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Essential Twitter Applications Part 1 – Twitter Clients Reviews and Recommendations

November 3rd, 2009 | 21 Comments | Posted in Social Media


This is Part 1 of my Essential Twitter Applications Series.  Part 1 will cover Twitter Desktop and Web Clients.  It’s not one of those useless list of 50+ that you know you’ll never try.  Actually, since it’s based on my personal experience, it might be useless…Anyway, I’ve decided to pick the “big 3″ Twitter Clients according to TwitStat as of the November 3, 2009 ranking.

twitstat

I have personally tried all of these and use these Twitter apps to make my social media experience on Twitter more effective and efficient.  Take my reviews/recommendations with a grain of salt like any other reviews out there, but the ultimate decision should be based on your own experience.  Try them all out and see if it works for you.

One site that I will recommend is oneforty.com.  Oneforty.com has a comprehensive list of all Twitter apps for the desktop, web, smartphone, etc.  The reviews are user-based so there is some validity, but if you’re like me, you will most likely be overwhelmed with all the information.

So on with the recommendations on which Twitter apps you should start using now.   Keep in mind that there are a ton of other alternatives that probably work just as well, but using the most popular apps is a safe way to go.

Twitter Essentials Part 1 – Desktop/Web Clients (in no particular order)

  1. TweetDeck - desktop - This is the Twitter desktop client that I continue to use even after trying out the handful of other great desktop clients listed in this post.  Would I recommend TweetDeck?  Sure.  Are there better Twitter clients, absolutely.
    • Pros
      • Love the layout of the how the panes are set up.  You can add as many panes including searches and groups.  As far as I know there doesn’t seem to be a limit on the number of panes.  I have 20 or so panes set up on an average day.  This makes tracking conversations much easier.
      • Search function works okay, but could be A LOT better. Type in a new search keyword and a new pane opens up.  It gets the job done.
      • Ease of communicationTweetDeck makes it extremely easy to reply, RT, DM, or favorite.
      • Opening Twitpics and profile information is within TweetDeck and not a new window/column. I have enough windows and columns up and don’t need another.  When clicking on a twitpic or user profile info, it opens up directly in TweetDeck without having to open up a new window and without having to create a new column/pane.
      • Ability to report hot trends via TwitScoop.  TwitScoop shows up as a pane in tag cloud format.  I personally don’t care for it since I have 20 search panes up and running, but for personal users, TwitScoop keeps you in the loop.
      • Great Facebook and MySpace integration.  It’s very easy to  post messages and photos via TweetDeck.
      • Automatic link shortener (via bit.ly).  Time saver, period.
      • Supports personal bit.ly accounts.  This is huge for those tracking clicks.
      • Ability to minimize to window or tray.
      • Ability to organize followers into groups in bulk. Unfortunately, I started too late to take advantage of placing followers into groups and simply don’t have the time to do it, but this is an extremely valuable tool.  You create a group and a list of all the people you are following will appear allowing you to bulk add.
      • Notifications allow you to see the Twitter account and the tweet instead of just “14 friends in Social Media group”.  So if you have 14 new notifications, you can click through each notification and see the message.  If I have time to click through the new notifications, it’s a neat tool.
    • Cons
      • Following people and placing users into groups seem buggy.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  I’ve had to refollow/regroup multiple times because the request didn’t go through.
      • There is no way to save filters after restarting TweetDeck.  For example, I want to filter out tweets that come from twitterfeeds.  It’s incredibly time consuming when you have a couple dozen panes set up for filters to have to click “source” –> “-” –> “twitterfeed”.  To be fair, no one has this feature implemented.  I’ve asked Seesmic and Hootsuite as well.
      • There is no “near” or “within” search capabilities.  To my knowledge there isn’t.
      • Once you close a group, you have to recreate it.  Accidents happen and that can be very time consuming and extremely frustrating.
      • Managing multiple accounts can create havocTweetDeck has made it too easy to accidentally post a tweet to the wrong account.   Not friendly at all.  If this is a big concern, avoid TweetDeck.
      • Memory usageTweetDeck eats up memory like a mother….it will slow your computer way the hell down.  At home, I have a 5 year old desktop that lags whenever I use TweetDeck so I’ve stopped using it at home.  At work, my laptop has nothing installed so it works perfectly.
      • Limited photo options.  Just uploading.  Simple, but no extras.
