up, I suggest you make friends with a feature Twitter itself provides:
1. Use Twitter lists
What I've done in Twitter is create lists to help me manage everyone I follow. I've currently got 10 lists. If you're using the new style Twitter there's a 'lists' link on the far right above your timeline on your home page. Click on this and you'll see a 'create a list' link. It's pretty self-explanatory from here. You can make your lists private or public. And you can add people on creating the lists or from tweeter's profile pages - under their profile information is the follow/unfollow button - to the far right of this are two buttons - one with a list on it, one with a cog. Click the list button and a drop down menu of your lists appear for you to tick the appropriate box or boxes.
For more info. here's Mashable's guide on how to use Twitter lists.
2. Having a 'absolute favourite tweeters' list
My most important list is 'fave twits'. This a list of 45 tweeters that I either talk to the most or don't like missing their tweets....if I'm having a really busy day, this is the only list from which I read tweets. They are my friends in real life or people I know tweet really interesting stuff. This list has possibly too many people on it...I'd rather it were around the 35 tweeters mark, but I can't decide whose tweets I wouldn't mind missing occasionally out of it just yet.
3. Keeping numbers in lists down
My next 3 lists are 'they make me smile' (mainly comedians and celebs), 'fab burlesquers' (burlesquers I know or have met who haven't made it into my 'fave twits' list) and 'bloggers'. If I have a little more time, I'll read the tweets in these lists too. I try to keep the numbers in these lists to a maximum of 20 each. This ensures that I don't get swamped by the number of tweets I'm viewing but can still dip in and out of what's happening in the various areas that interest me.
I try to keep numbers down in my next lot of lists too: 'brit burlesque', international burlesque', 'fascinating geeks' (brand new list created yesterday that I'll be moving some peeps from other lists into), 'vintage/fashion', and 'photographers'. If I've got a lot of time, or am waiting in the car for the kids to get out of a club etc. I'll scroll through these lists and read anything that looks interesting.
4. Managing new follows with a holding list
My final list is possibly the most important of all and one I keep private, my 'undecided'.
This is where most people I follow initially start....especially after picking up new recommendations from other's #ff follow fridays. It's my holding account. Every so often I'll check out who's on this list, look carefully at their profile and their tweets over the past few days and either move them to one of my other lists as appropriate, or if their tweets aren't that interesting to me, I simply remove them from undecided without reassignment (or unfollow).
Want a way of making Follow Fridays easier - check out FollowFridayHelper, blooming useful!
5. Having temporary lists for special events
Lists don't have to be permanent. I do sometimes create temporary lists for special events.
A couple of weeks ago I made a 'oscar tweeters' list so I could chat and read fellow Oscar watchers easily without having to plough through other lists. I suspect I'll be creating a Red Nose Day list on March 18th, and very probably a Eurovision list....I know I'm such a saddo but I love my Eurovision :)
6. Using search and saved searches
The way I found people to stick in my temporary fellow Oscar tweeters list was using 'search' on Twitter. The search facility (found in the top navigation bar in new style Twitter) is actually pretty useful. You can find people talking about subjects very easily if they're using hastags eg. #oscars #silentsunday #MMMM (the last two being memes I take part in) or you can find keywords within people's tweets even without hashtags.
If you search for something on a regular basis you can save your searches too, then these are readily available in the Twitter navigation bar above your timeline (next to 'mentions' 'lists' etc). Every Sunday I like to find tweets about #silentsunday. I could make a separate list to include everyone who regularly tweets about this - but each week the number of people grows bigger and also some of the people already appear in my bloggers list. So I have two saved searches to cover this - '#silentsunday' and 'silent sunday'.
What are memes? Check about Scribbling Mum's fab post on the BMB explaining memes, carnivals and linkys and showing 15 of the best.
What is #MMMM? Why it's Metal Mummy's Movie Meme - each Tuesday she picks a theme and then she and other bloggers write posts accordingly. It's favourite directors this week, I'm currently weighing up whether to choose Frank Capra or Robert Rodriguez...
7 & 8. Use Tweetdeck and Tweetlist to easily read and manage the lists
Creating all these lists and searches on Twitter was just the start of the improvements.
To be honest Twitter, even the new style isn't the easiest way to read or manage multiple tweets.
So when I'm on the pc during the day I use Tweetdeck....
It's free to download and you can customise it to see your lists in separate columns, change the order of columns, you can also add Facebook and Myspace updates to it...and I like having a Twitscoop column visible too that monitors the keywords most tweeted about at any given time.
