Tweetdeck is touted as the go-to Twitter desktop application, and now with an apparently fantastic iPhone app to match, it will probably become even more widespread.
That said, I only use TweetDeck on my backup computer. Day to day I use Seesmic, and keep TweetDeck on backup so that I keep on top of any updates to the program as they are released.
Here is my point for point breakdown of these two solutions, as a (higher ed) marketer:
What they both offer …
Both offer a nice little text area where you can type your proposed tweet and then submit. Both offer character count downs, both have a visual cue for when the tweet has gone past the available 140 characters.
Both have columns for Friends’ Timeline, Replies and Direct Messages.
Both allow one-click re-tweeting directly from the timeline.
Both support short URL services (i.e. bit.ly) and photo services (i.e. twitpic).
Both let you add your Facebook account & view your Facebook friends’ updates within the dashboard.
Look & Feel
Both applications look great. My personal preference runs to Seesmic’s aesthetic, however TweetDeck actually gives you the option of customizing your interface colours to taste – which is nice.
Verdict: TweetDeck (more flexible)
Both offer one-click follow/unfollow options straight from the avatar of another user. Seesmic seems to connect the new follow to whatever account found it. For example, if a mention from @username gets pulled into the dashboard by account1 (i.e. @username tweeted something that included @account2) and I click to follow this user who apparently talks about me, Seesmic adds @username as a followee of @account1. If I have more than one account, I may want to follow @username from more than one of my accounts – or I may want to follow it from @account2 because I tend to use @account2 more often. Another example would be if i have @corporateaccount and @anonymousaccount, there are certain people that I would probably prefer to follow from @anonymous account versus the official corporate one.
Tweetdeck, on the other hand, pops up a lightbox asking which account(s) youwould like to follow from. (Yes, I said account(s)! You can follow from multiple accounts in the same number of steps it would take to follow from just one account – no do overs).
Interacting with Other Users
Anytime you type “@” or “d “, Tweetdeck pops up a lightbox user list for you to select from. For example, if I want to reply to a tweet that I have just read, all I have to do is click reply (on both Tweetdeck and Seesmic). If I want to direct a tweet to someone off the top of my head, Tweetdeck gives me a list of users to pick from whereas Seesmic requires me to remember character for character what their username is. And the Tweetdeck user list filters down if you begin to type characters of the person’s username – similar to Facebook’s search boxes.
Managing Your Community
Both Tweetdeck and Seesmic let you lump the people you follow into groups, so you can choose to just view local friend tweets, colleague tweets or tweets by those who share your fanatic love of knitting.
Creating a group in Tweetdeck:
Click to create, type name, check off the users you would like to include from a check list of all users you follow.
Creating a group in Seesmic:
Click to create, type the name, and then one by one you go through your Friends’ timeline and click their menu/options and then Add to Userlist, then select the desired userlist from a dropdown list. If you want to add them to more than one userlist, you have to repeat the process.
Managing a group on Tweetdeck:
Can’t remember if @summerbff is in a particular list? Open that group and scroll through the list of every user you follow (alphabetically) and see if there is a checkmark beside @summerbff.
Is it getting close to June and time to add @summerbff back into your favourite group? Open that group, scroll through the list of every user you follow (alphabetically) and check the box beside @summerbff. If you have more than one person that you want to add to a user group, it is easy to scroll through the list and add checks beside multiple users.
Managing a group on Seesmic:
Can’t remember if @summerbff is in a particular list? Select that list from your handy side column and then click the edit icon to see who is included in the group. You can also change the group name from this screen. There is also a nice little delete icon beside each user in the group, to enable one click exile if anyone has gotten filed in the wrong group (or has crossed a line such as accusing you of liking @summerbff more than @winterbff and is now in your bad book).
Time to add @summerbff to a group in Seesmic? Click the menu for that user, select Add to Userlist, and then pick the userlist from the drop down menu. If you have more than one person you want to add to a user group, you need to repeat the entire process.
