Why Use a Twitter Client? Third-Party Applications vs. the Twitter Web Interface

why-use-twitter-client-tweetdeckDespite the emergence of new social networks such as Google+, Twitter hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. If you are just getting started with the microblogging service, you might have heard something about Twitter applications or clients. What exactly are they and do they offer anything special that you can’t get from the regular old web interface?

Before going too far, we should nail down some terms. There are two main ways to use Twitter: official apps, which include Twitter.com, Twitter for iPhone, Blackberry or Android, and third-party clients or applications, such as Hootsuite, BufferApp, SocialOomph and many more. These third-party apps also come in desktop, web and mobile flavors.

One major benefit of using Twitter clients is the customization they allow for reading and organizing tweets, as well as finding new users to follow. People don’t use Twitter in exactly the manner envisioned by the company, so third-party developers have stepped in to add the functionality they want.

Some applications allow you to quickly scroll through a number of self-defined columns each containing a particular list, keyword, hashtag, or core Twitter function. Trying to keep track of so much information on the Twitter web interface would be a much more cumbersome process. Other clients allow you to tag and organize your followers into different types of groups that can do much more than the official Twitter lists.

Another major reason people use Twitter applications is that they support advanced management of your Twitter account. You can schedule tweets so that your messages will be posted at any time in the future. This can be a great strategy if you have a lot of content to share but don’t want to bombard your list of followers. Many clients also integrate with other services, such as the Bit.ly url shortener, which makes posting links much more convenient.

Many third-party apps also allow you to post to multiple accounts seamlessly. If you have a personal account as well as one you use for professional networking or a blog you own, you’ll want to be able to easily post content to both accounts without having to log in and out all the time.

Finally, many social media management tools allow you to control various accounts, including Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn and more, all from one central dashboard. For a business or organization trying to engage with its audience or monitor feedback and mentions, a third-party client can save a lot of time and energy.

The line between official and third-party apps can get a little hazy, however. TweetDeck, one of the most popular applications for managing Twitter, Facebook and other social network profiles, was recently acquired by Twitter, so it is now an “official” app. Additionally, Twitter has recently unveiled a new web interface which intends to offer many of the popular features that were only possible through a third-party app.

It’s clear that Twitter is trying to gain market share for its official apps, and some speculate that it is acquiring third-party Twitter apps with the intention of gradually shutting them down. If you use the social network, how do you prefer to post your tweets?

andrew walshAndrew Walsh is the owner and editor of Social Web Q and A. He is a freelance writer, academic librarian and web entrepreneur. Check out his book Savvy for the Social Web.

 

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Comments

  1. I have gone back and forth with this. I used HootSuite in the past but this was when I was managing multiple Twitter handles. I recently have been focusing on just one Twitter handle and I have been using the regular Twitter interface. I like the change that Twitter has made recently and actually prefer going direct.

  2. Andrew Walsh says:

    Hey Dan, I’m with you: the new Twitter is a lot better and much more usable. I still use TweetDeck because I manage a few handles and a Facebook page, but I do log onto Twitter’s web version a good deal as well. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I used to use TweetDeck years ago but now mainly use HootSuite as I can access it from anywhere without having to worry about installing anything. The additional ability of managing my Facebook page as well is also a benefit.

    I never did get adjusted to the Twitter site, however; but then again with the number of third party tools available, I never gave the Twitter site much of a chance.

    • Andrew Walsh says:

      Hi Paul,
      I have been meaning to give HootSuite a try myself. With TweetDeck, I do only use it on my laptop. It would be great to be able to just log into a web interface to have access on the go or on any other device.
      I never used the Twitter site in the past, but now the new interface is a lot more useful. It might be worth checking it out, although it obviously can’t compete with HootSuite in terms of multiple profile management.

  4. I used to love TweetDeck and changed to Hootsuit because TD became too slow. After the recent change in twitter’s interface, I better prefer to use twitter directly.

    • Andrew Walsh says:

      TweetDeck seems to still be working okay for me, but I have heard some grumblings about the service now that it has been acquired by Twitter. I really should give HootSuite a try; I’ve heard a lot of good things. And I agree that Twitter’s new interface makes it a lot easier to use.

  5. Thanks for the post–you’ve made it really easy to understand.

  6. As much as I have tried, I simply cannot get into the motion of tweeting. However, in my short tweeting days, I used TweetDeck, which came preinstalled on my Droid. It was alright, no real complaints, but then again I only used it for a short period. I’m more of a reader of tweets than a tweeter.

    • Andrew Walsh says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      I think that’s one of the coolest parts of Twitter. You can use it as a content sharing space, or as a dynamic, highly personalized news platform. The default “open” nature of profiles gives anyone the ability to follow people and topics they care about. Now, if only everyone knew when they shouldn’t hit the tweet button!

  7. Hey Andrew, this post can inspire some developers to start a new app. Thanks for sharing
    I use Tweetdeck and twitter web interface to send tweets to my profiles.
    I use http://easyretweet.com, http://justretweet.com and retweet.it for retweets

    • Andrew Walsh says:

      Hi Enstine,

      You’re welcome. I hadn’t heard of those tools for retweeting, but they look interesting. It’s cool how the sky is really the limit for developers!

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