6 tools that help businesses tame Twitter

Twitter can be a valuable resource, but only if you manage it effectively. We look at six tools that can help cut through the noise.

Twitter can be a powerful business tool, not to mention a valuable source of metrics data and feedback. If not managed properly, though, Twitter tweets can quickly become overwhelming -- sifting out the nonsense to get to the nuggets of useful information can become a full-time job. Thankfully, there are a variety of tools you can employ to help your business manage Twitter and cut through the noise.

This article takes a look at six of those tools and examines what they have to offer to help you efficiently manage your Twitter social network. We'll explore how effective the tools are for building a loyal Twitter following, the features available for sending or scheduling outbound tweets, and what capabilities exist to monitor Twitter traffic to build your brand and respond quickly to any negative comments.

(Note: More general Twitter clients such as TweetDeck or HootSuite also contain some management functions, but this article focuses specifically on Twitter management applications.)

MarketMeSuite

MarketMeSuite

Price: $5.99/month or $34.99/year

MarketMeSuite bills itself as the "Social Media Marketing Dashboard," and the title seems appropriate. The main window of MarketMeSuite looks a lot like TweetDeck, with various streams of incoming content filling different columns. But the left pane of MarketMeSuite is filled with options and tools to help you manage your company's social media presence.

MarketMeSuite lets you schedule tweets to go out on specified days and at specified times -- even years in advance. You can also target Twitter users based on language and location, so you can filter out Twitter followers who are unlikely to become your customers and build a following of pertinent users. MarketMeSuite reply campaigns let you track conversations on Twitter based on keywords so you can stay engaged on topics relevant to your business or tweet threads related to your business. (The application also works with Facebook.)

You can use Twitter more efficiently by setting up your company blog or other sources of information your customers and followers might be interested in to automatically tweet via RSS feeds. MarketMeSuite can be configured to send you an email when your brand or product is mentioned on Twitter, enabling you to stay engaged in the conversation and to respond quickly to any negative comments.

Twitter clients

MarketMeSuite has options and tools to help you manage your company's social media presence.

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One of the driving forces of Twitter for most users is reciprocity. It is a sort of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" mentality, where if you follow a Twitter account, there is some expectation that the user will follow your Twitter account in return. MarketMeSuite lacks some of the reports and analytics of a product like Sendible, but it does include tools that make it easier to unfollow unproductive Twitter accounts.

MarketMeSuite has a single price of $5.99 per month, which includes unlimited accounts, free updates, tutorials and support. MarketMeSuite also offers a half-off deal on the annual plan, priced at $34.99.

Nimble

Nimble

Price: Free (individuals); $10/user/month (Nimble Team)

Nimble is more about consolidating social networking efforts and streamlining participation on social networks. It lacks some of the more advanced management and metrics functions of the other tools featured here, but its simplicity, the way it lets you track your various contacts and its team features can recommend it.

Twitter clients

Nimble lets you view all your communications and interactions with a specific contact.

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The Nimble screen is clean -- almost austere. With Nimble, you can add your email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, and then view all of the messages and status updates as a single stream. (While some may find it useful to monitor all their services at once, I actually found that this method added exponentially to the noise. It's a matter of personal choice.) I did like how you can click on an individual contact and be able to view all your communications and interactions with that one contact -- and then respond to them within Nimble. It also pulls in all the available social networking information about that individual, giving you a great deal of useful data in one place.

Where Nimble really adds value, however, is when you have a team of individuals working with social networks for sales or marketing. Nimble Team ($10 per user per month) lets you select individual messages or status updates and use them as a basis for assigning tasks -- for example, if a client has tweeted about a problem with your product, you can assign a team member to follow up. Nimble gives an organization the tools to pull all of the different message streams and all of the relevant users together, and manage them all more seamlessly.

However, when you do import your contacts, make sure you do it carefully. For example, you can only import a maximum of 5,000 Twitter contacts; because I allowed it to import all my contacts, I ended up with 4,955 Twitter contacts in Nimble (I'm not sure what happened to the other 45). I would have been better off using the drop-down menu to import just the 200 or so Twitter accounts that I follow.

Nimble Contact is free for individual use. Nimble Team is $10 per user per month.

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