As the popularity of Twitter has soared over the past two years, so has the number of Twitter clients. It can be slightly intimidating for a new Twitter user to choose the right client as they can have different strengths and weaknesses.
Today I want to take a in-depth look at one of the more popular apps out there — TweetDeck.
Since TweetDeck is built on Adobe AIR, it’s available for both Windows and Mac users. This has no doubt aided its popularity, along with the way developer Iain Dodsworth added the grouping functionality.
There has been some debate on exactly how grouping should be implemented on Twitter, but there is no doubt that Twitter users want it. And the number of TweetDeck users proves it.
Everything and the Kitchen Sink
Multiple accounts – check. Grouping – check. Search – check. To be sure, TweetDeck is a full featured Twitter client. In fact, it can be a bit overwhelming when it first loads.
But after taking a few minutes to poke around and you’ll start to recognize the positive aspects of this app.
Using More than One Account
If you man your team’s twitter account, than TweetDeck may be a help to you. The layout of the application makes it easier to follow the stream of multiple accounts at the same time than other clients.
You can have the application display a column for the full stream, mentions or direct message for any account you’ve added. Reading the latest updates for each account without having to mouse click in various locations can save you some time.
In addition, TweetDeck gives you the ability to post from multiple accounts at once.
The Tweet Window — the portion of the application where you post your message, replies and tweets — is nicely laid out. It gives you the ability to highlight the account of choice, as shown here.
Want to use more than one account? Just click on the various accounts you want to use. The selected accounts are highlighted and when hovered over, display a status of Yes or No, indicating whether an account is chosen to post the tweet.
Filter Out the Noise
Do you follow more than 100 people? If yes, then go and download TweetDeck right now. Once you get up into large number of follows, it can be hard to keep up. Maybe you don’t even try. Even so, it can still be difficult to separate the signal from the noise when your stream is so active.
And even those who follow a high number admit that much of their value comes from only a few. That’s where groups can help. In TweetDeck, simply click the Group button and you can narrow down your list. Simply pick which account you want your group for and then hand pick the desired people to focus on.
This feature alone has made TweetDeck’s popularity what it is.
This applications comes with a few interesting integrations as well. You have the option to follow Twitscoop or Stocktwits. As well, you can use the 12seconds web service, which allows you to post short videos to your Twitter account. You can also update your Facebook status from within the app.
What’s in a Column?
Another great aspect I enjoy from this application is the options for each column. Want to drill down further in a specific group or account? Use the Filter option. Or want to see what a particular group is talking about today? Click on the Popular button.
TweetDeck also offers a unique feature — the ability to clear your streams. Each column loads its tweets and every new tweet is marked with a circle to indicate it has not been read. You have three options at the bottom of the column related to this status: you can mark each status as ‘seen’, clear all seen tweets or clear the entire column. A good option if you want to clear the deck (sorry, had to do it) of tweets you’ve already read.
Lastly, when you need to buckle down and get some work done, you can reduce the app to one column only.
What I Like
I mentioned this above — one of the handiest features of this app is the ability to post from multiple accounts at once. Let’s face it, your personal stream and your company’s stream may at times have some crossover. It’s handy to post the same message just once rather than two or three times.
Overall, the inclusion of multiple accounts is well implemented. The ability to break your followers into smaller groups is also a great idea, especially for companies and corporations.
What I Don’t
I do have a few minor annoyances with the app. They are minor, but enough of these combined can take away from the overall enjoyment.
For one, in order to take full advantage of this client, you’ll need a large screen. Really large. Even with the Narrow Columns preference checked, it’s easy to take up the entire screen. In my usage, I included 4 of the 6 Twitter accounts that I’m associated with and had a total of 9 columns. Even on my 23″ screen, I could not see all the columns at once.
And since AIR apps do not support horizontal scrolling, this action of manually moving the horizontal scrollbar was a bit of a frustration.
Lastly, performance was also a bit of an issue. Memory utilized by the app is very high, even when idle. TweetDeck was consistently using the highest amount of RAM, even more than Safari.
Overall, this application is a great tool, but for specific functions. It will not replace Tweetie in my daily personal usage, but I will definitely be putting it to use when doing support monitoring activity on a few accounts.
TweetDeck will not be for everyone — it’s important to get that out of the way from the beginning. But if you follow large groups of people, the grouping alone may enhance your enjoyment of the Twitter service.
And when it comes to supporting your product or using more than one account, this could very well be the tool for you.