We get the question every now and then, from clients as well as other designers, as to how we use twitter, what apps we use, how to get a custom short url and basic twitter etiquette. So read on to learn how we get our tweet on.
We keep separate Personal and Business twitter accounts
Its usually a good idea to keep your business twitter account separate from your personal one. Here at Transform we each have our own personal twitter accounts and then have our shared company @thinktransform account feeding into the site. Our @thinktransform twitter account is shared which is why we set some ground rules as to what contributors are and are not allowed to post on the shared account. It helps to set a theme for your twitter feed, that way contributors and followers know what to expect on there. Our twitter feed topics consist of Design, Technology, and Company Announcements (such as news, events, & new projects).
We love twitter apps
There is more to twitter than just twitter.com. Apps + today's smart phones really take twitter to a whole new level by allowing people to update their status from anywhere/anytime; with pictures, video, and audio. There are a ton of twitter applications out there, from mobile to desktop to web-based (SAAS). The selection is endless but there are only a few of which we endorse.
iPhone and iPad app
For your iPhone and iPad we recommend going with the official twitter app (formerly Tweetie by Atebits) Echofon. This app allows you to have multiple twitter accounts as well as supports the ability to have a custom short url (I'll tell you more about this later), has a darn snazzy user interface, and to top it all off its FREE ($4.99 for the ad-less Pro version).
You might be surprised what app we use on our desktops, actually its not a desktop app at all. Infact its a SAAS (Software as a Service) called CoTweet which we run as a desktop app using Prism. So why CoTweet? Well its FREE, built for businesses, and supports multiple contributors for a single business twitter account using separate user logins and something called co-tags. Co-tags are contributor signatures for twitter posts. So, for example, on our twitter feed you will notice something like ^MS and ^AK, those are Matt and my contributor signatures so people following us know who is saying what. CoTweet also has many other cool features such as assigning which contributor is on-call and tag searching so you can always be on top of topics which pertain to your business. Finally, CoTweet also supports custom short urls which I am going to talk some more about next.
Yo Yo! We brand our short URLs
If you haven't noticed it, we have a custom short URL domain, trns.fm, for all our twitter links. Infact we even have our website integrated to allow people to retweet our blog posts using our custom short URL. Custom short URLs are a great way to further brand the twitter experience.
So first things first, you need to find that great short URL. At Transform our domain hunting starts with an awesome site called Domai.nr (they even have an iPhone app). Simply browse to the site (or app), pop in a word and see what recommendations come up. Domainr helps to broaden your domain name vocabulary by giving you domain options you never even knew existed. Thats how we found our short domain and even our transfuse cms domain, transfu.se, pretty nifty, eh!
Once you have your custom short url registered head on over to bitly.pro and signup for a FREE account. Once you have everything setup there you can setup CoTweet and your iPhone twitter app to use bitly.pro to create and share short links using your your custom domain. Now the only thing left to do is integrate your site.
We integrated our site with twitter
By having your twitter feed show up on your site as well as allow users to easily tweet your blog posts, you further enable users to connect and share with you. There are a huge amount of scripts out there which allow you to integrate with twitter, but personally we like the simple and elegant ones.
To have our twitter feed show up on our site (you can see it in action in our footer) we use the jQuery Tweet script from seaofclouds. This script is highly flexible, easy to use, and works like a charm.
For our retweet script (you can see it action on our blog) we use the jQuery Retweet Script by John Resig himself (the creator of the jQuery Library). We especially like this retweet script because it also allows you to create custom short urls for your blog posts automagically using your bitly.pro account.
Go get your tweet on
Now remember, all these applications are just recommendations, you are free to use whatever you are more comfortable with but as you can see we have gone through the trouble of making sure that everything we chose here, from apps to scripts, are well thought out, work well together, and cost absolutely nothing (other than the cost of your custom short URL). With that said, good luck and happy tweeting!