Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting frustrated with the various Twitter clients that use Adobe Air. These include Seesmic, Tweetdeck and Mixero.
All have a lot of really nice features, but I’m finding that they just want too big a share of my system resources and when I want to close them I have to often go into into Windows Task Manager to get them to go away. Clearly an alternative approach would be well worth testing.
I tried the Seesmic browser based solution for a while, but I never fell in love with it. I then tried out HootSuite.
The HootSuite team promote their solution as a professional Twitter tool and I must say it has a lot of features that I really like.
Just like the desktop applications, HootSuite lets me set up columns for what I want to keep track of. I’m not sure what the limit is, but it seems I can set up plenty. HootSuite allows me to save any search as a column and also organize sets of columns into tabs – very nice. It also allows groups of users to be set up, although I haven’t used this feature yet.
Clicking on a user’s link brings up a nice little profile window. From here I can send a message to the person, follow or unfollow them and click on links to their website. As you can see from Henie’s profile, there is some useful information and if I wanted to I could click over to her Twitter profile page or check out more of her recent Tweets – nice!
As you would expect from a modern Twitter client, HootSuite handles multiple accounts and also multiple users for the different accounts – this makes it a good tool for corporate Twitter accounts where more than one person might be Tweeting.
A feature I really like is the ability to set the time when Tweets are sent.
This is really useful for me when I’m updating our @LabelingNews account. I like to spend 30 minutes or so first thing in the morning finding interesting stories related to labeling, barcoding, RFID or data collection that I can link to in Tweets. Before I used HootSuite I had to send the Tweets during that 30 minutes period, before most people in my industry are even at work. With HootSuite I can time the Tweets to be sent at different times of the day – much better. I’m also helped by the fact that HootSuite is the first Twitter client (including the Twitter site itself) that isn’t blocked by our I-Prism Internet annoyance appliance.
Yet another aspect of HootSuite I’m enjoying is being able to embed a HootSuite column into other sites. For example, my Twitter feed on the homepage of this site is a HootSuite column where I searched on my username @-djh.
I set up an additional HootSuite embedded column on the Labeling News site. I love the way I can use some of these ideas to bring content from my various on-line locations together.
A feature that is important to Twitter users is URL shortening. No-one wants to use too many of their precious 140 characters posting long links so there are a lot of shorteners around. The HootsSuite guys have their own: ol.ly which does it pretty good job and also provides some decent statistics. The thing I don’t like about it is that ow.ly links open in a HootSuite branded frame rather than going straight to the url.
Since I personally prefer bit.ly (and the new even shorter j.mp) I tend not to use the HootSuite links.
Other features I don’t use are the ability to upload files and photos. I prefer to use Posterous for this job, but I’m sure the HootSuite alternative works well for those that want to use it.
So, as you can see there are a ton of great features in HootSuite. I had played with ver1 a while ago without really liking it, but ver2 does just about everything I need for a Twitter tool.
It would be great if it would support Facebook like the desktop apps and I’d love to see HootSuite support bit.ly or j.mp – since they developed their own system, I can’t see this happening though.
Do you use HootSuite or have you tried it out? What is your favorite way to communicate via Twitter?