15 Twittery Things for Your Holiday Enjoyment

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Today’s article is a little gift for all of you Tweeps (Twitter users) out there.  This is the most diverse list of new  Twitter apps, sites, services, and fun activities that I could find.  I thought about trying to tie in the 12 Days of Christmas, but I had 15 things, what can ya do?

1. Twitterank

Twitterank was created by a bored Google employee one night as he battled imsomnia in a hotel room.  What makes it different from all the other Twitter ranking sites out there?

Well for one, it’s largely based on the number of @replies you’ve received instead of the number of followers you have.  More over, he actually used the philosophy behind the Google Pagerank algorithm to put it together.  Pretty neat, huh?

There was some early controversy over this app because it requires your username and password.  Some people feared it was a scam set up to harvest Twitter accounts.  Fortunately the Googler, Ryo Chijiiwa, confirmed to everyone who he was and made it clear that the Twitter API requires the user info in order for Twitterank to do what it does.  I believe it is safe and it has been used by thousands of Tweeps at this point.

Here’s my Twitterank, if you’re interested. Note: You will need to actually update your Twitterank every once in a while, as it does not track you automatically.

2. Twinfluence

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Now if Twitterank and some of the other rankers aren’t enough for you, consider this an upgrade.  Twinfluence doesn’t just simply rank how “popular” you are, it ranks the amount of potential influence you have on the Twitterverse at large.

The readout screen is actually pretty complicated and for a full explanation (done very well, I think) check out their FAQ.  In short, the second order followers number (or “Reach“) tells you how many followers the people following you have in total.  You can see above that this is a surprisingly large number, even with a small number of primary followers.  The other metrics are summed up as follows:

  • Velocity” is the rate at which your Reach increases every day.
  • Social Capital” indicates how influential those followers are (this is where they begin to lose me).
  • Centralization” is how much your influence is based on a small amount of users.

Ironically, I got the same percentile ranking on both items #1 and #2…they must be somewhat legitimate, right?

3. Tweetwasters

This is a little bit of a different kind of ranker (and the last one on this list).  Tweetwasters measures how much time you have wasted making up silly things to post on your microblog.  The site essentially takes the number of tweets you’ve made over your entire time on Twitter, multiplies it by 30 seconds (the assumed average time per tweet) and give you some nifty stats on your total usage.   Tweetwasters is a little more on the fun side than anything else.  I ranked very poorly on this one, but check out the Hall of Fame…that’s a lot of misspent hours!

4. Twitter People Search

Twitter’s built in search may not be new, but it was recently restored to being more useful, so I thought I’d include it in this list.  They’ve reinstated the name search feature so instead of having to use Google to search for your friends on Twitter, you can actually use Twitter itself.  I’m not exactly sure why this was taken away, but now it’s back!

Just click on the “Find People” tab at the top.  If you want to search Twitter normally, just click “Search” at the bottom.

5. Twitter Venn

This app is really neat.  Enter any three search terms and Twitter Venn will construct a Venn Diagram (remember those?) for those terms.  You can see where each set of terms overlaps.  Also, it creates a tag cloud for each term to show you other words commonly associated with them.  It takes a few seconds to load, but I think it’s worth it.

Here’s what “Make,” “Use,”and “Of” look like on Twitter Venn.  Thanks to Violet Blue for clueing me into this app on her blog.

6. Twollow

If you want to use your Twitter account as a way to track all of the people talking about a certain thing, Twollow is the app for you.  You can set Twollow to look for any keyword and then automatically follow people that tweet that word.  This is great if you want to track mentions of your name, website, product, or (if you’re daring) favorite topic.  Just take care you don’t become a spammer.

There are both free and paid versions.  The main benefit to the premium account is that you get more keywords to track and email notifications.  Personally, I think the app is decent without paying the extra money.

7. Twilert

Similar to Twollow, Twilert sends you email alerts when specific keywords are mentioned on Twitter.  If your following/follower counts are keenly tweaked, you may not want to actually follow everyone who mentions you or your products online, so this is a much simpler solution.

One nice thing is that you can schedule your alerts (or “Twilerts” if you like) to be delivered once a day, once a week, or once a month.  For smaller keywords, you might want more emails and visa versa.

8. Twiddict

They say “necessity is the mother of invention.”  Well if ever there were a necessity for something, it would be for Twiddict.  Twitter has been doing much better recently in staying online, but sometimes the network does go down and many tweets are sadly stifled.  If you log into Twiddict at just these times, you can tweet with impunity and when the network goes back up, Twiddict will automatically load them into your account.

What happens when Twitter is running fine?  Twiddict will still allow you to post regularly through it and it will forward them to Twitter for you.  There is a handy indicator under the update box to let you know that status of the Twitter network.

9. Twitpay

These next few are still free, but are money related.