      • User interface is well, quite repulsive.  There is a lack of keyboard shortcuts as well as unreliable mouse scrolling especially when you have many searches like I do.
    • Screenshots:
    • TweetDeck Review conclusion – I still use it and have no problems.  There are better desktop clients for sure, but TweetDeck offers all the essentials.  If other Twitter desktop and web clients including Seesmic and Hootsuite just took 1 or 2 things from TweetDeck, that combination would be nearly perfect.  TweetDeck is highly recommended, but there are better options.  The only reason why I need to stick with TweetDeck is the filter option within searches, which Seesmic and Hootsuite do not have as confirmed via each respective support staff on Twitter.
  2. Seesmic - desktop - I’m so used to TweetDeck that even a slight change to its user interface is an improvement.  Seesmic is a better choice if you hate TweetDeck‘s UI.
    • Pros
      • First Twitter Client to implement Twitter Lists as of this post date (11/3/2009) – Lots of people have found Twitter lists to be extremely helpful.  The fact that Seesmic was the first Twitter client to implement Twitter Lists, even before the masses received the ability to use the lists, says a lot about Seesmic.  With the majority of Twitterers using TweetDeck, I’m surprised they weren’t the first to have Twitter Lists.
      • Better user interface.  I especially like the left hand navigation, not so much the “left-handedness” per-se, but the fact that you can toggle between “home”, “replies”, “private”, “favorites”, all the different accounts you have added including Twitter and Facebook, userlists (groups), and of course searches.  Seesmic is better organized to a degree.
      • Search works well.  Again, it gets the job done, but there is a con.  See below in “cons”.  One thing that really stands out for Seesmic compared to TweetDeck goes back to the left hand navigation bar in Seesmic.  If you have a dozen or 2 different keyword searches like I do, in TweetDeck, that’s a lot of scrolling left and right.  Extremely annoying to say the least.  The huge advantage that Seesmic has is the left hand navigation bar.  Every search query is placed into that bar so if you quickly want to see a search, click and you can quickly return to the column.  Unfortunately, my screenshot did not capture the expanded search function, but it’s there.
      • Ease of communicationSeesmic makes it extremely easy to reply, RT, DM, or favorite.
      • Managing multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts is easy. Seesmic‘s ability to handle multiple accounts is much easier to handle and less prone to accidentally posting to the wrong account.  It’s little things like showing the Twitter avatar of the account that makes a difference.
      • More options for those big on photos.  You can upload photos, use your webcam, and drag & drop.  Pretty cool actually.
      • Userlists aka groups are saved so you don’t have to recreate it if you accidentally close it.  However, if you remove it, then tough luck.
      • Supports personal bit.ly accounts.  This is huge for those tracking clicks.
      • Ability to minimize to window or tray.
      • Uses less memory than other desktop clients.
      • Full name appears instead of just the Twitter ID.  I think you can see that in one of the screenshots.  In case you can’t, here’s an example: if you saw a tweet from me, it would indicate “shinng”, but it would also say, “Nick Shin”.  It’s a minor difference maker for most, but for me, it’s little things like this that make it stand out.
    • Cons
      • Seesmic offers only basic options.  If you just take a look at the screenshots of the TweetDeck and Seesmic screenshot 2, you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Both offer the traditional 4 Twitter icons (reply, DM, ReTweet, and “other actions” but TweetDeck offers more.  For example TweetDeck has the follow, unfollow, block, block & report to spam functions as well as favorite, email, translate, etc.  Seesmic has the very basics.  Maybe simplicity is the key, but personally I like to see those extras.
      • There is no way to filter sources unlike TweetDeck.  For example, I want to filter out tweets that come from twitterfeeds, no dice.   This is THE main reason why I decided to stick with TweetDeck.  Going through tons of twitterfeeds/API tweets is too much when you have a dozen or 2 keyword searches.
      • No MySpace integration. Yes, MySpace is still a force in certain industries.  It’s declining, but it’s still a prominent social networking site.  Not having MySpace integration could be a big turnoff for those that still use MySpace, for example, recording artists.
      • No extra “features” like TwitScoop (hot trends).  If Seesmic incorporated Facebook, I’m sure they will include extra features like TwitScoop.
      • Users must be added manually one-by-one in userlists. Unlike TweetDeck, which allows you to add users in bulk, Seesmic apparently does not care that you have to manually add individually.  Deal breaker for some.
