Most Twitter users probably follow under a thousand other people, but that’s enough to make it hard to keep track of the real-time stream. I actually started having trouble keeping up when I hit about 50 follows — and depending on how prolific the people you’re following are, you could be dealing with a hard-to-parse Twitter stream even following just a handful of people. But while people like social media fanatic Robert Scoble, who follows over 100,000 people, appear to have the superhuman ability to stay on top of things, the rest of us need help filtering the Twitter stream.
Fortunately, there are a good number of methods and applications we can put to work to filter tweets from the people we’re following. Which work best for you? Let us know in the comments.
(Please note that a few of the apps in this post actually do multiple types of filtering, and so could have theoretically been added to more than one category.)
One way to filter Twitter is by keyword. Filttr is a full-featured, web-based Twitter app that includes keyword-based filtering. You can both blacklist and whitelist key phrases and Filtter will block or allow those tweets. Flittr, though, has a pretty steep learning curve, and before I even added any keywords it started filtering tweets — and took a particular dislike to a few of my Twitter friends. I’m not sure what criteria it was using for those initial filters.
Philtro, which is also in private beta, learns what types of tweets you like based on your ratings. Give thumbs up and thumbs down ratings to tweets, and Philtro slowly figures out what you like and attempts only to bother you with tweets you’d be likely to want to read.
About 19% of all tweets contain links, but if your Twitter stream moves quickly, you may miss many of the best unless you use a filter. MicroPlaza organizes the links tweeted by out by your followers by recency or popularity. MicroPlaza personalizes the concept employed sites like Tweetmeme, Twitt(url)y, and dailyRT, which assume that the more a link is tweeted, the more worthwhile it is of your attention.
MicroPlaza not only looks at which links are being tweeted and retweeted the most, but also which are being tweeted specifically by the people you’re following. The idea is that you’re most interested in things your followers are saying (otherwise, you wouldn’t be following them), so if they tweet about popular links, they’re more likely to be of interest to you.
One of the coolest features of MicroPlaza, though, is that you can assume the identity of any other Twitter user — so if you follow someone very connected to a specific industry, you can see the links that their friends are sharing.