The thing I like most about Tweetdeck is being able to mark all tweets seen and then delete them from vision (not actually deleting the tweets from your timeline if you check back with Twitter) - but it makes me feel more in control, clearing away tweets I've seen. It's nice to have blank columns or columns with only a few tweets in so that I don't feel swamped.
And when I'm out and about, or at least away from my computer I use TweetList Pro on my iPhone (I tried the Tweetdeck for Iphone but personally don't think it's a patch on Tweetlist. I've also tried Hootsuite and Echofone and although I'm sure these all have their advantages and fans, as I say, for me Tweetlist is the best Twitter app for iPhone by far).
One of the main problems with Twitter for iPhone (other than the annoying top trending 'adverts' they run at the top of the screen) is that it doesn't have any functionality for Twitter lists. I love being able to swipe left and right between my twitter lists on Tweetlist.
A thing that Tweetlist has that Tweetdeck doesn't is full conversation threading: by tapping on a tweet you can see the whole conversation at once. This is very useful as some of my best friends on Twitter sometimes don't come online for days and suddenly I'll get a "I couldn't agree more" tweet or "I really love that one" tweet.
In the days before Tweetlist I'd have NO IDEA what they'd be referring to and have to guess or ask them (but possibly not get a reply for another few days ;)) Now I can see their tweet and below it which one of mine they were responding to - brilliant! I also love that if I am replying to someone else's tweet, I get to see the whole conversation in the compose page.
There are so many wonderful features to Tweetlist I can't list them all here however another huge reason I love it is that the developers at Zooble are constantly looking at ways to improve it and actually talk AND LISTEN to their users. See the pic above - on Sunday they were giving out free promo codes for iTunes (I don't know if these still work but they're worth trying out) and you can check out their stream here - they genuinely seem to care about the quality of their app and respond quickly to any problems or improvement suggestions.
The app does cost $2.99 or £1.79 but it's money well spent for such a lovely user-friendly app. Tweetlist has actually made my use of Twitter fun and easy again. I love it.
9. Ways to read articles linked to later
I tend to check on my iPhone for what's been happening on Twitter overnight (I follow tons of people in the UK and I'm asleep whilst they're having most of their day) first thing in the morning, just before I take the kids to school. Invariably there are loads of links people have tweeted to articles/videos/pics/blog posts etc that I'd quite like to check out but haven't got the time right then.
One way of course is to open the link up in your browser - mine's Safari. So I then have 7-8 webpages (usually) open for me to check out later in the day.
Another way of saving things for later that seems to be growing in popularity are apps that translate the links you shared on Twitter (and often Facebook) into something a bit like a online newspaper.
I've been experimenting with Instapaper as part of my spring-clean/more efficient use of social media...so I'll possibly let you know my thoughts later this month. Other apps that you could investigate are Read It Later, paper.li and I'm sure if you googled them you could find others.
I'm not TOTALLY convinced that these personalised newspaper-type things don't create more noise and clutter and whether I might actually just stick with opening up links each time as new pages in my browser, but we'll see.
10. Ways to easily unfollow people if it all gets too much
As I say at the moment because of the advances of Twitter lists, my use of Tweekdeck and TweetList Pro I'm not finding 782 people too much. But every so often I have a cull of people I'm following because I don't see any point to following anyone who's tweets don't enrich my life. If they're not interesting or an even better indicator - if we wouldn't chat if we met in real life, then there's little point to following them.
So this includes people who won't talk to me ie. who don't follow me back. Friend or Follow is a great website to show you who's not following you. You type in your Twitter username and it pulls up a list. There are other sites that can automatically unfollow ALL tweeters not following you, but there are some people I follow that I don't mind not following me...I just like reading what they're up so don't want to necessarily unfollow them. They enrich my life (ok that might be an overstatement) with their wit and/or wisdom, so they get to stay. Friend or Follow gives you an opportunity to see those not following you and lets you make the choice to ditch them or not.
Another site I love is Twitoria.This one I find very useful. There's no point in following people who tried Twitter out on a whim but now never use it. Again you type in your Twitter username and then you can call up a list of people who've been 'inactive' ie. not tweeted for the past week, fortnight, month, 6 months or year. I unfollow anyone who hasn't tweeted for 6 months or more...and sometimes have a look at who hasn't tweeted for more than a month too.
OK that's my top 10 tips to tame Twitter...and I have to say having sprung-clunged ;) my Twitter, it feels a much nicer, less noisey, more useful place.
If you have any great tips, applications or ideas for organising Twitter please, PLEASE let me know in the comments below this post - THANK YOU! (Especially if anyone has any ideas to deter spammers....other than never mentioning my weight or my tattoos again, grrr, why should I have to be careful about not mentioning certain words that I know will bring in the spam?!!)