The perfect Twitter client

HootSuite Twitter management app

Neville Hobson has an interesting post on the latest iteration of TweetDeck. Like Neville I was an original TweetDeck fan, in fact we were probably both amongst the first to use it after Ian Dodsworth launched it.

When Twitter acquired TweetDeck and re-launched it I continued to use the original Adobe Air version for a while. However, that could not continue as I do a lot of training PR and corporate communications professionals on how they should integrate social media into their communications strategy and how to use it effectively on day-to-day basis. For the training I just could not justify recommending a tool that did not exist any more.

The problem was – and still is – that there is no alternative. The original TweetDeck remains the best social media management client I’ve used. I’m currently using HootSuite and have also used MetroTwit (which is now the app that Neville now uses), however neither are quite right.

The features I’d want in my ‘perfect’ Twitter program are:

  • Cross platform – I’m PC based, but ideally for my PR training I need an app that Mac users can also use. In business and government (where I do most of my training) Macs are a distinct minority, but one that I’d like to provide for.
  • Multiple network – Not just Twitter, but also Facebook, LinkedIn and eventually Google+ when Google sorts out the API. Other networks such as FourSquare, Tumblr etc are nice, but less important.
  • Multiple accounts – This is the obvious place to put the freemium model to work. Two of each type of account for free and a subscription model to pay for extra accounts.
  • Resizable columns – Column and font size are both very much personal preference and mine is for small and narrow to fit the maximum possible on the screen without needing to scroll.
  • Maximum use of landscape – To see as many columns as possible I prefer control icons to be at the top/bottom of the window.
  • Bity link shortening – I use my sbpr.co vanity URL for link shortening and need to be able to continue using this automatically. With Hootsuite I have to manually shorten links using a Chrome extension rather than relying on the Owly shortening service. A bonus, but not essential would be integrating the Bitly stats into the program.
  • Translation – This was one of the fantastic features of the old TweetDeck. I don’t want to tweet in other languages, but I do follow a lot of people who tweet in their own language and English. A ‘rough and ready’ translation is enough for me to stay connected.
  • Scheduling – Either manually or through integration with a service like Buffer.
  • List management – Seeing how many are on a list, de-duping (making it easier to sort contacts onto different lists) etc.
  • Columns – Options to include tweets I’ve sent, retweets, mentions, favourites, DMs in/out, recent follows, recent unfollows etc
  • Conversation threads – see all the @replies and option to see retweets.
  • Filters – Filtering options on columns like the old TweetDeck.
  • Preview – Quick preview of profiles and links, videos, photos etc.
  • Photo uploading – I’m fairly relaxed about which service, but some people aren’t so probably best to offer options.
  • Reweet and reply options – Settings to choose old style/new style, include hashtags, reply all etc
  • Profiles – Display follower numbers under avatar and potentially ‘influence’ scores (I know all the caveats and my preference would be for Kred and PeerIndex not Klout). Also show if it is a protected and/or verified account. Show if you are following an account and if they are following you and from which of the accounts you’ve got set up. Plus being able to see timeline and @mentions

Quite possible I’ve missed something that I think is essential off this list.

What else do you think is essential?

What client/app/program is the best and which do you think comes closest to providing my list of essential features?

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About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.

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  • http://www.stuartbruce.biz/ Stuart Bruce

    I think you’re right and that’s why I use HootSuite and Social Bro as the only two things really missing are vanity URLs and in-built translation (which ironically now that I don’t have it is becoming increasingly important to me!) Haven’t looked at Sprout Social for a while, what’s in it that makes it different/worth considering?

  • http://blog.escherman.com Andrew Bruce Smith

    One of the main things I like about Sprout Social is it gives you a quick view of exactly who has shared your content plus reach data – Hootsuite simply tells you the message was RT’d. Sprout just seems to present data in a cleaner way – much easier to analyse your followers + getting data out of Sprout Social very simple. Built in RSS reader is MUCH better than HS (in fact, in HS you can only use the RSS reader plug in via unsecure mode – not exactly ideal. Even when you do, it just provides an unfiltered splurge of posts. Don’t get me wrong – I think HS is very good – but inevitably, it can’t do everything – then again, I think they have the right model ie allow third parties to integrate or build plug ins eg MailChimp. Surely someone will build a better RSS plug in for HS sooner or later….

    I guess the ultimate all in one social media client isn’t there yet – still, compared to what we had even a year ago, I’d say things are much better.

  • michellegoodall

    Agree with Andrew. I’m afraid that Tweetdeck no longer cuts it and I’m a Hootsuite convert – Socialbro, Sprout and bitly when required but Hootsuite does pretty much everything and is a great enterprise solution.

    In terms of cross-platform integration, I’d like to see the ability to tag mention Pages/people in Google+ and Facebook in scheduled posts but that is my only grumble about Hootsuite – perhaps you chaps have a workaround…..

    I was such a huge Tweetdeck evangelist for many years – many people that I have trained will testify to my zealotry – I felt extremely proud that it was such a brilliant British product. It’s sad that so many great features have been degraded post Twitter buy-out.

  • http://www.stuartbruce.biz/ Stuart Bruce

    HootSuite is what I recommend and use for enterprise/teams. Agree with you about tagging, but afraid I don’t have a workaround. Like you I converted and trained many people on TweetDeck and the extra bonus was it being British and knowing the founder.

  • http://twitter.com/ConnorMeaks Connor Meakin

    Great post Stuart and great discussion in the comments as well. To be honest, this is great feedback for us at HootSuite. As we continue to strive for providing the ultimate tool for social media management, we have to prioritize our efforts.

    A couple of random notes:
    -Translation is only available for the iOS app (it’s an amazing yet underused feature).
    -Tagging people in posts in both G+ and FB are priorities for us.
    -RSS reader functionality is something on our radar as well.

    What I can say is that some of the ideal features you are discussing are in the works.

    We are always listening and constantly brainstorming tweaks and improvements to our dash.

    Thanks for the honest feedback.

    -Connor and your friends at HootSuite

  • http://www.stuartbruce.biz/ Stuart Bruce

    Thanks Conner for dropping by and commenting. To be honest HootSuite is almost there for me. Translation, Twitter list management and vanity short URLs would do it for me :-) Intrigued to hear that iOS app has translation, but I’ll always Android or Windows Phone.