Even if you only use the basic functionality of Seesmic, HootSuite or TweetDeck, I highly recommend using one of them. All of them are good for seeing all of your social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) in one place and having the capability to post to all of them (or some of them) at the same time. You will be more likely to get engaged with social networking if you can go to one place to do it.
For this article, I am comparing these programs on Google Chrome. For those of you who have not made the switch to cloud computing or don’t even know what that is, let me explain. Google Chrome is a program like Internet Explorer, which you use to see Websites. I am finding it to be much cleaner because I don’t have ten toolbars across the top of my browser and they make it easier to return to the same Websites that I frequently use. They also offer several programs for you to use instead of downloading them to your desktop. I prefer having my work done “in the cloud” so if my computer crashes, nothing is lost. The reason I include this information is somewhat of a disclaimer, just in case there are different functionalities with the desktop versions that you download.
Now, the comparison between the top three players in the world of making social networking easier for you. Seesmic was the first one I started using in Google Chrome and I was really enjoying the new features that I hadn’t seen on the desktop versions of the others in the past. The Twitter feed refreshes just often enough so you can actually read the tweets on your home feed which are coming from everyone that you follow. Now that Facebook upgraded the business pages, I tried to add access to those pages but had difficulty doing so. One feature on Seesmic that I did not see on the others is a translation option.
TweetDeck can post to Facebook groups, which I did not see on the other programs. I really like that it combined my mentions on Twitter and Facebook (posts on my wall or comments on my posts) into one column. The Twitter feed is constantly scrolling (too fast to read). I was also unable to add LinkedIn. My guess is that they are still working out the Google Chrome version and your settings are easier to change on the desktop version.
HootSuite is the one that won me over. In addition to the other features mentioned above, they add separate columns for scheduled posts to each network. HootSuite seems to have all of the features and capability that you have when you are using Twitter.com. One feature I really like is that you can send a tweet via e-mail. This may seem strange, but sometimes I want to share content with people I know are not using Social Media. You can also filter within a feed. This means that you can set up a feed for #eventprofs and filter the feed to only show tweets with certain keywords or by people with a certain Klout score.
I decided to upgrade my account for $5.99/month. If you need to show the return on investment of your social media efforts, then it is worth the upgrade because it shows your Google analytics and Facebook insights. Scott Stratten said, “When you ask for the ROI on social media, a kitten dies.” While I tend to agree in the sense that the purpose of social media is to have a conversation, unfortunately, most of us do not have the luxury to engage in any activity for which we cannot show the value.