Twitter’s recent IPO shows its commitment to becoming a profitable company in the social media space. Already, sponsored ads and trends have rolled out to multiple countries. But the company’s new business model is built on an extremely simple platform of only 4 main functions: you can follow or unfollow, send a message, output content, and reply to others. What you can do with Twitter on Twitter is fairly limited, so how can you access and use all the data that is amassed as millions of people interact with the site everyday?
Third party services, using Twitter’s Application Programing Interface (API) to help you manage many aspects of your account, have been around since the company began and encouraged developers to explore the possibilities of what could be done. The turnover at these companies is high, because as Twitter’s policies change, it affects the key features of many new apps built to interact with the Twitter API. However, the ones that have grown to provide users with functions that decipher and review analytics are extremely helpful at allowing you to use Twitter with insight and precision. Here are three key value-added features.
Follow ratio: When you see a follow ratio, it denotes how many followers vs. friends someone has. If someone’s follow ratio is low – usually below 80 per cent – he or she follows a lot more people than reciprocate. If you’re trying to raise your own ratio, you may target people with low follow ratios because it’s a safe bet they’ll follow you back (and won’t unfollow you if you unfollow them). Influencers, for example, are easily identified by having a very high follow ratio. If someone claims to have thousands of followers and be an influencer, have a look at their ratio. If it is close to 100 per cent, that means they follow as many people as follow them, and calls into question how influential they really are.
The user search: Twitter only allows a simple search of someone’s handle, content in a tweet, or trend. What if you want to connect with a specific industry? Or find someone in a certain job in an exact location? Doing a search through a third party allows you to identify people through keywords in their bios, by their location and more. Using words such as “media,” “marketing,” “publishing,” “book,” etc., will link users with common interests. Once you do a search, you can also drill down by numbers of followers, numbers of friends, and ratios.
The last tweet: If you’re on Twitter to raise your influence, have conversations, become engaged, or even just read new things on the main feed, you probably want to be connected to people who are active. When cleaning up your account or adding new people, make sure to have a look at when their last tweet was. Most services will offer you the ability to sort by date, or add a rule that limits your followers to those users who have tweeted before or after a certain date.
There are apps and companies out there who are constantly improving – or closing – based on Twitter’s API changes. Remember that not all are created equal, and try out the free version before jumping into the premium. Tools vary from providing the analytics mentioned above, to letting you check how many fake followers you have, shrinking links, and scheduling tweets and content. To find lists of eligible services, search for Twitter tools online – many reviews exist to help you find the one that’s right for you.