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How I Use Twitter

I’ve now been blogging about Twitter for almost two years – Twittercism’s second birthday is February 18th.

I’ve been using Twitter for close to three years. And in that time, a lot has changed, both within the platform itself and the tools we use to manage it. This post will take a look at these tools – specifically, the ones that I use to make Twitter work for me.

Like nearly all users, my first experience with the website was Twitter.com itself – that’s how most of us register, after all. I still use Twitter.com a lot, and will touch on that later. But whereas new Twitter has significantly improved the functionality of Twitter.com, I still do the bulk of my Twittering in apps, both web-based and mobile.

Again like many users, the first Twitter client I used for any great length of time was TweetDeck. (The very first was Twhirl, but that was a short-lived affair.) TweetDeck lends itself to the new user, but after a while I found the software buggy and sluggish. Tweets and entire users would go missing, it would crash a lot, and as my network grew it became increasingly unreliable. I periodically re-install the latest updates of TweetDeck to see if it’s any better, but it’s just not a software experience I enjoy. If it works for you – and it clearly does for many – then great.

From TweetDeck I switched to Seesmic Desktop, and used to be a huge fan of that – right up until they made a lot of changes that I really did not like. These were significant enough for me to move on, which I did so almost immediately to HootSuite.

(Note: all the screenshots in this article are taken from my Samsung NC10 netbook.)

HootSuite

I’ve been a big fan of HootSuite for a long time, first blogging about the software back in February of last year, but I started using it in late 2009.

Initially this was exclusively at work – my social media team finds the software invaluable for the management of client profiles (of which we handle a great many). But because of problems I was having with Seesmic Desktop, I eventually started using HootSuite at home, too. Which was a very smart decision.

So when they offered the professional upgrade, I happily handed over my credit card. The software isn’t perfect – nothing is – but it’s the closest thing we have to the optimal Twitter client. It’s robust and hardy, but it also looks great, especially on a large screen. And because it’s web app it means that when I move to a new location (and often a new computer) and load it up, HootSuite is exactly where I left it. This is a plus that cannot be emphasised highly enough. It remembers.

I use a seven-column layout for my personal profile, which includes just one list. 99% of all my tweets come through HootSuite. There are improvements that could be made, but they’ll have to really drop the ball for me to look elsewhere any time soon.

Twitter.com

New Twitter hasn’t been to everybody’s taste but it was a huge improvement for me, and my time on Twitter.com was boosted accordingly. I rarely send any tweets there – it’s mostly for management of my network (follows and unfollows, as well as reading user profiles) as I still find Twitter.com the easiest and most reliable way to do this.

Twitter For iPhone

I’ve used many mobile Twitter clients on the iPhone and Blackberry platforms and find the official Twitter app (and before it, Tweetie 2) to be the best option for my needs. It’s slick and fast, and it just works. The experience is extremely positive. I know many don’t like that the only retweet option is the new kind, but as I rarely retweet when ‘on the road’ it doesn’t make any difference to me at all. Indeed, I rarely tweet at all through my iPhone – my interests when away from my desk are monitoring and reading the tweets of other people. And the official app is perfect for that.

HootSuite (iPhone)

I also use HootSuite on the iPhone for the same reasons I use HootSuite – it remembers where I left it, and all my columns and searches are right there whenever I need them. This is super-convenient for the management of client Twitter profiles. However, I don’t use the HootSuite app at all for my personal account.

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So, there you go: that’s me. You’ll have your own list of favourites, but I recommend all of these products highly. Please try them all. You might already have the perfect tools in place, but you can’t possibly know that until you’ve done a little experimentation. But always remember: what works for you, works.

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