Beyond Lists: Use Filters to Manage Twitter

We each build our own communication channel on Twitter, choosing who to follow and list. However, based on a number of recent conversations I have had on Twitter and Google+, many Twitter users are overlooking a significant tool to customize their channel and reduce noise: filters.

If your Twitter stream clogs up every evening with color commentary on a TV show, filters can remove it, without unfollowing people you otherwise appreciate. If auto-post applications are filling your stream with drivel, filters can cut through it.

Filters change the list/follow/unfollow decision, giving you more control over the tweets you see from each person. The difference in the stream of a single person may be minor, but across even 50 people, filters can be the difference between a stream of noise and a source of content and conversation.

Note I use Tweetdeck and the information here is specific to Tweetdeck. TweetDeck filters are at Settings >> Global Filter. Other applications, such as Plume for Android, allow similar filtering.

Accounts

Are there bots that retweet everything you post or individuals that spam hashtags you follow? Filtering users can remove consistent sources of clutter from mention and search streams.

Words

String filters allow you to filter hashtags, and with a little more effort, remove a portion of the noise around specific topics. The filters I use, for example, remove some of the noise created by Klout’s +K.

My current word filters: #glee, #sytycd, #bakechat, ty 4 the follow, charlie sheen, charliesheen, +k about, +k my influence, #thevoice, received +k, klout.com

Applications

As Twitter is increasingly integrated into other applications, application filters will become more important. For example, if you are not interested in checkins or already see them directly in location apps, filter those applications. If you are tired of Triberr, you can easily remove all Triberr tweets with an application filter.

My current application filters: foursquare, gowalla, paper.li, twitterfeed, listnotify, mylinksmyads, tweet old post

While Twitter management begins with lists, don’t ignore the ability of filters to refine the tweets you see from people you have listed. By cutting down the clutter, you can more quickly find great content and conversations on Twitter.

Your Turn

What words and applications do you filter (or would like to)? What other ways beyond lists and filters do you use to reduce the noise and uncover content and conversation opportunities in Twitter? Share your tactics below or with me on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. E. Rice says

    Hi Eric- thoughtful post and great tips. I have considered filtering when someone is engaged in a twitter chat and they are very active. (I’m sure I’ve been on the reciprocal end too!) But I only want to do this temporarily- sometimes I do want to learn more about the topics, but sometimes I just need to quickly scan my network. It would be great to someday have a ‘time constrained’ filter (filter today only from 2-3) or a quick filter-hashtag-now button.

    Cheers- E. Rice
    @riceek

    • says

      I agree, that is a nice feature Plume has, you can temporarily mute a user. Normally I would just block the chat hashtag, if I’m interested in the chat content but I don’t have time, I probably shouldn’t be looking at Twitter in the first place! Good feature requests here in the comments, hopefully someone from Tweetdeck will stumble across them.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, I appreciate it!

  2. says

    Eric, I know that there are symbols to represent Boolean operations but is there an actual query syntax that seems more natural. By the way, I like your post a lot and will put it into place right now.

  3. says

    Yes, I know about and use this feature. What I’d like to see is an easier way to add/remove people/words/sources. Rather than going into Settings how about Right-Click or Other Options|User/Word/Source|Add to Filter. The lists in Settings should at least be alphabetized to enable finding and removing filters. A drop-down list-box would be even better. Thanks!

    • says

      Good recommendations, I wish I worked for Tweetdeck / Twitter now! Yeah, it could be a management nightmare as you add filters (you can see I have some that are probably no longer relevant). I would really liek to see Twitter build something like this so it is a true global filter, regardless of what application I’m using for Twitter. Maybe they are listening?

  4. says

    If you always use some kind of text copy-and-paste to save and manage your different lists of “the filtered”, you can develop manual limited filter lists to paste into and replace in Tweetdeck on demand.

    Lost a long list of “the filtered” because there was no way (other than the above) that I know of to save the lists — they’re only temporarily within Tweetdeck — and I didn’t think of doing it.

    Dear Tweetdeck: How about “Export/Import Filters”?

    While I don’t have you on the phone, Tweetdeck, volume control is not enough. I want to pick my own Notification Sound. The default Tweetdeck Sound Notification sound’s days of being the only Notification Sound choice have flown the coop.

  5. says

    Great highlighting this feature. More people should put it to work. I use Twitter for Mac now, but next time I pop open Tweetdeck I’m going to set up some filters. =)

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