I am always surprised when I start meeting with a client who has used Twitter for several months (or years) yet is still logging in exclusively to Twitter.com.

To get the most out of Twitter, use a third party application.

This is an absolute requirement. You will not be able to use Twitter effectively or efficiently without using an application like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, or Seesmic. Once you learn how to use these applications effectively, you will be able to hone in on the most important information from your most valuable connections. (And, they’re free!)

I’m a Tweetdeck devotee. I’ve used it from the beginning. I used it to manage just one Twitter account, and, at times, I’ve managed up to 11 accounts on one Tweetdeck.

I know people who are similarly devoted to their own favorite application, but they all have similar functionality, so there is no wrong decision, really.

Confused by your options? Don’t spend a lot of time on this decision. Just pick one and try it out for awhile. You can always try another one later, as time allows.

Today’s Tip: Download a Third Party Application

Set your timer for 12 minutes. Then, if you you haven’t already, spend 12 minutes downloading and installing a 3rd party application (your choice!). Once it is installed, spend the rest of your 12 minutes checking out the features. Be sure to install columns for mentions and direct messages. If you have created any Twitter lists, add those also.

Tell me something! What is your favorite 3rd party application for Twitter? Why?