Foreword: Although this has been a topic with no shortage of blog posts, the following is my opinion based on my needs.
Managing a multitude of social networks, either privately or professionally, becomes cumbersome as you become more active in these networks. Constant streams of information coming from many different sources, some with a poor user interface (ahem Twitter ahem), can be difficult to manage even for the person with a large amount of time on their hands.
Luckily, third-party developers have stepped up to the plate. There are many solutions out there rife with features: scheduled tweets, multiple account management, content syndication, and link shortening to name a few.
There are several exclusively for Facebook, allowing management of many features that marketers take advantage of. I haven’t had time to use any of these, but I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have some.
The “Big Three” clients, as I see it, are Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, and Seesmic. Here’s how I rank them, and why. Generally speaking, I’m ignoring the features that all three boast (i.e. scheduled tweets).
Hootsuite is the clear winner for me, both as a social media marketer and an individual who consumes a lot of information. It is easy to use, easy to view on many machines, and excellent for a team.
- The Good
- Organization is key in Hootsuite. The ability to make many columns within separate tabs makes managing many accounts for many different clients a breeze.
- Team management and task delegation make Hootsuite the best pick for an organization with a social media team.
- Integrated statistics for individual posts, links, and click-thrus within the application.
- Integrated Google Analytics with overlaid tweet frequency make correlating traffic to tweets easier.
- Hootsuite supports Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Facebook Pages, Ping.fm, WordPress, Foursquare, Buzz, and MySpace.
- The Bad
- I hate the link shorteners integrated in Hootsuite. Firstly, both options frame the redirected page. Framing aside, Ow.ly and Ht.ly may be fine, but their clicks can’t be tracked in any network other than Twitter. I prefer to use Bit.ly for its in-depth statistics and ability to track outside of Twitter.
- Because of the link shortening issues, I’ve elected to use bit.ly to shorten links outside of Hootsuite and then paste the link into the post. The problem with this is keeping a team of people on the same page, ensuring that they use the same API key, etc.
- Their iPhone app, though functional, is the only paid app among these three ($2.99).
Tweetdeck would be my pick for the individual who is a bit more casual. It offers many of the same features of HootSuite, though it can get a bit hard to manage with more than 7 or 8 columns.
- The Good
- Easy to organize and navigate. Although Tweetdeck doesn’t have tabs, the columns are easy to flip between and more fit on one screen.
- Bit.ly integration is key for me. It makes tracking link statistics substantially easier.
- If you set up a Tweetdeck account and have the program on more than one computer, each layout can be different. For example, one Tweetdeck layout can be personal accounts and a work computer could be for professional accounts. This could be good or bad, but I find it interesting.
- I have found the alerts/notifications to be the most customizable and the most useful.
- The Bad
- No tabs. With the ability to manage almost as many networks as Hootsuite (less WordPress and Ping), tabs would be helpful. The result in Tweetdeck is an unwieldy amount of columns.
- For professionals, it provides no statistical analysis or team functionality. Each team member would have to have their own setup.
- This may just be me, but I’ve noticed more Twitter API problems with Tweetdeck. I’m not sure who to blame.
I haven’t had quite as much time to experiment with Seesmic, so I’d love to hear your opinions… I think it might be a great solution for individuals. A big downside is the absence of management capabilities for several social networks. Here’s my take.
- The Good
- Seesmic Look – something I’d like to play with. Supposedly, Seesmic look offers additional functionality for users to engage with the Web in real-time while sensing the pulse of many conversations.
- The UI seems to be a fan-favorite for Twitter users. I have heard few complaints about the interface for Seesmic.
- The option to use it on the Web or as a desktop application. Hootsuite is only online (aside from using Joost or Chrome), while Tweetdeck is only a desktop application.
- The Bad
- Seesmic only supports Twitter, Buzz, and Facebook. In a world where there are many more networks, this won’t cut it for many users.
- Again, I’m big on the ability to manage a team. Seesmic lacks this functionality.
- Seesmic does not support multiple Twitter accounts.
So there you have it. As you may have gathered, my favorite is Hootsuite for its professional applications. What do you use, and why?
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