      • Profile opens a new column rather than “over” the client.  Both TweetDeck and HootSuite do a great job allowing profiles to be opened without taking up another column.  Seesmic fails on that end.  Again when you have a dozen or so columns, why make me go through the trouble off scrolling back and forth then closing it.
    • Screenshots:
    • Seesmic Desktop Review conclusion – If you’re looking to make a switch from TweetDeck to Seesmic, it will take a little while for you to get used to the user interface.  If you’re managing multiple accounts go with Seesmic desktop.  If you have dozen+ searches like I do, but are not concerned about filtering, go with Seesmic desktop client.  The fact that search queries and other columns are saved even when closed due to the left hand navigation bar puts it over the top.   However, if you do have lots of searches and need to be able to filter, then TweetDeck works best.  If you are managing only a couple accounts, then either one will work okay.  I highly recommend Seesmic.
  3. Seesmic - web - The Seesmic Web Client would be an ideal Twitter web client if only they can fix a few nuances.  Besides a few quirky and funky functions on the web client, it was an okay experience.  One thing was clear though, I would not choose this over HootsuiteSeesmic web has a lot more updates to make before it catches up to Hootsuite.
    • Pros
      • Fast load times and using specific functions.  As any web/browser client should be, there is no competition between a Twitter desktop client vs a Twitter web client in terms of loading.
      • DMs are threaded.  This is my favorite part about the Seesmic Web Twitter Client.  Threaded DMs help you keep track of conversations and is ultimately a time saver.
      • Multiple ways to view and read tweets.  The 1st way is the traditional column view like the desktop client.  The 2nd way is the email/gmail format.  Personally I hate the email format, but as a user, it’s good to know that the option to change views is there.
      • Hovering over bit.ly links reveals the actual URL.  I think it’s a neat feature to have.  Users can’t hide behind a bit.ly.
    • Cons
      • Difficult to DM.  You can check out the screenshot, but in order to DM, a new interface opens up.  Unlike the majority of Twitter clients where you can DM within the same interface, the web version of Seesmic opens an entirely new view for DMs.  Moreover, in order to DM a specific user, you have to type in the username as opposed to clicking the username and automatically populating the username.  Very awkward and hard to explain.  Hopefully the screenshot will help a bit.
      • Frustrating and unfriendly user interface.  One quirk that annoys the hell out of me is in regards to sending an update.  So let’s say I want to send an update.  I would click the box to input text (like any other Twitter client), but in the Seesmic web client, a smaller window appears to input text and add a link unlike other Twitter clients where clicking on the text box means directly inputting text into said box.  However, let’s then say I decide I change my mind and no longer want to update, well, getting rid of that text box that opened up is impossible to get rid of.
      • Cannot handle multiple accounts.  If there is, I haven’t figured out a way to do so.
      • Minimal user options.  You can only reply to all, ReTweet, DM, or report spam.  If you want the bare minimum, i.e., simplicity, then the Seesmic web client might be a good option for you.
      • Cannot create userlists/groups.
      • Not very intuitive. It’s hard to navigate around and as mentioned before, there are just too many little quirks that are annoying.  Once you start playing with it a little, it becomes a bit more manageable.
    • Screenshots:
    • Seesmic Web Review conclusion – The Seesmic web browser client needs a hell of a lot more updates before it catches up to any of the desktops and it’s not even close to Hootsuite.  For basic needs, then the Seesmic web client will work just fine, but there are too many instances where certain actions and functions available will become entirely too annoying to keep using.  There are definite positives, but overall, the client falls short.  If you’re looking for a Twitter web client, go with Hootsuite.
  4. HootSuite - web - Plain and simple, I love HootSuite‘s Twitter web client.  When I asked my Twitter followers via @marketwire and @shinng which Twitter client I should use besides TweetDeck, I received a couple dozen @ replies and DMs all recommending HootSuite.  Not one person mentioned any of the other Twitter clients including PeopleBrowr, Seesmic, Co-Tweet, etc.  That goes to show how useful, easy-to-use, and robust the HootSuite web client is.
    • Pros
      • Schedule tweets – pretty useful email like functionality where you can schedule when tweets go out.  Interface is extremely easy to use and just a great feature.
      • Easy navigation/Love the tabs.  Maybe it’s because I’m used to using tabs for the internet, but I love the tabs in HootSuite.  Personal preference really.
