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.
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.