TweetDeck is a fantastic app, don’t get me wrong. However, HootSuite offers the candy that’s more satisfying to my taste buds. My Twitter apps are what I call “always-on” because they’re one of the few apps I leave running and visible at all times. So, switching apps isn’t something I take lightly.
Fluid & Adobe AIR
Before I get started, I should note that HootSuite is running as a “desktop app” via Fluid on OS X. TweetDeck, on the other hand, runs via Adobe AIR, which is known to be somewhat of a resource hog.
1. System Resource Usage
An important aspect of apps I run at all times is their resource usage. I won’t use any app that uses more resources than I feel is worth the benefits I get from the app. This was a relatively significant factor in my switch from TweetDeck to Hootsuite.
I found that TweetDeck regularly used over 200 MB of RAM and a consistent ~1% of CPU, spiking to 26-35% when refreshing Tweet streams. TweetDeck used ~115 MB of RAM on a fresh startup (what HootSuite used after several days of usage).
Hootsuite, running via Fluid, uses significantly less system resources. I found that running Hootsuite 24/7 used ~115 MB of RAM with a consistent 0.2% of CPU, spiking to 15-25% when refreshing Tweet streams. Hootsuite uses less than 90 MB of RAM on a fresh startup and took several hours to reach 100 MB RAM usage.
Although these are quite small amounts of RAM and CPU usage, it all adds up. I frequently use apps like Photoshop, multiple browsers and Parallels, so saving system resources where possible keeps more available for those more important and resource hungry apps.
If you’re going to use an app frequently, you’ll probably want it to look great, but you’ll definitely need it to be very usable and reliable. While I don’t necessarily have anything against TweetDeck’s interface design, I just like Hootsuite’s better.
In defense of TweetDeck, I didn’t like Hootsuite’s interface design all that much until their recent full redesign. Hootsuite’s recent redesign, however, gave the app a much needed face-lift.
While both apps have a few theme options, Hootsuite’s themes are more to my taste, even though you can customize TweetDeck’s colors. As a designer, I’m much more drawn to Hootsuite’s fresh and sexy design.
3. Column Widths
Aside from general appearance, column width options are a desired, yet generally lacking, feature I sought. TweetDeck’s column width is fixed, whereas Hootsuite’s columns dynamically adjust to fit the browser (or Fluid) window. With a 1680px width screen, I found Hootsuite’s dynamic column width made better use of screen real-estate.
Hootsuite also provides a nifty slider (top right) that you can use to quickly adjust the number of columns in view, which the app will automatically adjust column widths to fit the space available.
4. Drag & Drop with Columns and Tabs
Hootsuite let’s you drag and drop columns and tabs to quickly reorder them however you’d like. Drag and drop functionality is much more intuitive than trying to find a button to accomplish the same thing (as in TweetDeck).
5. Threaded ConversationsIt’s pretty easy to loose track of a Twitter conversation if you run multiple accounts and talk with lots of people about lots of different things. Hootsuite offers threaded conversations, which you can quickly show/hide to make sure you’re on top of it all and you keep everything straight.
If you’re a Twitter power user that prefers apps with column views, it’s likely you use piles of columns. I personally use five columns that are always visible, with several others I routinely check via Hootsuite’s tabs. While the tabbing feature of Hootsuite may seem insignificant, it really helps organize your social network information for more than just Twitter and multiple accounts (Facebook, MySpace, Foursquare, etc).
Again, this is a feature that comes back to keeping information organized so you can stay on top of it all.
7. Scheduling & Saving Tweets
Though TweetDeck now has Tweet scheduling, it wasn’t available for a long time. This was a must-have feature for me when I became Editor of Web.AppStorm. If I was unavailable or traveling, it’s important to publish tweets at the same time (or soon after) posts are published. Sometimes the only way this is accomplished is via Tweet scheduling.
Hootsuite also offers an option to email you once the message is set, a great feature when you’re traveling and want some extra assurance. This is something TweetDeck doesn’t yet offer.
Hootsuite also lets you save drafts for later, which I don’t really use but it may be useful for others. Yet another feature TweetDeck doesn’t offer.
8. Access Anywhere
Though both TweetDeck and Hootsuite offer apps for the iPhone, iPad and desktop (Windows, Mac & Linux), Hootsuite is currently the only one between these two apps that offers web access. Though I don’t use it often, I love the ability to jump on any computer with internet access and immediately access my Twitter client as if I were on my home system. Themes, columns, settings, etc., all available exactly as I left it at home.
The big point here is that it’s immediately accessible. No software to install. This would be great for students and employees who can’t install software on their employer’s work systems.
9. Google Analytics & Stats Tracking
If you use your social networks for more than just fun, you’ll likely want to track traffic stats. Hootsuite offers Google Analytics integration so you can easily view your site stats as well as stats for shortened links using Ow.ly and Ht.ly, directly within the app.
10. Team Collaboration
Organizations with teams of people working together can take advantage of Hootsuite’s team collaboration features, even allowing assignments. Though most average users won’t need this capability, it’s nice knowing I’m using a platform with these capabilities should they ever be necessary. For teams, this would be invaluable.
Both TweetDeck and Hootsuite are fantastic apps for enjoying and managing your social networks, specifically Twitter. At first I wasn’t too keen on switching to Hootsuite but after I gave it some time to give it an honest chance, it quickly won me over (especially with it’s latest redesign and new features).
Both apps offer a list of features a mile long and which app fits you better will just depend on what you want and need. However, I think Hootsuite will likely better fit a larger number of people due to its flexibility and extra capabilities.
If you have any questions about Hootsuite, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you asap. I’d also love to hear your thoughts and experiences of these apps. Thanks!