Operation: Twitter Automation, not autopilot, but a time saver.

I mentioned in my post, Searching Through Web Content, Part One of Three, RSS Feeds, that I search through a lot information looking for things to post to my LinkedIn Group, In House Designers and my Twitter accounts, @YourArtDirector and @IHDesigners. Well it just became too much and I had to figure out a way to automate it.

I took what I had learned from searching through all those blogs and websites and automated it. I choose what I let go to Twitter automatically very carefully. If the site or blog becomes a constant sales pitch I drop it. I also follow some great designers on Twitter and use Google Alerts to find blogs and sites to automate.

First I use a program called SocialOomph. What it does is follow everyone that follows me, and rotates automated messages thanking them for following me. Why in the world would I want to do that? Following others is a fast way to get more followers. I use lists to follow the people I’m most interested in, the rest I glance at from time to time to see if I want to ad them to my lists. It took me about 9 months to get 400 followers. Now that SocialOomph is turned on it has taken me about a month to go from 400 to about 650.

I use TweetDeck to monitor Twitter. I used to use HootSuite, but I switched for reasons I will explain later. I use multiple columns in TweetDeck to follow my lists, direct messages, mentions and other things. One column is monitoring what I tweet so I can make sure the automation isn’t getting too salesish. This isn’t an obvious function in TweetDeck. Here’s what I did to set up monitoring myself. I made a private list of all my Twitter accounts in Twitter, then in TweetDeck I made a column to watch that list. That’s where I find my posts for my LinkedIn Group, In House Designers. It allows me to look at only the posts that have gone out in the last day. I can also use TweetDeck to schedule tweets for a time I want them to go out. I use that feature to send out things I want to Tweet about that aren’t automated.

I use a site called TwitterFeed to do my automatic posts. I know a lot of people think automating Twitter is missing the point of Twitter, but I was spending two hours a night to search through RSS feeds and posting them to go out the next morning from 9:00am to around 1:00pm my time. Now I enter those same RSS feeds into TwitterFeed and they go out all day and night, which exposes me to a much wider audience, and I post more information. I was doing the same exact thing manually as I do now automatically only I’m doing it better. TwitterFeed also has some filtering you can use to limit some posts. Like I mentioned above, I mix in tweets about my company, products, trade shows, webinars using TweetDeck, but because I am growing my followers, the messages I care about are going to a lot more people.

Lastly I use Bit.ly to track clicks and make URLS smaller for Twitter. Bit.ly ties in directly with TweetDeck and TwitterFeed to shorten URLs automatically. I also have a bit.ly widget in my browser’s bookmark bar to quickly post anything I see while surfing sites and blogs. I also recently saw that Bit.ly has Bit.ly Pro in Beta now. It has more features and allows for custom URL shortening.

Best of all, all of these sites and programs are free. I could do the same thing, (except SocialOomph), in HootSuite for $20/month, which is why I stopped using it; I’m not making any money doing what I do in Twitter and LinkedIn. I do it to build resources for other designers and myself.

Take some time to set it up, watch what it is doing, so you don’t become a sales tool for someone else. It isn’t exactly autopilot, but it is a lot less time than it could be.