May 25, 2011

Organizing Multiple Twitter Feeds through HootSuite

For about a year I have been managing two professional Twitter feeds for work. This has become an increasingly important tool for me to identify and collect resources, promote our annual conference, and standardize how our own programs communicate. I've done a number of trainings on difference aspects of Twitter, and I am helping to run our Social Media Users Group, affectionately referred to as S.M.U.G.

Twitter has become an indispensable tool for our small organization, and we now boast eight official feeds, many of which run as news widgets on various program pages of our website. We are no longer at the stage of having to convince ourselves or anyone else that this tool is for us! Now we are entering the next generation: managing multiple Twitter feeds through a third-party application. We've chosen HootSuite for this. (And in case you're wondering Why not TweetDeck?--and I did try it--it's only because by the time I had six embeddable columns on HootSuite I had not made it past the TweetDeck CAPTCHA.)

HootSuite allows you to run multiple social media accounts and RSS feeds through one console, set up search terms to follow, give "team members" permissions through a centralized access point and, best of all, schedule tweets in advance. It was incredibly easy to set up. Most of the "tabs" and "streams" that I set up allow me to view lists and other configurations that I could make available in separate browser tabs, but HootSuite makes it easier to manage multiple views without overtaxing your browser or cluttering up your screen. Also, any column view or "stream" that you create--it can be a hashtag search, an individual Twitter user, a list, or up to three keywords in one column--any one of these can be displayed on your website by choosing "create embeddable column" from the control panel. This is handy if you want a widget that displays not just what you are tweeting, but all the results that are rolling in on, for example, commuter/commuters/commuting.

If Google Alerts revolutionized my work two years ago, HootSuite is my new best friend. I can have an "always on" stream on #LEED if I want to, side-by-side with a tab that displays my incoming feed, outgoing stream, mentions and direct messages. I can instantly add a tab to follow a conference hashtag for a while and then simply delete it when the conference is over. I no longer have to monkey around with logging out and logging in, or having multiple browsers open, just to manage two accounts. I can even tweet the same message from multiple accounts simultaneously.

The absolute best part is being able to schedule tweets for the future. The obvious use of this is to have your feed covered while you are away from work, but it is also a great tool for keeping one feed going with generic program tweets while you are at a conference using the other feed to capture key soundbites. The scheduled tweets line up in a list right next to your already-sent tweets--or anywhere you want to put this list, since all the columns you create can be dragged and dropped within the console to optimize your display. While I am still getting used to the HootSuite for Blackberry app, on my computer it's already become second-nature to use this great tool. Now I can literally tweet while I am sleeping!

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