HootSuite Twitter Client Has Potential

If you’re still Tweeting by visiting Twitter.com, you’re missing the ease and convenience of feature-rich desktop Twitter clients like Tweetdeck, Seesmic Desktop and Twhirl.

I’ve bounced between those three for nearly a year, but decided to give browser-based HootSuite a try. There’s plenty to love, plenty to hate, and plenty of potential.

What I Love About HootSuite

Tabs. Tweetdeck’s biggest flaw, in my view, is a narrow interface that forces you to scroll horizontally to find columns that can’t fit on a standard screen. HootSuite uses columns and tabs, allowing for a cleaner, more organized presentation.

Multiple Twitter Accounts. Other Twitter clients allow multiple Twitter accounts, but I like the simplicity of HootSuite. HootSuite displays avatars for each account, and forces you to click the account to Tweet from before your Tweet is sent, which reduces the risk of an inadvertent misTweet.

Things I Hate About HootSuite

Browser-Based. I’ve always hated browser-based Twitter apps. It forces me to keep a browser open all day, whereas desktop apps typically minimize to the tray and streamline my screen. There’s also the risk that I’ll visit another page from that browser, and…bye-bye Tweets.

Dashboard Layout. The tabs/columns area of the dashboard is fine, but the text-entry field butts up against the top edge of the browser. My eye is accustomed to seeing a buffer or margin.

No Audio/Visual Alerts. HootSuite’s settings tab lists “Enable audio/visual notification when I receive new Tweets” as an option. I have it turned on. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not getting audio alerts. And the visual alerts only appear to display if I’m actually looking at the browser…seems kinda unnecessary at that point, no? I’d prefer a pop-up alert a la Tweetdeck, FriendFeed Notifier or Twhirl.

No Facebook Integration. Tweetdeck (and I believe Seesmic Desktop) integrates with Facebook. Granted, it’s a one-way Facebook –> Tweetdeck integration (are FB/Twitter addressing this?), but it’s a nice feature. HootSuite doesn’t let you pull in Facebook status updates. They should.

HootSuite Areas of Opportunity

Stats. HootSuite has built-in link stats. It’s a nice feature, but I’d like to see deeper analysis. How often was a Tweet ReTweeted? Who ReTweets my stuff the most frequently? What exactly is a “Direct Click,” and how are my Tweets being clicked on Facebook.com?

For more on HootSuite stats, check out Valeria Maltoni’s post.

Workflow Management. HootSuite allows you to add multiple users to a HootSuite account. I haven’t done this yet, but presumably this would allow teams to manage Twitter accounts by sharing the workload. If HootSuite adds workflow management similar to what social monitoring platform Radian6 has done, they’ll gain market share in the business sector.

Closing Thoughts

HootSuite has a few other features, but these are my highlights. If you’re cool with a web-based browser, I think it offers some advantages over Tweetdeck. It’s got shortcomings — all of the Twitter clients do, at this point — but HootSuite has potential.

  • http://twitter.com/DaniBurns27 Dani Burns

    Thanks for the analysis, Scott! Hope the folks over at hootsuite are listening and take some of your suggestions into account. They have a solid product.

    Have you ever used PeopleBrowsr? I’ve been working with it for a few weeks (a great suggestion from @brandonuttley). Complex and robust, it’s one of the best Twitter clients I’ve encountered. (Granted, I’m still fiercely loyal to Tweetie for Mac for it’s keyboard shortcuts and slick UI, despite it’s limitations).

    PeopleBrowsr has a higher learning curve than some apps, but allows for integration with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Bit.Ly, and plenty of other networks/services.

    Likes:
    • Add columns for RSS feeds.
    • Run reports for recent followers and RTs.
    • Reply to updates directly in stream for any account.
    • Public, private, and viral group options.
    • Conference stream for tracking brand mentions or #hashtags.
    • Schedule tweets to pace your updates. (Can also auto resend, though I find that feature a little spammy).

    Dislikes:
    • Auto-scrolling stream, which can be somewhat annoying when you’re trying to “catch” a conversation.
    • Design – UI isn’t as clean as I’d like and the icon for the desktop app (powered by Adobe Air) was born out of a black hole in the graphic design universe, but the apps functionality makes up for it.

