Without a doubt, Twitter has become a useful communications tool for everything from breaking news to emergency dispatches to business conversations. Most of us tend to use only a few of the features Twitter offers; just enough to do what we want to do. For example, I use Twitter daily, accessing it from HootSuite on the web or TweetDeck on mobile, and I just tweet, check my @ messages and DMs, peruse my stream, retweet a few tweets, then move on to something else.
However, the Twitter website is rich with features that may not be easily accessible (or even available) via other other tools. Even if you do use the website, you may be used to using Twitter in a certain way, but it’s worth exploring a few other tools. Here are a few good features that you might be missing out on that can be found on the Twitter website.
- Who to follow. I ignored the “Who to follow” link at the top of the newer version of the Twitter website, but one day I finally clicked on it, and was pleasantly surprised by this resource. The “View Suggestions” tab shows Twitter accounts that you might like to follow based on who you follow and other variables. These suggestions have been present on the site for a while, but I like the next tab, “Browse Interests,” even better for discovering new accounts to follow. Account recommendations are grouped into over 20 categories. The third tab leads you back to the find your friends feature you saw when you first signed up pulling from your address books in Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, and LinkedIn – warmer leads to people to follow.
- Twitter for business. Looking to use Twitter for business? Twitter has its own handy Twitter for Business guide including a glossary of terms, best practices, case studies and tips on optimizing your Twitter activity. (And you should also check out Meryl’s 62 Ways to Use Twitter for Business).
- Advertising on Twitter. You can get started with advertising on Twitter and learn more about promoted Promoted Trends, Promoted Tweets and even Promoted Accounts. And as an advertiser, you get access to Analytics.
- Searches. When you search for a keyword or topic in the search field at the top of your Twitter page, you can save the search. These saved searches will now appear as one of the linked tabs to the right of the Timeline tab. But searching on Twitter gives you more than just a search of all tweets with your search term. You can also click on the “Tweets with links” tab to filter the search results down to only the ones with links. Or you can see “Tweets near you” for geographically close Twitters tweeting on your topic of interest. And did you know you can also find people on Twitter whose Twitter names include your search term under the “People” tab? For more in-depth searches, use the advanced options on search.twitter.com.
- Twitter Tales. Looking for inspiration about unique ways to use Twitter? Look no further than Twitter’s own compilation of Twitter Tales, stories from Twitter users covering everything from humor to community.
- Lists. I’ve been remiss with using Twitter lists. But I’m finally learning to clear the clutter using them. I finally created a list simply called Short List, containing the 10 people whose tweets I really want to see on any given day. I’m also beginning to group like-minded Twitterers into lists, like one on Crowdsourcing.
- Twitter widgets. In the old days, these were called “Twitter badges” but today, they are Twitter widgets. They let you display Twitter updates on your website, and you can choose from four flavors: Profile to display your latest tweets; Search to display pre-saved Twitter search results that will update in real time; Faves to highlight your favorited tweets; and List to showcase one of your Twitter lists and the Twitterers on your list. You can set your tweets to post to your Facebook profile (but I personally say “Don’t do it”).
- “Follow Me” buttons. Official, compact, and in available in a variety of sizes and shapes, these “Follow me on Twitter” buttons look great on any website or blog.
- Keyboard shortcuts. Did you know there are keyboard shortcuts when using the Twitter website? Yes, there are:
It’s easy to overlook features on Twitter that you don’t immediately uncover and use frequently. Take a moment to look at other features like Trends (you can change these to more local or global with a click) and Retweets (discover who loves what you’re saying and thank them or return the favor with a reciprocal retweet). Click around on the Twitter site and see what other nuggets it’s hiding.
What is a feature on Twitter you didn’t notice at first but once you did, you loved it?