What is HootSuite?
HootSuite is best described as a social media management system. It allows a user or company to manage multiple social networks in one dashboard. You can post to multiple networks at the same time, customise tabs to give you relevant information and mark social posts for team members (or yourself) to follow up.
Be sure to check out our article on Buffer, another social media management tool.
What is TweetDeck?
TweetDeck is a Twitter account management system that is owned by Twitter Inc. It use to support multiple social networks, but as of the 7 May 2013, Twitter is the only supported network. TweetDeck and HootSuite share many features as Twitter management systems, but there are distinct differences which I will mention below.
HootSuite versus TweetDeck
Firstly HootSuite and TweetDeck are not the only social media management systems on the market. Adobe Social, Buffer, dlvr.it, Sensible, SproutSocial, Argyle Social and Salesforce Marketing Cloud also serve this purpose. The popularity of TweetDeck and HootSuite is due to the fact that they can be used free of charge. HootSuite does offer upgrades at a cost, but it is perfectly functional on the free package.
The short of it is not the whole story. TweetDeck at face-value appears vastly inferior to HootSuite, but that isn’t the case. The irony of the matter is that TweetDeck is indispensable to me, while hootSuite, can be replaced by one of its competitors. “Why?” you ask. It comes down to the depth of integration with Twitter. HootSuite works well as a Twitter client, but there are a few critical areas where HootSuite flops and TweetDeck excels.
HootSuite is a third-party Twitter client and it is behaves like one. TweetDeck is also regarded to be a third-party Twitter client but it behaves like it has married to Twitter. I’ll do some comparisons.
HootSuite allows one to have up to five streams visible on one’s screen at a time. With some tweaking, I have managed to squeeze eight streams into my 1080p screen using TweetDeck.
HootSuite will allow you to add custom Twitter streams with keywords and search terms, but it is not as easy to refine a search term as it is in TweetDeck, nor is it as quick to add search term stream.
A feature that I love that appears to only be available on native Twitter clients and TweetDeck is the “Interactions” stream. TweetDeck will combine one’s mentions, Tweets that have been retweeted, Tweets that have been “favourited” and a list your newest followers into one column called “Interactions”. In HootSuite a separate column has to be created for every individual interaction. It may not be a make or break feature, but where you screen is such precious real estate, it can be a huge plus.
HootSuite supports multiple tabs that can house multiple streams, while TweetDeck only supports multiple streams. Having multiple tabs for specific groups of streams is very useful if one manages multiple Twitter accounts.
This next difference will most likely put most large businesses off TweetDeck. HootSuite supports multiple users under one account umbrella. Adding a user simply involves creating a unique account for that specific user and providing him/her with privileges.
TweetDeck does not support organisational accounts. A new TweetDeck account must be created for every new user and Twitter accounts need to be added to every individual account manually. This difference is akin to the difference between a peer-to-peer network and a server/client network. For large organisations, with several people managing their social media accounts, TweetDeck is just impractical to set up.
If you upload a photo to Twitter using HootSuite, users will be able view the photograph in their timeline, but it won’t always be expanded (depending on the client). When TweetDeck is used, it relies on Twitter’s native picture API, therefore the picture will appear expanded in a user’s timeline (unless personal settings prohibit it). The TweetDeck picture is also larger than the HootSuite version when expanded. This may appear to be a small difference but it simply isn’t. Twitter operates at such a speed that having an expanded picture can mean the difference between being ignored and engaged with.
The last and most critical difference between TweetDeck and HootSuite is timeline refresh rate. HootSuite can be set to refesh your Twitter streams, most frequently, every two minutes. TweetDeck pushes new Tweets to your streams as they appear. This is the make or break feature for me. I don’t have a large organisation but need my streams refreshed instantaneously. TweetDeck makes HootSuite look like an ox wagon in this regard. Try using TweetDeck for a while and switch to HootSuite for Twitter and the difference will be startling.
But you haven’t covered HootSuite’s other features!
No I haven’t gone into depth about the many additional features that HootSuite provides (I will mention some below), but TweetDeck can only be compared to HootSuite as a Twitter client, since it does not support other social networks.
HootSuite provides organisations with other features that blow TweetDeck out of the water. For an individual, HootSuite supports many additional social networks natively (Facebook, Google+ Pages, LinkedIn and more) and it supports third-party apps to integrate the likes of Tumblr and Instagram.
For organisations HootSuite supports internal communication and the ability to mark content and assign it to a team member. This is simply invaluable to an organisation and overshadows the benefits that TweetDeck provides as a Twitter client.
TweetDeck has actually gone backwards over the past few years. It use to support Facebook and other networks but Twitter has methodically removed support for these networks since its purchase. TweetDeck shines when it comes to being a Twitter client for an individual or small company, but all its benefits cannot out way its disadvantages when it is looked at through corporate eyes.
HootSuite has gone from strength to strength since its introduction in 2008. It has eaten up its biggest competition, Seesmic, and now stands out as the leader in social media management. It targets a broad market, from an individual to a small company to the multinational corporation. I doubt it will ever acquire the necessary features to make it an excellent Twitter client, but Twitter integration is far from the only use for HootSuite.
My advice is: if you only have one or two people managing your social media accounts, use TweetDeck for Twitter and HootSuite for everything else. If you have more than two people managing the company’s social networks just use HootSuite and do take a look at its competitors: Adobe Social, Buffer, dlvr.it, Sensible, SproutSocial, Argyle Social, Salesforce Marketing Cloud etc.
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I have not been paid to write this article for HootSuite Media Inc, Twitter Inc or any other third-party.