    It’s definitely worth checking out. Would love to hear your thoughts! http://www.peoplebrowsr.com

    Video Tutorials
    Lite: http://vimeo.com/4739210
    Advanced: http://vimeo.com/4760133
    Business: http://vimeo.com/4841309

  • http://twitter.com/DaniBurns27 Dani Burns

    Thanks for the analysis, Scott! Hope the folks over at hootsuite are listening and take some of your suggestions into account. They have a solid product.

    Have you ever used PeopleBrowsr? I’ve been working with it for a few weeks (a great suggestion from @brandonuttley). Complex and robust, it’s one of the best Twitter clients I’ve encountered. (Granted, I’m still fiercely loyal to Tweetie for Mac for it’s keyboard shortcuts and slick UI, despite it’s limitations).

    PeopleBrowsr has a higher learning curve than some apps, but allows for integration with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Bit.Ly, and plenty of other networks/services.

    Likes:
    • Add columns for RSS feeds.
    • Run reports for recent followers and RTs.
    • Reply to updates directly in stream for any account.
    • Public, private, and viral group options.
    • Conference stream for tracking brand mentions or #hashtags.
    • Schedule tweets to pace your updates. (Can also auto resend, though I find that feature a little spammy).

    Dislikes:
    • Auto-scrolling stream, which can be somewhat annoying when you’re trying to “catch” a conversation.
    • Design – UI isn’t as clean as I’d like and the icon for the desktop app (powered by Adobe Air) was born out of a black hole in the graphic design universe, but the apps functionality makes up for it.

    It’s definitely worth checking out. Would love to hear your thoughts! http://www.peoplebrowsr.com

    Video Tutorials
    Lite: http://vimeo.com/4739210
    Advanced: http://vimeo.com/4760133
    Business: http://vimeo.com/4841309

  • atomicpoet

    Actually, HootSuite integrates with ping.fm, which also allows you to update your Facebook status — amongst other social networks.

  • http://twitter.com/DaniBurns27 Dani Burns

    Thanks for the analysis, Scott! Hope the folks over at hootsuite are listening and take some of your suggestions into account. They have a solid product.

    Have you ever used PeopleBrowsr? I’ve been working with it for a few weeks (a great suggestion from @brandonuttley). Complex and robust, it’s one of the best Twitter clients I’ve encountered. (Granted, I’m still fiercely loyal to Tweetie for Mac for it’s keyboard shortcuts and slick UI, despite it’s limitations).

    PeopleBrowsr has a higher learning curve than some apps, but allows for integration with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Bit.Ly, and plenty of other networks/services.

    Likes:
    • Add columns for RSS feeds.
    • Run reports for recent followers and RTs.
    • Reply to updates directly in stream for any account.
    • Public, private, and viral group options.
    • Conference stream for tracking brand mentions or #hashtags.
    • Schedule tweets to pace your updates. (Can also auto resend, though I find that feature a little spammy).

    Dislikes:
    • Auto-scrolling stream, which can be somewhat annoying when you’re trying to “catch” a conversation.
    • Design – UI isn’t as clean as I’d like and the icon for the desktop app (powered by Adobe Air) was born out of a black hole in the graphic design universe, but the apps functionality makes up for it.

    It’s definitely worth checking out. Would love to hear your thoughts! http://www.peoplebrowsr.com

    Video Tutorials
    Lite: http://vimeo.com/4739210
    Advanced: http://vimeo.com/4760133
    Business: http://vimeo.com/4841309

  • Kate_HootSuite

    Hey Scott – great post! Thanks for sharing your feedback – we really appreciate it.

    Couple of things for ya. You are able to use HootSuite as a desktop app with programs such as Prism and Fluid. The text entry field can be minimized (tiny grey arrow at the bottom of the box) for more screen realestate – good for small monitors. Which of your accounts are having the audio notification issues? We can look into that. And finally, as @atomicpoet said, you are able to post your updates to Facebook using HootSuite's Ping.fm integration. Thanks again, if you can any questions please let me know.

    Best,
    Kate

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Thanks for the feedback, Dani. I haven't played with PeopleBrowsr lately — I poked around with it when it came out, but I hated browser-based Twitter clients back then, too, so never gave it much attention.

    Maybe if the Prism and Fluid.app options outlined by atomicpoet work, I can try them with PeopleBrowsr, too. I dunno…am I just being a desktop addict?

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Thanks for stopping by, Kate. Great to see you guys paying attention to what's said about you online!

    I'll have to give Fluid and Prism a try (thanks @atomicpoet!). The audio alerts haven't worked on any of my accounts (to my knowledge) — unless I'm missing something.