Verdict: Seesmic (I like adding people in a single click, versus scrolling through giant lists every time, I also like being able to delete multiple users from the group edit screen, and being able to change the group name).
Both are equally limited in that neither allows you to add multiple Facebook accounts, and neither allows you to add Facebook Pages.
Both pull in your Facebook friends’ status updates.
Seesmic lets you “like”, “comment” and add to your seesmic user groups.
Tweetdeck lets you either retweet or email (through your default email client) a friend’s status. It also shows you whether the user is online and allows you to activate a Facebook chat with the person in a new window – neat!
Neither pulls over your Facebook friend groups.
Verdict: Seesmic (because who wants to email a Facebook status to someone?)
Seesmic won me over with constant upgrades. The application isn’t perfect, but fixes and new features get added almost weekly. Plus, Seesmic emails me when new upgrades are ready and makes me feel special as part of their supporters team. Plus, when I tweet about Seesmic (pros or cons), one of their many corporate accounts usually replies to me within the day and offers help. Plus, their communications constantly reference user requested features or user reported bugs, which reinforces the impression that they are truly developing according to the community’s needs.
Tweetdeck doesn’t so much update. Correct me if I am wrong, but since January 2009 I believe there have been 3 or less (I can only remember 1 for sure) update to Tweetdeck. Once, a new version of Seesmic started crashing on me everytime I used it, but at least a new version came out within days! If Tweetdeck doesn’t suit my needs, I don’t have a lot of hope that things will change in as quick a fashion. And I have never received any communication, mass or otherwise, from Tweetdeck. Ever. I hear about it on mashable.com and when I bother opening the program and get an upgrade prompt.
Managing Multiple Accounts
This is a big one for anyone using Twitter professionally. Both applications allow you to add multiple accounts, and to view replies, directs and friend timelines from each. Seesmic does this great thing where it puts all my friends tweets (regardless of account) into a single column. It puts all my replies/mentions (regardless of account) into another column. And, it puts all my direct messages (regardless of account) into yet another column. In order to make sure my organization is up to date on any outstanding replies or direct messages, I have to read two columns (replies and directs).
On Tweetdeck, I can pick and choose which accounts’ friends, replies and directs are shown but the huge disadvantage is that each accounts’ replies are pushed into their own column. This is the same with direct messages, and with friend timelines. For example, if I want to check for new replies/directs from four accounts, Seesmic makes me read 2 columns and Tweetdeck makes me read 8.
If I want to read new tweets from users that I follow, Seesmic aggregates them into a single column for me (I can choose to filter by account if I want to) and Tweetdeck makes me read a column for every account I own.
Verdict – Seesmic (hands down)
Usability & Conclusion
For day to day use, Tweetdeck really takes the prize in every department except for managing user groups and multiple accounts. It is easier to address messages to other users in Tweetdeck; it’s easier to address tweets to other users without having to remember their usernames; it’s easier to create a list and populate it with multiple users. I also find it easier to select which account(s) to tweet from much smoother and intuitive on Tweetdeck.
That said, as a marketer, I follow a lot of users from a lot of different walks of life. Being able to easily swap them in and out of user groups wins over being able to easily create a group in the first place.
Also, between 9 and 5, I am there to get a job done. Being able to scan two columns and return to my task at hand confident that I haven’t missed anything beats carefully reading 8 columns any day of the week. 8 columns that next week will be 10 columns, and then 20 columns – whereas the Seesmic approach will always be just 2.
Another workplace downside to Tweetdeck is the lack of notification options. Turn them on, or turn them off. Seesmic’s are a little more flexible – I’ve been able to tone them down to a workable level whereas Tweetdeck’s full force or nada approach is too intrusive for my workday.
Tweetdeck has some forward thinking features – such as Facebook chat integration. And the ability to create a tweetdeck.com account and carry your setup from computer to computer (rather than adding all your accounts to every computer you use, creating user groups on every computer you use, setting up your dashboard on every computer you use), is fantastic. In the end, it doesn’t win over Seesmic’s aggregation of information across accounts – and until it does, Tweetdeck = #FAIL.