Everyone who reads this site is probably active on Twitter, and if you’re not and you’re an SEO professional, you should be. When just beginning to use Twitter, however, one pretty quickly realizes that the Twitter site is not the best for keeping track of your soon-to-be many connections, mentions, and direct messages.
So which third party client should we turn to? Here’s my take:
Hootsuite offers a full browser application, accessible easily through Hootsuite.com. Through this site, you are able to connect multiple Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts (maximum of 5 for the Free account. See OneForty’s review of Hootsuite Pro).
The features include:
- Up to 5 accounts connected (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
- Ability to add and delete columns
- Saving of custom search columns
- Ability to see your connections’ tweet Timeline and who has mentioned them, including the tweet.
- Good search functionality for finding new users.
- Ability to upload photos and videos and connect with your choice of Twitter photosharing services.
- Schedule updates easily for later publication.
I use the Hootsuite browser almost exclusively when I am not at work. I find it incredibly useful to be able to access my Twitter accounts from anywhere that I have an Internet connection.
Tweetdeck currently has a Chrome extension that a lot of SEO professionals use. I have used it in a limited fashion at this point, and it seems to work fairly well. I enjoy the multi-column view capability, which Hootsuite does not offer. Tweetdeck also brings shows previews of Youtube videos when the links are shared through a tweet. This enhances the user’s experience and allows for a helpful preview before watching a video.
The limitations of the Chrome browser app are very real, however, such as no ability to use a custom URL shortener such as Bit.ly. I also found a few features that were not as intuitive to use, such as
Tweetdeck is also in the process of beta-testing a web application for all browsers, much like Hootsuite. I wonder if the development will now continue since Tweetdeck was bought by Twitter, but I do look forward to trying it at some point. If it’s much like the Hootsuite browser, Hootsuite may have some worries.
Winner: Hootsuite. Tweetdeck’s Chrome app has great potential, but some rather glaring shortcomings as well. The fact that it not yet available to the public as a regular browser app tilts this one in favor of Hootsuite.
Tweetdeck, on the other hand, does have a desktop application for PC and Mac. I used to use this at my old job, where I connected in my personal Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as my work’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
I loved the ability to customize columns and save searches. When I first started using the client, there was a bit of a learning curve, but once you learn how the different functionalities work (retweeting, etc), the Tweetdeck desktop application is very powerful.
- Ability to customize the look and feel of the application.
- Ability to post to multiple accounts at once.
- Add and delete columns and lists as needed.
- Choose from lists of core Twitter columns, or create your own.
- Following, unfollowing, and blocking are easy to use and understand.
- Choose your custom URL shortener (bit.ly, awe.sm, etc) and your photosharing service.
- Schedule updates for later publication.
Winner: Tweetdeck by default, but I highly recommend this application.
Both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck offer iPad apps. I have both installed and have used both extensively. Here’s my take:
Hootsuite works well on any type and speed of connections. The interface is simple and easy to use. It is simple to add columns, search for people, see stats on your tweets (how many RTs, etc), and upload photos and files. Hootsuite will also suggest the names of your contacts when you begin to mention them in a tweet, which cuts down on the number of typos and tweets being sent to the wrong person.
Hootsuite also handles opening articles and videos well. The app opens webpages and articles in a screen that overlays your tweet columns. It is a mostly fully-functional web browser, actually, just lacking the ability to input a URL to browse to a site that is not connected to the webpage or article you are currently viewing. Scheduling tweets is easy and painful, though you cannot bulk schedule without Hootsuite Pro.
Tweetdeck needs some work. It works well on a fast connection, but when it is on a slow connection, it crawls. The customizable refresh rate is nice, as opposed to Hootsuite that does not have this functionality, but the app takes forever to update even when the refresh rate is set to optimal intervals. The Tweetdeck iPad app does show pictures and videos directly within the app. You can also use a custom URL shortener, which is a weakness of the Hootsuite iPad app.
The functionality I hate most about the Tweetdeck app is how it displays articles that you click on from your Twitter stream. When viewing in horizontal mode, the app opens a new screen, which almost always crashes. Viewing in vertical mode is better, as the article or webpage will replace where you write your tweets, but the area is only about 2 inches tall. You barely have space to fit in a full paragraph at a time.
Winner: Hootsuite. It is smoother, loads faster, and is more stable.
If we were keeping score, Hootsuite would be the winner in this face-off, I think. It wins 2 out of 3 categories.
I want to point out, though, that this is not necessarily a “who wins the most” contest. Use my above thoughts and make an informed decision for your own needs. For example, if you need to track your shortened links for client purposes, use the Tweetdeck desktop app. If you need to access your Twitter stream from anywhere, on any browser, I recommend Hootsuite. Use what works for you.
What 3rd party Twitter app do you use? What do you recommend to your friends and why?