    The text entry field concern is more with the top margin, and is really more about getting used to it. I guess the simplest way of saying it is that I'm not accustomed to seeing a data entry far so far “up and to the left.” My eye expects that area to be useless header info and for key content to be about 1/3 of the way down the screen.

    All in all, HootSuite is a nice option. I'll definitely give it a fair shake as my client of choice.

  • http://twitter.com/DaniBurns27 Dani Burns

    Thanks for the analysis, Scott! Hope the folks over at hootsuite are listening and take some of your suggestions into account. They have a solid product.

    Have you ever used PeopleBrowsr? I’ve been working with it for a few weeks (a great suggestion from @brandonuttley). Complex and robust, it’s one of the best Twitter clients I’ve encountered. (Granted, I’m still fiercely loyal to Tweetie for Mac for it’s keyboard shortcuts and slick UI, despite it’s limitations).

    PeopleBrowsr has a higher learning curve than some apps, but allows for integration with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Bit.Ly, and plenty of other networks/services.

    Likes:
    • Add columns for RSS feeds.
    • Run reports for recent followers and RTs.
    • Reply to updates directly in stream for any account.
    • Public, private, and viral group options.
    • Conference stream for tracking brand mentions or #hashtags.
    • Schedule tweets to pace your updates. (Can also auto resend, though I find that feature a little spammy).

    Dislikes:
    • Auto-scrolling stream, which can be somewhat annoying when you’re trying to “catch” a conversation.
    • Design – UI isn’t as clean as I’d like and the icon for the desktop app (powered by Adobe Air) was born out of a black hole in the graphic design universe, but the apps functionality makes up for it.

    It’s definitely worth checking out. Would love to hear your thoughts! http://www.peoplebrowsr.com

    Video Tutorials
    Lite: http://vimeo.com/4739210
    Advanced: http://vimeo.com/4760133
    Business: http://vimeo.com/4841309

  • atomicpoet

    Actually, HootSuite integrates with ping.fm, which also allows you to update your Facebook status — amongst other social networks. As far as web-based is concerned, you can turn HootSuite into a desktop app through Prism and Fluid.app integration.

  • Kate_HootSuite

    Hey Scott – great post! Thanks for sharing your feedback – we really appreciate it.

    Couple of things for ya. You are able to use HootSuite as a desktop app with programs such as Prism and Fluid. The text entry field can be minimized (tiny grey arrow at the bottom of the box) for more screen realestate – good for small monitors. Which of your accounts are having the audio notification issues? We can look into that. And finally, as @atomicpoet said, you are able to post your updates to Facebook using HootSuite's Ping.fm integration. Thanks again, if you can any questions please let me know.

    Best,
    Kate

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Thanks for the feedback, Dani. I haven't played with PeopleBrowsr lately — I poked around with it when it came out, but I hated browser-based Twitter clients back then, too, so never gave it much attention.

    Maybe if the Prism and Fluid.app options outlined by atomicpoet work, I can try them with PeopleBrowsr, too. I dunno…am I just being a desktop addict?

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Thanks for stopping by, Kate. Great to see you guys paying attention to what's said about you online!

    I'll have to give Fluid and Prism a try (thanks @atomicpoet!). The audio alerts haven't worked on any of my accounts (to my knowledge) — unless I'm missing something.

    The text entry field concern is more with the top margin, and is really more about getting used to it. I guess the simplest way of saying it is that I'm not accustomed to seeing a data entry far so far “up and to the left.” My eye expects that area to be useless header info and for key content to be about 1/3 of the way down the screen.

    All in all, HootSuite is a nice option. I'll definitely give it a fair shake as my client of choice.

  • bradybone

    Just ran across your review after I just tweeted this:

    “After a day with @hootsuite I can't use it. You can't follow conversations. This is at the heart of twitter. Back to @tweetie for mac.”

    Hootsuite says on GetSatisfaction that it's due to the search.twitter.com API not including the tweet_id (which used to be in search but is no longer – which in itself is odd).

    Tweetie Mac, on the other hand, does provide conversation threading even on search results.

    So add this to the list of why you don't like browser-based twitter clients because I'm not sure any of them can provide one of the most important features of twitter – conversation threading.

    - Bone

  • http://www.jeffreyjdavis.com JeffreyJDavis

    I've been a Hootsuite user for 6 months or so and have grown to like it a lot. I'm also a diehard Tweetdeck user. I use Hootsuite for posting, and Tweetdeck for reading. The Hootlet bookmarklet is pretty effortless for scheduling tweets.

