Greg's Ramblings

Google Cloud, random tech, photography, etc.


How to be a Twitter power-listener

Part of our jobs as developer advocates for Google Cloud is to be very well informed on all things related to our platform and help developers find the signal in all of the noise. Monitoring and engaging in social media is a big part of doing this well.

Like most of you, I use the Twitter app on my mobile device as well as twitter.com in my browser, but the growing number of things I needed to track quickly made these tools too onerous. I remembered seeing TweetDeck years ago before Twitter acquired them. TweetDeck has been around for a long time with an interesting history (article, wikipedia) and this weird history might have contributed to the lack of awareness of how amazing it is.

From the official How to use TweetDeck page:

“TweetDeck offers a more convenient Twitter experience by letting you view multiple timelines in one easy interface. It includes a host of advanced features to help get the most of Twitter: Manage multiple Twitter accounts, schedule Tweets for posting in the future, build Tweet collections, and more.”

There is a standalone app for Mac OS but since the app doesn’t really offer any unique advantages, I use the web version at https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/.

Below is a screenshot of my TweetDeck setup (click to see full-size). I know, I know. It is a LOT of stuff on the screen, but I love this level of density. I know exactly where to look to find what I need to know. It’s my Twitter cockpit.

TweetDeck Screenshot

(click to expand)

Column types in TweetDeck

You can add new columns of the following types:

TweetDeck Column Types

As you will see below, I mostly use the Search column type because it gives me the most flexibility in what is included in a column. Each column has additional filters and settings but I rarely have to use these.

To set this up properly, I had to learn how to do fairly advanced searches in Twitter, so in addition to learning about TweetDeck, you might learn a few search tricks too in this article. All of the search strings in the column descriptions below can be used in the normal Twitter app/site, so I made each of them a link to demonstrate this.

My columns are setup as follows:

  • Column 1 (list): All tweets by my fellow Google Cloud Developer Advocates (member list — you should follow them all!). Our team is connected to many Google Cloud product teams as well as many external technical communities so I check this column frequently.

  • Column 2 (search): Same as column 1 but without retweets and it only shows me the tweets with 30 or more likes. I’m watching for things that get traction. This helps me discover important content that I may have missed in column 1.
    Search string:list:gcpcloud/developer-advocates min_faves:30

  • Column 3. (search): Tweets from the official Google Cloud Twitter handles — This column shows all tweets created by @gcpcloud (mostly tech-focused content) and @googlecloud (announcements, non-tech). I exclude replies in my view.
    Search string:(from:gcpcloud OR from:googlecloud) -filter:replies

  • Column 4 (search): Tweets that mention @gcpcloud or @googlecloud that have at least 10 likes. I used to show all mentions, but realized that it’s too much to keep up with.
    Search string:(@gcpcloud OR @googlecloud) min_faves:10

  • Column 5 (user): Tweets from @googledevs — pure developer content from across Google. This account has over 2.3M followers, so if you’re a developer, you’re likely already following it.

  • Column 6 (search): Tweets from @gsuite without replies. A lot of advancements are happening in G Suite, especially lately, and I want to keep up!
    Search string:(from:gsuite) -filter:replies

  • Column 7 (search): This one is a grab bag of other Google-related accounts I want to monitor. Most of these accounts only tweet once or twice a day, so rather than having a column for each account, I just lump them all together into a single column.
    Search string:(from:gmail OR from:googlemaps OR from:google OR from:gsuitedevs OR from:gmapsplatform OR from:firebase) -filter:replies

  • Column 8: Notifications. There are settings for this column that allow me to choose the types of notifications (e.g. mentions, retweets, quoted retweets, likes, followers, lists, actions on tweets I’m mentioned in, etc.):

TweetDeck Notifications Dialog

TweetDeck has several useful settings. Mine are set as follows:

TweetDeck Settings Dialog

I’ve found that I’m much more efficient and effective on Twitter since implementing this. There are many commercial tools that take this to the next level with built-in tooling for responding and assigning, sentiment analysis, etc., but I find that TweetDeck is perfect for what I do.


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