      • Sharing multiple accounts is easy – When it comes to sharing, you can assign users to a Twitter account.  As an example, I manage the company account @marketwire, but let’s say I’m out on vacation and need someone to fill in for a week..or..a month, I can easily add a user for them to take control without comprising my personal account.  Or, if @marketwire grows to a million users and want to start delegating responsibilities for example, I tweet events and news, while another user replies and DMs only, I can easily do that on HootSuite.
      • Managing multiple accounts is easy.  Seesmic still has the best ability to handle multiple accounts, but HootSuite‘s isn’t too shabby.  TweetDeck‘s ability to handle multiple accounts allows for too many accidental posts while HootSuite does a somewhat better job by clearly indicating to which account you are posting your tweet.
      • Stats tracking functionality built into HootSuite, BUT (and it’s a huge BUT, like “I like big butts” kind of huge) read cons below - HootSuite uses the URL shortener, ow.ly, and by using this shortener, HootSuite can track clicks and positive/negative feedback automatically.  Although, you can sign up a personal account on ow.ly and use it on any other Twitter client, but it’s nice to see something built in.  However, ow.ly presents lots of issues especially with framing.  If you want stats tracking for your links, use bit.ly instead.
      • Search function works okay, but could be A LOT better. Type in a new search keyword and a new pane opens up.  It gets the job done.
      • Ease of communicationHootSuite makes it extremely easy to reply, RT, DM, or favorite.
      • Ping.fm integration – you cannot go wrong with having convenience on a Twitter client.  What is ping.fm?  By creating a ping.fm account, it allows you to have your tweets automatically sent to all your social media networking sites that you have set up in ping.fm.  Do I use this feature?  No, but it’s good to know that option is there.
      • RSS feed integration – Again, I don’t use this function, but it’s good to know it’s there.  It’s all about convenience when we really need it.
      • The “secret weapon”=Hootlet – according to HootSuite anyway, but I don’t doubt them for a second.  Hootlet is a browser add-on for HootSuite that allows you to tweet out a webpage in a matter of seconds.  I can’t do it justice, but check out their explanation of Hootlet.
      • Replies are shown as threaded conversations, which makes things so much more convenient.
      • Profiles and clickable hashtags are shown within HootSuite without opening up a new column/tab/window.  Love this.  TweetDeck does something similar.
      • Photo and file sharing service using ow.ly.  Why use a 3rd party Twitter service when HootSuite offers it with the stats tracking.  Nice feature.
      • Drag and drop feature to add users to a column.
    • Cons
      • @replies are inefficient, let me explain – There are numerous times when I will receive an @ reply from a user I am not following.  If that happens, I will not see it in HootSuite.
      • Auto-complete feature is nice, but just not enough.  Personally, I would prefer to see a list of followers as opposed to names I have used in the past.
      • There is no way to filter sources unlike TweetDeck. Only TweetDeck offers the ability to filter sources.  Both Seesmic and HootSuite do not have this functionality.  For example, I want to filter out tweets that come from twitterfeeds, no dice.   This is THE main reason why I decided to stick with TweetDeck.  Going through tons of twitterfeeds/API tweets is too much when you have a dozen or 2 keyword searches.
      • Once you close a search/group, you have to recreate it.  Accidents happen and that can be very time consuming and extremely frustrating.  The only Twitter client that makes it difficult to “accidentally” close a search/group is Seesmic.  It takes extra steps in Seesmic to permanently lose a search.
      • No options for automatic URL shortener – For those that don’t know, ow.ly is HootSuite’s URL shortener and as a result, unlike other Twitter clients, there is no option to change it from ow.ly to say bit.ly.  Ow.ly links contain frames, which is extremely annoying.  Next time you click on an ow.ly link, notice 1) the frames and 2) how the link does not redirect to the original link.  There is still the option of manually going to bit.ly (or any other URL shortener service) and shrinking the URL, but it’s very inconvenient.  Whenever I use HootSuite, I always, always go the manual route using bit.ly.
      • Placing users into groups is a pain in the neck.  You have to type in the user name because there’s no list that appears like TweetDeck offers, so you have to manually type in a username and add them.
    • Screenshots:
    • HootSuite Review conclusion – If it wasn’t for the inability to filter sources, i.e. filtering out twitterfeed accounts, then I’d undoubtedly be using HootSuite.  The biggest complaint about not using HootSuite is the iframe usage for ow.ly links; however, you can easily solve that issue by using your own bit.ly links.  You won’t be able to get the more advanced stats that Hootsuite‘s ow.ly provides, but it should be sufficient enough.  Well, sufficient enough where links doesn’t outweight the overwhelming benefit in using HootSuite.

