Over the past several weeks I have made it my personal mission to test out many of the most popular 3rd party Twitter clients to see which one provides the most value and best features. Of the software tried, only two stood out as worth discussing. TweetDeck and Hootsuite are by far the two most popular Twitter clients and are used by thousands of people daily. Both of these clients offer great features, but in order to find out which client would be the best choice for your needs, there of course has to be a winner in the Battle of the Twitter Clients.
TweetDeck VS. HootSuite: Let the battle begin!
Cost of Use
The first, and most important issue to this battle was cost. While Twitter is an extremely effective marketing tool, having to pay to get a quality client can be an issue for many users that are just starting out with Twitter. TweetDeck is 100% free to use, where as HootSuite offers both a free version and a pro version for $9.99 per month but they offer a free 30 day trial to give you an idea of the difference between the free and paid versions. Both free versions offer almost identical benefits, whereas with HootSuite Pro the cost per month provides you with significantly more useful features than both free versions including bulk scheduling, Google analytics, Facebook Insights integration as well as unlimited RSS feeds.
Both of these clients offer very sleek, but rather similar user interfaces. The differences become much more apparent when you look at the platforms. The TweetDeck interface seems to be a bit cleaner and appealing to the eye, while the HootSuite interface is a bit bulky and cumbersome for the first time user and takes a bit of figuring out. However, once you have figured out the HootSuite layout you may find that it is extremely easy to use.
- Downloadable desktop version available for PC, MAC, Smartphones and Tablets
- Column based interface, all profiles are viewed in one screen
- Browser based interface; downloadable version available for Mac, Smartphones and Tablets
- Browser integrations available for Google Chrome and Firefox
- Social media profiles are viewed in tabs, rather than all in one window.
Initially the interface of Hootsuite was a bit overwhelming, but after having used it for a weeks time, the tabbed interface did prove itself somewhat useful. While the tabbed interface of HootSuite was useful for organizing profiles, I found that I paid more attention to the Twitter tab, as the remaining Facebook and LinkedIn tab went hidden until I took the time to click and view them. The value of TweetDeck is that is presents everything to you in one window, forcing you to view everything that is going on rather than organizing by individual profile. The value of HootSuite’s tabbed interface is more suitable to an internet marketing specialist who is managing multiple accounts that would need them to be seperated for organizational purposes.
User Interface Winner: TweetDeck. For personal use, TweetDecks all in one interface proved much more user friendly than HootSuite. However, when being used for numerous accounts, the HootSuite interface proved to be much more intuitive for use by social media and internet marketing experts needing to manage multiple profiles from one program.
Scheduling Updates in Advance
This was by far the most important aspect of my reasoning for seeking a third party client. The need to schedule future posts and updates was required for me, as I cannot spend all day in front of Facebook and Twitter making posts and would rather spend that time interacting with other users.
Both TweetDeck and HootSuite (free version) all you to schedule posts in advance, with pretty much the same interface for doing so. The game changer came into play with HootSuite Pro and the ability to bulk schedule updates using an imported CSV file (comma seperated values). After taking some time to figure out the bulk import option, I found it to be nearly priceless for use in marketing, and the added value of being able to integrate an RSS feed to automatically post made this feature even more valuable. The only downfall that I came across with bulk scheduling is that the CSV requirements for HootSuite were very poorly designed. The format that they make you use is extremely time consuming, and at first makes it almost not worth using as setting up the file in Excel becomes extremely time consuming. While the bulk scheduler allows you to import 50 updates at once, the format makes it take nearly as much time as scheduling one by one until you figure it out. Once I realized I could set up 50 posts at once, and use the Ctrl+F/Replace function in Excel, it became much easier. While this feature does take some time to get used to, I am hoping that the HootSuite developers will enhance this feature to include a non-european date format, as well as an increased number of usable columns when creating in Excel.
Scheduling Updates in Advance Winner: Tied between TweetDeck and HootSuite Free. Both clients function almost identically in this aspect, the game changer her is the bulk scheduling option that is available with the paid version of HootSuite.
Speed and System Requirements
The clear winner in this category was HootSuite (depending on your internet connection). While HootSuite is browser based, it’s speed is very quick and requires almost no system resources to use. TweetDeck on the other hand is powered by Adobe AIR which can be a bit of a drain on system resources. The mobile versions of HootSuite also functioned very smoothly and without hiccup proving quickly that they were the winner in this category.
Updating Multiple Social Networks
Both of these applications allow you to update your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles regardless of whether or not you are using the free or paid version. However, HootSuite’s features allow you to update your Facebook Business and Brand Pages (yes, this is different than your Facebook profile), Foursquare, Myspace (I know, don’t ask), WordPress.com and Ping.fm accounts. While neither client includes everything, so long as you’re not trying to update your Xanga page, you should be able to update it on one of the two clients.
Multiple Social Networks: The winner here is HootSuite. This again comes into play for social media managers and internet marketers who need to manage multiple profiles. For personal use, either client will suffice, but HootSuite offers quite a few more options as far as social networks go, and when you include the ability to add more than one of an account, HootSuite comes out as the winner.
Multiple Accounts and Users
Both TweetDeck and HootSuite will allow you to add multiple social media accounts to the client so you can manage everything at once. As mentioned before, TweetDeck combines all of your accounts into one window whereas HootSuite provides a tabbed interface with a tab for each account you add. The special feature you will find with HootSuite is that you can add multiple users because of it’s browser based interface, allowing you to create posts from multiple users and even allowing them to add a signature to each of their specific posts. Since TweetDeck is not browser based, this isn’t an available option.
Multiple Accounts: While I was tempted to leave this as a tie, I found that HootSuite was the winner because of the additional features available. Once again, for personal use, either client will suffice, but for someone managing multiple accounts will find HootSuite to be much more useful.
In the end, HootSuite has come out as the clear winner. While some of the options are paid, it provides almost unlimited options for only around $6 a month. While most people aren’t willing to pay a monthly fee to enhance an already free service, for those who intend to make a marketing outlet out of Twitter and their other social media accounts, the ability to bulk schedule becomes a huge benefit and time saver. Personally, anything that saves me more than 15 minutes is worth paying a monthly fee for. If you’re interested, why not give Hootsuite a test run and get a free 30 day trial. You won’t end up disappointed, I can’t say I was.