Twitpay allows you to pay people (or get paid by others) for various things on Twitter.  If you want to pay someone using Twitpay, simply send a tweet saying “@user twitpay $number for reason” and Twitpay will instantly figure out what you want to do and change your balance on its website.  You can enter in Paypal information and pay out what you owe.  If you want to collect what has been paid to you, you can get it in the form of Amazon gift cards (though they are apparently working on getting more payment methods).

There is a 5 cent commision fee for payments over a dollar (free for less than that), but that’s still better than most online payment systems.  Plus it’s definitely free if you’re on the receiving end!

10. Magpie

Of all the apps on here, I think Magpie has the brightest future.  People have been looking for a good way to monetize their Twitter accounts for a long time – especially power users – and this may be the solution.  Magpie inserts special “#magpie tweets” into your feed at intervals that you choose.  Each one contains a small ad that directly earns you money as soon as it goes onto your feed.

There are tons of customizable features.  You can choose how often they go up (how many regular tweets need to be between each magpie tweet), what the hashcode looks like (the #magpie part), where the hashcode goes in the message, and whether or not the ads need to be screened by you before they go up.

I’ve been using the service for a while now and I’m very impressed with it.  While there are a lack of advertisers so tweets are usually more scarce than your chosen ratio of tweets/magpie tweets, the interface is very easy to use.  If you want to see how much you could potentially make, just type your name into the box on the homepage and it will generate an estimate.  Just keep in mind that until their advertiser base is a little larger, it probably won’t be quite as high as the estimate.

11. Twitad

Twittad takes a little different approach to the Twitter monetization ballgame.  Instead of inserting tweets into your Twitterstream, it simply uses your background as a billboard.  Twittad makes it easy for advertisers to create a custom backdrop and then allow users to list their accounts for a certain amount of money over a specified amount of time.  It’s a fairly simple system.

The service monitors what your background is so that if you change it before the time is up, the payment stops.  Again, the main stumbling block for this service is the number of interested developers.  It never hurts to list yourself up there, though, so I suggest you try it out!

12. Twitbacks

Going off of the Twitter background theme, Twitbacks is a nifty tool to help you create custom background for your own Twitter account.  There isn’t actually a whole lot TO a Twitter background, since most of it is covered up by the Twitterstream, but the left sidebar and the general wallpaper are completely customizable.  Remember, you can also change other parts of your Twitter page in your account settings to match your new background.

It’s free if you leave on a little line about Twitbacks (which is very unobtrusive), or you can pay to have that removed.  The service has gotten much better recently, as you can now go back and edit your background multiple times without re-entering information.  This is important because sometimes you need to rejigger your text to make it look nice in the skinny sidebar.

13. Twitblogs

This reminds me a lot of iTweet, which we reviewed a while ago.  It’s actually very similar to Posterous, too.  Twitblogs is not a complete Twitter interface clone, but instead it’s more of an extension.  If you want to post directly to Twitter, you can use the Twitter tab to do so.  If you have “more to say” and need a space greater than 140-160 characters, Twitblogs provides you with a special little blog space dedicated to your own Twitter account.

Just go to Twitblogs and log in and you’ll given a space at “Twitblogs.com/yourname”.  There is essentially no set-up and posting is about as easy as you might imagine.  It even tries to replicate what your normal Twitter page looks like, though if you have a repeating background it doesn’t pick that up as well.

Here’s a little sample Twitblog post I made.  Once you have made your Twitblog post, it will use the title as your tweet and add a shortened URL of the post location behind it.  I think I’ll be using this one from time to time.

14. Post Like a Pirate

This is a fun little app I discovered while searching around online.  National Talk Like a Pirate Day is come and gone, but you can still get your peg-legged posting on with Post Like a Pirate.

Originally the service was designed for email only, but they added on a Twitter function so you can tweet as much as your parrot.  The line for your Twitter account still says “Email” for some reason, but that’s the place to put your username.

15. @tweetbomb

This last Twitter gift isn’t an app or website at all!  The @tweetbomb account has exploded (get it?) recently all over the Twitter landscape.  Every day at 3:33PM, a lucky (or possibly unlucky) user is chosen to be Tweetbombed.

When this happens, everyone following the @tweetbomb account sends a simple @reply with nothing after it to that person.  Typically this overwhelms the user, who may or may not even know what Tweetbomb is.  Of course this usually makes that user much more popular and nets them a number of followers.  This tends to mitigate the shock and awe.

Unsurprisingly, Twitter originally banned the @tweetbomb account because it violated their terms of service. When this happened, @tweetban came along to advocate for the reinstatement of @tweetbomb. As you can see, Twitter relented and the game continues every day.  Who knows…if you pop up on their radar, you might get Tweetbombed yourself!

From all of us at MakeUseOf, have a wonderful winter holiday!

If your favorite app isn’t on here, we’ve either covered it in a previous article (there are quite a few) or I’ve never heard of it. In the latter case, be sure to mention your favorite service in the comments…we do read them and it will help us figure out what to feature next!

And finally, make sure to follow MakeUseOf on Twitter.

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This article may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

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