Summary:  Hopefully I’ve enlightened you with some information by providing TweetDeck, Seesmic, and HootSuite reviews.   One of the biggest reasons why I continue to use TweetDeck is because it is the only Twitter client that allows filtering sources.  I’ve had it confirmed by all 3 Twitter clients.  Filtering out “twitterfeed” accounts is a big deal for me.  It’s hard to rank all 3 Twitter clients because it really comes down to personal preference.  For beginners, I’d recommend trying TweetDeck first.  If you try Seesmic or HootSuite first, I think you will hate TweetDeck because of its unfriendly user interface.  By trying out TweetDeck first and then the other two Twitter clients, you’ll make a more accurate judgment.   In a few words to describe each client:

  • TweetDeck Review = popular, bells and whistles, unfriendly user interface
  • Seesmic Desktop Review = left hand navigation menu extremely useful, bare essentials
  • Seesmic Web Review = quirky, needs lots of improvement, avoid
  • HootSuite Review = user friendly, built-in stats, multiple options for usability, restricted options for links
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  • http://twitter.com/CeciliaLu Cecilia Lu

    You've covered the big three names in third-party twitter clients in one of the most concise comparisons I've seen out there. I'll be recommending this to people who aren't sure which one is for them, but don't want to spend hours testing out each one. Great work!

  • http://www.marketingshindig.com Nick Shin

    Thanks Cecilia! If you (or others) have questions about any of the “big 3″, feel free to give me a shout here.

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  • Pingback: Cecilia Lu

  • http://twitter.com/CeciliaLu Cecilia Lu

    You've covered the big three names in third-party twitter clients in one of the most concise comparisons I've seen out there. I'll be recommending this to people who aren't sure which one is for them, but don't want to spend hours testing out each one. Great work!

  • http://www.marketingshindig.com Nick Shin

    Thanks Cecilia! If you (or others) have questions about any of the “big 3″, feel free to give me a shout here.

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  • http://winstart.com/ webbhotell

    Thanks I am just searching for new twitter and Facebook client. Need sound and visual notification so I do not miss things. I am using hootsuite to post…

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  • http://www.marketingshindig.com Nick Shin

    TweetDeck gives the option to turn off the sound, but not the visual notifications. The sound and visual notifications can get quite annoying.

    Nick

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