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'Help! Twitter doesn't do everything I want…'

Manage Flitter

Twitter tries to keep things simple, but that isn't always ideal: for example, searches only go back ten days, which is a problem if you need to find an older tweet. That's where SnapBird (snapbird.org) comes in handy: it's a time machine for Twitter, enabling to search people's feeds for results the main Twitter site won't find.

Another example of Twitter simplicity is the way it deals with retweets. If you want to see who's retweeted your tweets, just tap on Connect > Interactions and hunt for the little retweeted icon (the two arrows in a square).

If you're hunting for retweets of old, once again a third party service comes to the rescue: Favstar.fm, which enables you to see what was retweeted and by whom over several months. It also enables you to see which of your tweets have been marked as favourites by others. The service works as a stand-alone website, but some Twitter clients such as Tweetbot include Favstar integration.

Another useful one is bit.ly, a link shortener that enables you to see how many people have clicked each link. Some Twitter users try to game the system by following you, waiting until you follow them back, and unfollowing you again.

You can prune your Twitter feed of such chancers with ManageFlitter, which connects to your Twitter account and analyses the people you follow. The service then enables you to unfollow anybody you who doesn't follow you back, who tweets too much or who doesn't tweet at all - a sure sign of a spammer.

If you use third party services, it's a good idea to visit the Applications tab of your Twitter profile from time to time: here you'll find the various programs that have access to your Twitter account, and it's a good idea to prune it from time to time so you're only giving access to the apps and/or services you actually use.

There's no getting away from the fact that Twitter requires constant management but it needn't spoil your enjoyment of it.

The Tap! guide to Facebook

The world's favourite social network; so popular, Hollywood made a film about it. But there's more to the Facebook app than you might think

With nearly a billion users, Facebook is the most popular social network on the planet. That's good if you're looking for somebody, because the chances are that they're already a member, but it can be bad, because Facebook's desire to encompass the entire internet means that it can be occasionally confusing.

Facebook started off as a way for university students to talk to one another, but it's since expanded to include the entire world - and that expansion means it's changed quite a lot along the way.

Its News Feed is, ahem, inspired by Twitter, while its Places owes a debt to the location service foursquare. These days it's a gaming platform, a news outlet, a social calendar, a place to find out about your favourite artists, a photo sharing service, an email alternative… if Facebook doesn't already do it then it's probably planning to.

Unlike Twitter, where you can see almost anybody's updates, Facebook is designed around friendships: in order to see your updates, photos and posts, you need to accept somebody as a Facebook friend. That means the first step for most Facebook users is searching for people they know, sending them a friend request, and waiting for the requests to be accepted.

Face up to it

In the real world, we share different things with different people, so for example what you tell or show to your friends might differ dramatically from what you tell or show the boss. With Facebook, it's possible to have both your friends and your work colleagues as Facebook friends, so it's important to spend some time looking at the privacy options.