By Shai Coggins, Social Media Manager and Strategist at Vervely.com

This is the first post of a new series offering technology tips and tricks to help you work more efficiently and get the most out of IT.

Have you ever wondered how people use Twitter and still stay productive at work and in life? How is that even possible?

Believe it or not, all you need to do is use the right tools and develop the right habits. 

 

What are the best tools for using Twitter more productively? 
There are several tools available to make the time you spend on social media channels like Twitter more efficient and effective. Examples include the native Twitter app for Windows, Tweetdeck and HootSuite.
Although it may seem overwhelming to learn yet another tool, don't let that thought stop you from downloading one of these apps for your computer or mobile device. The apps are relatively easy to learn, and, once you get the hang of it, you'll find that it makes your Twitter usage a lot more manageable.

Once you've downloaded and installed your Twitter app of choice, follow these three steps:

1. Log-in and authenticate your account on your Twitter app. Just follow the prompts and you'll be set-up in no time.

2. Create Twitter Lists. Even if you end up following thousands of people, lists help you keep in touch with and follow your most important contacts and accounts. Public lists can be viewed and subscribed to by anyone, while private lists are only for your personal benefit.

You can create lists for all sorts of different reasons. For example, "Close Friends" (personal friends on Twitter), "Great Thought Leaders on…" (experts in a subject you're interested in, like nonprofit leaders) or "Work-related Tweeps" (people and accounts you follow due to your professional role).

3. Set-up Twitter Streams. Most of the time, the app will pre-load basic Twitter streams, such as your newsfeed, replies, sent Tweets and direct messages. If you don't have them pre-loaded, or you want to add more streams, just follow the prompts. Get the basics set-up, then add new streams of interest. For example, you can add your lists, hash tags to follow or search terms you wish to monitor. By setting up these streams, it's easier for you to follow specific topics and people of interest.

Once you have these three things set-up, your usage of Twitter will already improve a lot. The next thing to do is develop the right habits for productive Tweeting.

What are the top 3 habits of productive Twitter users?
1. Have at least one goal for your daily Twitter usage. It doesn't matter what that one goal might be: "Find a useful article for work" or "Share at least one useful Tweet a day" or "Connect with one Twitter contact by re-tweeting (RTing), answering one of their questions, commenting on one of their posts or just say “hello". Once you've completed that goal for the day, congratulations! If you want to do more, then those extra tweets are a bonus.

2. Spend time developing your Twitter streams. Many new Twitter users are not sure what the purpose of Twitter is and often get overwhelmed with all the random information in their newsfeed. When you set up Twitter streams in areas of interest, you'll immediately see the difference between random Twitter usage and purposeful Twitter usage. Take time to develop your lists and figure out the best hash tags to follow, so you'll be able to use Twitter much more productively.

3. Use 'down time' as Twitter scanning time. Install your Twitter app on your mobile device to easily use some of your 'down time' to catch up on your well-planned Twitter streams. Scan your streams while commuting on the bus or train, in-between meetings or while queuing at the bank or post office. By using some of your down time on Twitter, you’ll be able to succeed in accomplishing your daily Twitter usage goal.

Now you are set – Happy Tweeting!

If you are already an experienced Twitter user, please share the different tools and habits make your Twitter use more productive. And, for those of you just getting started or re-committing yourself to the Twittersphere, I’d love to hear how these tips help you in the future.