There seems to be a new Twitter app every few hours. Some, like Twitter Mood Status or Twistori are entertaining distractions, but are hardly essential tools. Here are some of the more useful applications of the Twitter API:

Search & Filter

Summize and Quotably both allow you track conversations and see what topics are popular. Quotably attempts to thread the search results from Summize, but in my experience it is impossible to do this effectively.

TwitBuzz is one of many similar sites to take the idea of monitoring trends a step further and does an excellent job or organising popular links and popular conversations. See also Tweetmeme, which seems a little more polished and Twitt(url)y with its simple and clear layout powered by Summize.

TweetWire does a good job of categorising the information in draws into newspaper style categories like sports, celebrities, tech and current election coverage.

TwitLinks narrows its sources to 'the worlds top tech twitter users', but - apart from the Jason Calacanis spam - the results are typically high quality.

Favrd keeps to the popularity contest just by listing the most 'favoured' current tweets.

Hashtags and Twemes take a different approach. Both search for tweets that have been explicitly tagged by users with the hash character (eg: #hashtag). These are commonly called hashtags, although naturally enough Twemes prefers the term tweme. I have a strong preference for Hashtags because of the much cleaner presentation, the interesting trend graph and a better selection of related search results (photos, videos, blog posts etc, all similarly tagged).


Twubble helps you expand your Twitter bubble (geddit?) by scanning through your current friends and looking at who they follow. The theory being that you'll probably appreciate those people too.

Twerp Scan helps you with the opposite problem. It checks the followers-to-following ratio for all your contacts and clues you in on those who may be trying to spam you. At the least, you can remove or block those users who clearly aren't taking any real interest in you.

My Tweeple is probably the most useful way to trim your followers into shape. It imports all your contacts and lets you immediately see who you follow, who follows you and when the relationship is mutual. You can view their Twitter page in a floating iframe window and you can see the same stats that Twerp Scan will give you. Best of all, you can follow, unfollow or block people from the page and even ding them to help other My Tweeple users identify spammers.

Tweet Clouds generates a cloud of keywords based on the text in your tweets. This can be pretty fascinating and has all sorts of SEO type potential. Tweet Clouds is a prefect example of a really simple but valuable idea executed perfectly. You can even mash in your tags and hopefully more services will be included soon. Similarly, TweetVolume will compare the total use of up to any five words or phrases from the public timeline.

I'd like to be able to review Twistory, which is apparently a way getting your tweets into your calendar, but I'm still waiting for an invite.


TwitPic probably adds the most value. You can upload a picture to the site directly or send one with your mobile phone and it will post a link via your Twitter account. People can leave comments below the photos and they will be sent as @ replies on Twitter. Perfect integration. SnapFoo is an uglier alternative, but it does support FriendFeed, Facebook and others.

Twitter Feed takes any RSS feed and posts from it directly to a Twitter account. You can control how often it tweets, so be sure not to spam your followers. If you want people to link to your content over Twitter themselves, then TwitThis gives you a simple badge you can add to your site.

I used to use Twitter to make little notes for myself when I was out and about and now TwitterNotes makes this practice more useful. Starting your tweet with a plus (+) character tells TwitterNotes to keep track of it for you so when you login later you get a list of your current notes to manage. Simple and handy.

plusplusbot also looks for user entered metadata to gather its information. In this case it searches for ++ (plus plus) or -- (minus minus). This slightly Orwellian construct lets you rate people (or anything). For example '@Foomandoonian++ because He wrote an excellent article about Twitter applications at' Try it!

Tweetburner is a URL shortening service in the same vein of TinyURL. While there are many, many alternatives already out there, Tweetburner has some extra features that make it ideal for use with Twitter. As you would expect, it can turn your long URL into one like, saving you valuable space in your 140 character tweet and then you can post directly to Twitter. There is the usual bookmarklet, making the whole process effortless. But the unique selling point are the statistics. You can come back later and login with your Twitter information and see how many people clicked on your links, complete with cute little graphs.

And finally...

Is Twitter down? Probably. And when Twitter is down, what are you going to do?

(Did I miss any really good ones? Please leave a comment and I will add them to the list :-)

EDITED ON 23 MAY 2008: Added Tweetburner and twit(url)y


Nice post. Thanks for bringing TwitterNotes to my attention. Have updated the "twitter as a command line" bit of the fan wiki - - down at the bottom in the list of "twitter hacks".

May 22, 2008 at 10:15 AM  

No problemo. I used the Wiki pretty heavily as a reference for this post, and plan to go back and read in more depth for a future article.

Curiously, the only bot I was really aware of on Twitter doesn't seem to appear on that page - the perplexing Br3ndaBot, probably the least intelligent AI.

Thanks for the feedback.

May 22, 2008 at 11:16 AM  

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