Category Archives: Twitter Tips

How To Know Instantly Whenever Key Accounts Tweet

There can be real benefit in monitoring key accounts to know immediately when they are tweeting:

  1. In an emergency situation, receiving updates from key emergency service accounts;
  2. If you are reporting on a breaking news situation, receiving updates from key accounts live-tweeting the situation;
  3. If you are trying to get the attention of someone, know immediately when they are sending tweets so you can tweet them at a time your tweet may be seen (you’ll still have to figure out if their tweets are scheduled or live, however);
  4. If you’re trying to assist someone over a specific time period, such as by being a super advocate for them, it’s often beneficial to keep up with their Twitter activity so you can respond quickly where appropriate;
  5. Etc.

Additionally, if you choose to monitor account(s) by receiving their tweets via email, you get a searchable record or all tweets that you can access easily from any computer, since most email services have an easy-to-access webmail interface.

While there are several approaches to doing this, I’m going to avoid the ones that rely on Twitter search results. That would typically be where you would use an app an enter a search for “from:username” (without the quotes) where “username” is the name of their account. For example, to see our tweets, you would search for “from:tweetsmarter” (without the quotes). However, Twitter search is unreliable, so I don’t recommend methods that rely on it.

Start Monitoring Key Accounts in Three Simple Steps

There is a much simpler approach that will allow you to receive the tweets of your target account(s) via SMS or email. Click the links in the steps below for more information.

If you want to do your monitoring by SMS (text messages sent to your mobile phone), simply follow the steps below. If you want to receive the tweets from the account(s) you’ll be monitoring by email, you’ll need to have your SMS messages delivered via email. A simple way to do this is to set up a Google Voice account (if you don’t already have one) and have the SMS messages sent to it by enabling Google Voice Text Messaging to email.

1. Follow Them!

The first step is to follow the account(s) that you want to monitor, either from your own account, or from a new Twitter account you’ve created specifically to monitor them. To create a new account, simply log out at, and click the links and fill out fields to create a new account. (Caution: Do not create more than 1-2 accounts every few days. Twitter will suspend accounts if you create too many to quickly, although there is no absolute limit to how many you can have. So if you have to create other accounts for some purpose, be sure to create no more than a few per week.)

2. Enable SMS Notifications

Set up your account to receive Tweets via SMS from people you follow.

3. Set To ONLY Receive Tweets From Key Account(s)

Next, turn OFF receiving updates by sending only the word “OFF” to your Twitter shortcode, which will turn all updates off. Finally, turn updates on ONLY for the accounts you want to monitor by sending “ON username” to your Twitter code for each username you want to monitor and receive tweets for.

Use Your Own Account, Or Start A New One? SMS or Email Notifications?

In most cases you can simply use your own account and monitor by receiving text messages of all tweets from the accounts you are monitoring.

As previously mentioned, receiving via email has the advantage of providing you a searchable record or all tweets that you can access easily from any computer.

Other than not wanting the accounts to know you are following them (for whatever reason you feel you need to be stealthy), using a second account really just provides you more flexibility. It means you can use your main account for SMS notifications, and the second account for email notifications, for example.

How to get to show you more tweets when you page down

Since Twitter regularly increases and decreases the number of tweets you can see on to help limit network traffic, sometimes you’ll only be able to see a very limited number of tweets, sometimes even only one page’s worth. Try this tip to see more:

We experimented saving pages of tweet results in some tests over several weeks, and saw that this tip was VERY consistent: will usually show you more pages if you HOLD DOWN the page down key on your keyboard CONTINUOUSLY until the page stops scrolling. For some reason, holding it down almost always shows you more pages than scrolling down, or than by pressing page down once, pausing, pressing again, etc.


How To Animate Your Twitter Avatar

Just a personal note before we begin: I think most animated avatars are not a good idea. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should ;-)

How to do it

Officially, Twitter does NOT support animated avatars. If you try to upload one it may or may not succeed. Some people are successful only after many attempts on different days.

But it’s easy to do: simply find or create an animated GIF and then upload the image file as your avatar. Remember to clear cache afterwards (see ) to make sure you can see if it worked.

Once you have an animated GIF, you can also use it for your background. If you use a very large animation, or if you set your background to tile, you may want to make your sidebar transparent (here’s how) so the animation shows through.

Options for making an animation

If you’d like to use an online service to make your own animation, try some of these websites.

If you’d like to search the web for an existing animation, try adding keywords to this search for animated GIFs.

If you’d like to create one yourself from a video using Photoshop CS5, try this technique: