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How To Configure Seesmic Desktop For Fun And Profit

I had planned (and hoped) to do a video tutorial for Seesmic Desktop, but I just haven’t had the time. However, I know enough people are waiting for me to do something, and I get enough questions on a day-to-day basis about Seesmic, that I felt it wasn’t fair to keep these folk waiting any longer. So, to compromise, and along the lines of my tutorial about TweetDeck, here we go.

I first reviewed Seesmic Desktop in April of this year. Back then, I felt the software had a lot of potential, but was far too buggy on the Windows platform. In late May, version 0.2.1 of the software was released, and with it several significant improvements. So much so, in fact, that I switched from TweetDeck, my de facto Twitter client of choice, completely to Seesmic Desktop, and haven’t looked back.

If you’re unfamiliar with Seesmic Desktop, or wish to know more about the pros and cons of the software, please read my most recent article before continuing with this tutorial.

It’s also important you have the latest version of the software, which at the time of writing is 0.2.1. (Note: this is a direct download. If this is your first install of Seesmic Desktop, you will need to install Adobe AIR first. Adobe AIR works on Windows, OSX and Linux.)

Let’s Get The Semantics Out Of The Way

  1. I define ‘fun’ as ‘enjoying your time on Twitter’, and
  2. With ‘profit’, I am referring explicitly to the spiritual gain you will make from the rewarding relationships Seesmic Desktop will help you build with your followers. This is not to be confused with financial gain; that said, because Seesmic greatly improves the Twitter experience, certainly in terms of engagement, this is a realistic possibility.

The Setup

Samsung NC10Regular readers will be aware that I do all of my Twittering (and everything else) via a Samsung NC10 netbook. The NC10 is a fantastic computer that is powerful enough for all of my needs, and it’s important to note that it has a 10-inch screen with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels. This means that while I get significant benefit from the way I configure Seesmic Desktop (and, indeed, the way I configured TweetDeck), readers with larger screens (i.e., on a standard-sized laptop or desktop computer) will be able to tweak Seesmic for even greater rewards.

Now, let’s look at how I setup the backend of Seesmic Desktop.

Seesmic Desktop: Setup

(Click to enlarge this image, and all that follow)

There are four things here to note.

  1. I only use Seesmic Desktop for Twitter. I’ve voiced my concerns about the noise you get when using any kind of cross-platform status manager on this blog in the past, and I’m not about to change my mind. While I do share some of my Twitter updates with my Facebook contacts, it’s occasional and done on a manual basis.
  2. I Choose The Via Option For Re-Tweets. One of Seesmic’s best features is it allows you to tweak how any re-tweets you do are handled within the client. There are four options available – I prefer the ‘via’ method myself. I think it looks neater and the important part of the tweet – the content and the link – is immediately visible to the reader. While it’s essential to give credit to other Twitterers when re-sharing content, I believe that the content should come first.
  3. The API Requests Per Hour. Unlike TweetDeck, which allows you to configure the software so that it uses Twitter’s maximum 100 API calls per hour (if you so choose), Seesmic limits you to peak of 80. When I first got the software I thought this might be an issue – I used to regularly run out of API on TweetDeck, and I feared this would be a more frequent occurrence on the more limiting Seesmic. My fears were unfounded, however – I can state for the record that I have never run out of Twitter API on Seesmic.
  4. Auto-Refreshing Priorities. I set up my API limits as you see in the image – as with TweetDeck, I tend to set my direct message notifications lower than anything else, as Twitter’s email notification process means I am aware (and can respond) to any I receive independently of the client.

The Basics

Like TweetDeck, you can reply, re-tweet, message etc your followers by mousing-over their avatar and clicking on one of the four icons.

Seesmic Desktop: Icons

The panes in Seesmic can be a little ungainly when you first use the software. Being frank, it’s the worst aspect of the system and I’d like to see it radically redesigned in future updates to something that’s just a basic drag and drop. The concept of ‘detaching’ panes is a little alien, to be honest, and it can be an awkward process moving things to the right spot, with windows left behind other windows and slightly bewildering things like that.

That said, there’s enough of the really good stuff for it not to be much of an issue – once you’re configured your display, you’re set.

My Configuration

This is how my Seesmic Desktop looks:

Seesmic Desktop: My Configuration

When you first install and run Seesmic your account pane is a pretty basic feed of your Twitter stream. However, if you click on your username under ‘Accounts’ in the left sidebar, you will have access to a far more feature-rich pane, which has six tabs.

Seesmic Desktop: Accounts Pane

This gives you a lot more power over your network. The tabs let you quickly view your stream, your replies, your direct messages (sent and received), and all the tweets you have sent. I find this super-convenient.

It also includes a cool ‘look up’ feature:

Seesmic Desktop: Lookup

This allows you to easily search Twitter for anybody you like. Once a search is complete, you can browse, reply, re-tweet or favourite tweets, send direct messages, as well as follow, unfollow or block.

You can also use this feature to quickly add people to your userlists.

Userlists (Groups)

Userlists operate in a similar way to groups on TweetDeck, but in my opinion are far more responsive and configurable.

Seesmic Desktop: Userlists

They’re also a lot less buggy – groups on TweetDeck work really well up to a certain point, but when you start to follow thousands of users they can become a real mess. They can also take forever to edit, particularly if you want to remove people en masse.

On Seesmic, it’s a very simple process. Just click on the little edit button, and you can easily delete people from your list.

Seesmic Desktop: Edit Userlist

To add people, just click on the extras button, and select ‘Add to userlist’.

Note that I have three userlists – one I call ‘interesting people’, which is mostly people relevant to my interests (technology, social media, current affairs, etc), one for my friends, and one for Twitter personnel. Due to screen limitations, I only have one group open at a time – on a normal-sized monitor you could have several, and I recommend that you do.

One major plus – when you close a group, it isn’t deleted. You can access it again at any time from the left sidebar. To delete it, click on the edit icon, and select ‘Delete List’.

Search

The search box in Seesmic is located in the top-right hand corner of the screen.

Seesmic Desktop: Search

Enter your query, and a new pane will open. You can have more than one search window, and active searches are visible in the left sidebar. Like groups, when you close a search pane, it isn’t erased entirely – to do this, click on the X icon.

You’ll note that my search query is for ‘@sheamus or twittercism’. This allows me to monitor any mention of both. I search for @sheamus for the same reasons that I did on TweetDeck – sometimes, Twitter’s replies feature is slow (or down completely), and things often get missed or overlooked, or people make a typo and forget the @ symbol. This ensures I don’t miss any reply or mention from my stream.

Conclusion

If you haven’t yet installed Seesmic Desktop, I strongly recommend you give it a try, certainly if you’re a TweetDeck fan and have been having issues, and absolutely if your experience is still limited to Twitter.com. Applications like Seesmic make a world of difference to the ways in which you can monitor your network and engage with your followers. It can seem a little strange at first, particularly if you’re jumping over from the web, but stick with it – the benefits will soon become obvious, and it won’t be long until you’re using Twitter for fun, and profit, too. :)

(If you have any questions or problems, hit the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out.)

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