    My only complaint really about Hootsuite is that it doesn't yet (as far as I know) distribute tweets over a time frame as it competitor Tweetlater does. I wish it had that functionality.

    Additionally, they just rolled out a UI revamp last week that in my mind, clutters up the screen terribly. Too much vertical real estate consumed by tabs, footers, etc which cannot be minimized. Their UX team should try using it on a laptop or netbook screen.

    All in all, I think Hootsuite is a great posting tool and urge you to consider it if you have not already.

  • http://www.1060creative.com/ Anthony

    Thanks, Scott. Nice review. I'll check it out. FYI: Seesmic allows 2-way Facebook communication; i.e., you can comment on your friends' status updates. This may be old news, but I just returned to Seesmic (from Tweetdeck) and updated from ver. 0.2.1 to 0.5.

    –Ant.
    @Raindawg on Twitter

  • bradybone

    Just ran across your review after I just tweeted this:

    “After a day with @hootsuite I can't use it. You can't follow conversations. This is at the heart of twitter. Back to @tweetie for mac.”

    Hootsuite says on GetSatisfaction that it's due to the search.twitter.com API not including the tweet_id (which used to be in search but is no longer – which in itself is odd).

    Tweetie Mac, on the other hand, does provide conversation threading even on search results.

    So add this to the list of why you don't like browser-based twitter clients because I'm not sure any of them can provide one of the most important features of twitter – conversation threading.

    - Bone

  • bradybone

    Just ran across your review after I just tweeted this:

    “After a day with @hootsuite I can't use it. You can't follow conversations. This is at the heart of twitter. Back to @tweetie for mac.”

    Hootsuite says on GetSatisfaction that it's due to the search.twitter.com API not including the tweet_id (which used to be in search but is no longer – which in itself is odd).

    Tweetie Mac, on the other hand, does provide conversation threading even on search results.

    So add this to the list of why you don't like browser-based twitter clients because I'm not sure any of them can provide one of the most important features of twitter – conversation threading.

    - Bone

  • http://www.jeffreyjdavis.com JeffreyJDavis

    I've been a Hootsuite user for 6 months or so and have grown to like it a lot. I'm also a diehard Tweetdeck user. I use Hootsuite for posting, and Tweetdeck for reading. The Hootlet bookmarklet is pretty effortless for scheduling tweets.

    My only complaint really about Hootsuite is that it doesn't yet (as far as I know) distribute tweets over a time frame as it competitor Tweetlater does. I wish it had that functionality.

    Additionally, they just rolled out a UI revamp last week that in my mind, clutters up the screen terribly. Too much vertical real estate consumed by tabs, footers, etc which cannot be minimized. Their UX team should try using it on a laptop or netbook screen.

    All in all, I think Hootsuite is a great posting tool and urge you to consider it if you have not already.

  • http://www.jeffreyjdavis.com JeffreyJDavis

    I've been a Hootsuite user for 6 months or so and have grown to like it a lot. I'm also a diehard Tweetdeck user. I use Hootsuite for posting, and Tweetdeck for reading. The Hootlet bookmarklet is pretty effortless for scheduling tweets.

    My only complaint really about Hootsuite is that it doesn't yet (as far as I know) distribute tweets over a time frame as it competitor Tweetlater does. I wish it had that functionality.

    Additionally, they just rolled out a UI revamp last week that in my mind, clutters up the screen terribly. Too much vertical real estate consumed by tabs, footers, etc which cannot be minimized. Their UX team should try using it on a laptop or netbook screen.

    All in all, I think Hootsuite is a great posting tool and urge you to consider it if you have not already.

  • http://www.1060creative.com/ Anthony

    Thanks, Scott. Nice review. I'll check it out. FYI: Seesmic allows 2-way Facebook communication; i.e., you can comment on your friends' status updates. This may be old news, but I just returned to Seesmic (from Tweetdeck) and updated from ver. 0.2.1 to 0.5.

    –Ant.
    @Raindawg on Twitter

  • http://www.1060creative.com/ Anthony

    Thanks, Scott. Nice review. I'll check it out. FYI: Seesmic allows 2-way Facebook communication; i.e., you can comment on your friends' status updates. This may be old news, but I just returned to Seesmic (from Tweetdeck) and updated from ver. 0.2.1 to 0.5.

    –Ant.
    @Raindawg on Twitter