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I love Twitter. So do about 175 million other people. But, there are cynics – people who just don’t see the value in Twitter. People who view it as a lot of time and effort for little gain. A colleague recently asked me “Is Twitter worth the trouble? Who has the time to read all those Tweets anyway?” This is a question that I hear very often from non-Twitter users, and I understand where they are coming from. Twitter is huge, and at times, seemingly unmanageable. But it is doable, and very worth it. Here are some tips to help you manage Twitter and get the most out of your time.

1. Number of Followers

Many people are obsessed with their number of followers. So much so that they will promise to follow you back if you follow them. This kind of desperate plea is frowned upon by many on Twitter. Yes, it is important to have followers. It is going to be pretty hard to gain trust and credibility on Twitter if you follow 800 people and only have 29 followers. But you don’t need thousands of them. Twitter is more about quality than quantity.

The same goes for who you follow. It is not necessary to follow everybody you come across. Manage who you follow on a weekly basis to avoid getting swamped by Tweets. I will often give people a one week window on Twitter to prove to me that they are worth following. If, by the end of the week their Tweets are irrelevant to me (they may be good, just not relevant) or if they have succeeded in completely annoying me, I will unfollow them. This is quite common on Twitter and helps clear a lot of the clutter.

2. Create Lists

Twitter Lists are used to organize other users into groups. The purpose of lists is to allow you to only read the Tweets of certain people. For example, some of my lists include Hockey, Family, Politicians, News, etc. If I was interested in only Politics on a certain day, I could choose that list and I would only be able to read Tweets from Stephen Harper, Jim Watson, Justin Trudeau, etc. By selecting this list, I have chosen to ignore the other Tweets that may have been distracting me. To learn more about how to create, edit or delete lists, as well as some other features, check out the Twitter Help Center.

3. Use Search

Twitter Search is a great tool for finding people and interesting Tweets. Try it now. Type in a topic of interest to you in the Search box. For example, I typed in “Egypt”. Now I can refine my search by Tweet, Tweet with links, Tweets near you or People.

If I choose “Tweet” I will get a stream of all of the Tweets than contain the word “Egypt”. Since Egypt is in the news quite a bit right now, there are hundreds of Tweets in this stream. But you may notice that some of the Tweets are labeled “Top Tweet”. This means that those Tweets were Retweeted the most of all Tweets containing the word “Egypt”. If I chose “Tweet with links” I will get a stream with Tweets that contain both the word “Egypt” and a link. I usually choose this option when I want to find Tweets containing my keyword accompanied by an article, blog post, photo or video. “Tweets near you” will show you a stream of Tweets written by people in or near your geographical location. Finally, by selecting “People” in a Twitter Search the results will show you Twitter users with your keyword in their Twitter handle, which in this case may (or may not be) irrelevant.

To avoid repeating this task every time you want to see searches on a certain keyword, you can save searches. Many people save search terms for items that they want to keep an eye on, making it quick and easy for them to check back on them. For example, many business owners or entrepreneurs will save searches containing their business name, product keywords, competitors, industry terms, etc.

4. Get Engaged

Participating in a conversation with others on Twitter can make your Twitter experience much more valuable. Many people who are overwhelmed with Twitter are those who are passive listeners – they just sit there for hours a day just reading every single Tweet. Yes, it is important to listen on Twitter, but by engaging with others in conversation you will make the most out of your time by learning, networking and gaining credibility.

5. Notifications

This is one of the best ways to not get bogged down with Twitter, especially on those really busy days. By setting up appropriate notifications, you can receive alerts of your phone, or by email, when some one follows you, sends you a direct message, mentions you in a Tweet with @ or when a specific user Tweets. For example, I get a notification on my iPhone every time someone mentions me in their Tweet with @jason_faber. That way, I can stay up to date with any conversation I am having on Twitter without having to spend 8 hours a day scanning my Twitter feed.

6. Twitter Tools

If you are trying to manage more than one Twitter account, I highly recommend using an external tool or dashboard for Twitter such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck, or TwitJump (just to name a few!). These tools allow you manage more than one Social Media account at once, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. as well as providing you with link shorteners, analytics and post scheduling. I would recommend this to a more experience Twitter user who has the responsibility of managing more than one account.

Try using these 6 tips to help you get the most out of Twitter, without getting overwhelmed. Do you have any other tips to better manage your time on Twitter? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!