By Evan Carmichael on September 2nd, 2009
(Photo Credit: ~Ilse) In my last Twitter University post I talked about how you can monitor your brand on Twitter (How To Monitor Your Brand On Twitter – Twitter University). Today I wanted to share with you the one tool that saves countless hours of time, helps me connect with my customers, and lets me do it all within Outlook – my default email program. The best part is, it’s free!
There are countless Twitter applications that are popping that all promise to make us more efficient and help us leverage Twitter to a greater extent. One of my favorite tools is an application called TwInbox. TwInbox is a free Outlook plugin that allows you to manage your Twitter account through Outlook as well as gives you many customization options to do a lot of really cool, time saving modifications.
Outlook: The Ultimate Twitter Client
When I first got onto Twitter I went to people’s accounts to see what they were up to. After quickly realizing that it was taking up too much of my time I downloaded several Twitter clients and stuck with TweetDeck for a while but it sucked up a lot of my computer’s memory and I hated having yet another application that I had to load every day and keep open on my desktop.
I use Microsoft Outlook as my default mail and calendar program. It’s always open on my computer and I don’t know what I would do without it. When I first learned about TwInbox I was ecstatic – finally a way to have all my online communications together in the same program! No more flipping between applications and tying up computer memory!
Here is a little bit about how TwInbox works. Once you install it you’ll see a new toolbar at the top of your Outlook that looks like this:
From here you can create a new Tweet, ReTweet a post that you liked, and send direct and @ messages all from within Outlook. You can also choose to receive your Twitter @replies and direct messages to an Outlook folder. It comes in just as your regular email does and you can use the same Outlook reply features to respond to your followers. For example, if you click on a tweet and then hit ‘Reply’ it will send the author a direct message. If you click ‘Reply To All’ it will send them an @ message.
Having the Twitter integration into Outlook allows me to keep all my communications within one program and makes it easy to follow and keep in touch with my customers and people I find interesting. This integration alone has a ton of value and is definitely worth doing but here is what makes TwInbox really cool…
Advanced Twitter Integration
Once I started auto-following people who follow me I was bombarded with promotional tweets that were of no interest to me. I thought to myself: “If only there were a way to see the posts from these users that didn’t have links!”… well TwInbox gives you a feature to do just that – it’s called Searches and Groups.
Here is a screenshot of what it looks like and how I use it:
Since you can’t see the full line that I’ve highlighted, here is a part of what it reads: -http -@jaykubassek -@stagingdiva -@JohnOda -@Diannecrampton from:jaykubassek OR stagingdiva OR JohnOda OR Diannecrampton
These are the Twitter accounts of four of my authors / customers. I’ve specified in this rule that I want to follow the author accounts but I don’t want any links (-http) and I don’t want to read any @ messages from other people to them. This way I only get the Twitter posts that they write which are non-promotional and talks about what they are really up to. My only complaint with TwInbox right now is that you can only put a certain number of characters on each rule you create so you have to create multiple rules for a similar purpose (hint hint @TechHit).
Am I Missing Some Valuable Posts?
The question that always comes up when I show people this method is “Am I missing valuable posts that have links in them from my customers?” The answer is invariably, yes. However, it depends on what your goal is with Twitter. For me, I want to stay connected to my customers, congratulate them when they have a big win, wish them luck when they are off on a conference, send them best wishes if they are off on vacation, etc. These are all events that people Tweet about without typically including a link – you basically get the “good” Tweets without all the promotional links. Sure you will miss some valuable posts, but it’s worth it considering all the junk that you’re cutting out.
Save Your Time, Maximize Your ROI
One of the biggest complaints that people have with Twitter is that it takes up too much time and they don’t see the return on investment. Thanks to TwInbox I am able to check my @ messages, see what my key customers are up to, and respond to them to keep my name in their mind – I can do this all within 15 minutes per day. Considering that Twitter is consistently in the top five traffic sources to my website every month, I would think that’s a pretty good return on investment.
* Please note that I am in no way affiliated with TwInbox and don’t make any money from them. I just happen to love their tool and wanted to share it with you so that you too may benefit from it. Learn more at: http://www.techhit.com/TwInbox/twitter_plugin_outlook.html
Have you ever used TwInbox? What do you do to improve your efficiency and maximize your Twitter ROI? Please comment below – I would love to hear from you!
Tags: calendar program, computer memory, countless hours, customization options, default mail, email, extent, favorite tools, free outlook, ilse, leverage, little bit, Microsoft, microsoft outlook, Outlook, outlook folder, outlook plugin, photo credit, reply feature, TechHit, tweet, TweetDeck, TwInbox, Twitter, Twitter University