I have today added a new extension into my Google Chrome browser. That in itself is quite a remarkable thing as I very rarely use Chrome. It sits there on my desktop chiefly so I can include it in multi-browser tests of my own pages. My preference by far is for Firefox (even if they do irritate me occasionally by their too frequent updates).

This morning, however, thanks to Kevin Walsh on Google+, I learned of a new Chrome extension called SocialBro and decided to give it a try. It claimed to provide powerful analytical tools for Twitter accounts, and having played with it for a couple of hours the only appropriate word I can think of, although I know it tends to be overused, is “EXCELLENT!”

The first thing I looked at was a geographical breakdown of my followers (available both as pie-chart and map). Using one of my UK-oriented Twitter identities I quickly discovered that, whereas I’d previously thought the great majority of my followers were east of the Atlantic, almost half were in the Americas. This might mean, subject to further research, that I should be adjusting some of my content to fit existing followers. Alternatively, should I keep the content broadly similar but work hard to build up my UK following?

On another identity I found to my pleasure that almost 90% of followers were in the United States. That’s as it should be because the blog to which it relates is focused on this geography. However, for quite a while I’d seen a great deal of spam in that twitterstream. Because I separate out the most interesting tweeters into lists, and focus on reading lists rather than the main stream, it wasn’t causing me much of a problem. Or was it? I like periodically to scan the main twitterstream for new interesting friends, but the spam was probably drowning out a lot of useful content.

This is where SocialBro really came into its own. Firstly I asked it to separate out people who do not follow me back, then from among those to tell me which of them bombard me with more than 50 tweets a day. I didn’t count, but there were a lot. I moved the slider to the right, up to 100 tweets a day; still a lot. Eventually I discovered eight unreciprocating tweeters who’ve been sending me more than 500 tweets each per day. It took me less than half a minute to disconnect from them all. Spammers! You’re no longer wanted here!

I could go on. The ease with which SocialBro will now enable me to clean up my Twitter accounts is quite remarkable. And that’s only the start of its capabilities. Here is just a sample of what it can do for you:

  • enable quick following/unfollowing;
  • find “dead” followers (based on time since their last tweet);
  • see followers that you have not followed back, and
    as you follow them, help you allocate them easily to one or more of your lists;
  • report on times of day your followers are mostly on-line;
  • find potential new followers, sifted using a range of filters and search criteria;
  • analyse lists – this really was an eye-opener!
  • analyse competitors – I took a quick look at this; it looks powerful;
  • handle multiple Twitter identities, with easy switching between them.

I’ll stop at that, but there’s much more. The free version, which is what I’ve described here, will itself be a remarkable asset to anyone using Twitter seriously in their business. I came across very few limitations. The first was in the competitor analysis when I was told I could not analyse a competitor with more than 5,000 followers. The second was in the “Best time to tweet” analysis which for free users is based on one’s “100 top followers”. From this I assume there is, or is intended to be, a paid version. They show an impressive list of “VIP users” who presumably pay for the privilege … but I couldn’t find anything about it.

Without a doubt, SocialBro will become a key tool in my use of Twitter. I’ve seen some of what is here before, separately in a range of other tools, but never so well put together in a single application … and free!

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