Today we'll continue with our assessment of the best social media dashboards and analytic tools. In our previous post we looked at Hootsuite. In this post we look at a Hootsuite competitor, TweetDeck.
From the name can you guess who owns or who is currently developing this application? Right, if you guessed Twitter. Though Tweetdeck was not the brainchild of the founders and makers of Twitter, the popular application was acquired by Twitter in 2011.
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TweetDeck is Twitter's most popular application. It is also called a Twitter client. However unlike Hootsuite it caters to only Twitter and Facebook accounts. In fact initially it was targeted only for the Twitter market. Earlier versions did support other services such as MySpace, LinkedIn, GoogleBuzz and Foursquare but these aren't adequately or fully supported as of now.
Tweetdeck is offered both as an app and as a web application available for Windows, Mac OS X, Chrome, iOS, Android and the Chrome Web Store. Note that to use Tweetdeck online you need the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Tweetdeck will not run on Internet Explorer.
Like the beautiful world of free apps and goodies, Tweetdeck is free (at least as of now).
So what does TweetDeck offer? Suppose you have a Twitter account for your company and you would like to monitor all the activity from a single dashboard. We are not talking about just incoming tweets but favorites, sent tweets, replies etc., - to do so you add your company's twitter accounts in TweetDeck and then add a column each for incoming tweets, sent tweets, favorites etc. On your dashboard you can view each of these columns simultaneously, and search them, refresh them separately. In this respect it is similar to Hootsuite.
If you're managing social media for both work and personal, you can have multiple Twitter/Facebook accounts operating from just one Tweetdeck account. Again very similar to Hootsuite.
Take a look at the screenshot below from a Tweetdeck account:
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And here's an image showing Tweetdeck's Facebook integration:
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Note that Tweetdeck allows you an unlimited number of columns (or streams as Hootsuite calls them). Does that mean you will have a ever-growing column list on your Tweetdeck dashboard? Not exactly! Tweetdeck also offers the creation of groups where you can segment fans based on interests or target topics, which will improve their interaction with you and help maintain and engage on the level and topics they are interested in.
You could also have a column exclusively for search alone. In the latest version Tweetdeck call these Lists (like Twitter). In the recent versions you can also view pictures in bigger pop-ups than just a thumbnail. On the iOS and Android there is a new feature called "Interactions" that displays the different types of interactions you have been having with your followers and vice-versa.
Another nice feature of the Tweetdeck application is its ability to link to other Twitter apps such as Twitpic (a web application that allows one to post pictures to Twitter), Twitscoop (a search & topics service) and StockTwits® (a platform for investor interaction). These can be viewed on separate columns as with posts from Facebook accounts or tweets from Twitter accounts on the dashboard.
Like with most of the other social media applications, Tweetdeck also helps with URL shortening, which means it will replace an existing URL you supply with a 'short' version, which is ideal for fitting in the limited number of characters for your tweet.
One other feature that has become commonplace in most social media management applications is the "schedule" feature. You can schedule tweets or posts to be delivered on a particular day and time and Tweetdeck does the rest. You can then have a column for scheduled posts and tweets to see what is going out and when.
Other small but handy feature that Tweetdeck offers and one that Hootsuite could borrow is the auto-complete feature everytime a Twitter user's name was typed.
The big functionality that Hootsuite offers and which Tweetdeck unfortunately doesn't, is a complete statistics and analytics feature. However for analysing website traffic sourced from Tweetdeck URLs you can integrate services such as bit.ly which will then pipe through stats into your Google Analytics account to show you how many referrals you got from TweetDeck back to your website from your tweets/posts.
Next up - Seesmic!