What is TweetDeck? TweetDeck explained.

A big Joe Hage welcome to Rich Hopkins!

Thanks for the guest post, Rich!

If you haven’t tried TweetDeck, you either haven’t tweeted long enough, or you’re dutifully using Twitter in the way they intended. The craze called Twitter has more than doubled in the last 12 months, and is expected go grow exponentially in 2009. Why? Because most of us are using it wrong!

What Twitter brands as “a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” is now what its market has demanded: a micro-blog twisted with instant messages along with sides of marketing, sage advice, and outbound links – all thrown into a free buffet, available for anyone to partake a plateful.

Twitter itself has yet to adapt to this ‘abuse’ of its systems, and despite reduced appearances of its ‘fail-whale’, other applications, including TweetDeck and Twhirl, are filling the void Twitter has left for high-volume users.

Once you’re following hundreds, or thousands, of fellow Twitterers, the need to hit the refresh bar makes you feel like a lab rat continually tapping for its dinner. Using AdobeAir (a separate, free program nearly as easy to install as Acrobat Reader), Twhirl and TweetDeck both resolve that issue, creating a constantly running faucet of tweets. Both allow you to separate Direct Messages and @Replies, see the string of tweets from an individual user, and tweet within the application itself, without ever going to your browser.

I used Twhirl for the first two months of serious tweeting (like many, I had a mostly unused account for several months, before finally getting hooked). It was small, quick, and easy. Until I started following 300+ individuals, and had regular conversations with dozens at once. As I moved from the hundreds to thousands, Twhirl wasn’t enough. A quick complaint in the TweetStream later, I had many friends suggest I upgrade to TweetDeck. I resisted for a few more weeks, but eventually succumbed to the pressure of inconvenience and peer influence.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d gone from a plate to a platter.

The primary benefits of TweetDeck are its ability to show you everything you want to see at once, in an organized column format. It defaults with columns of @Replies, DM’s, and AllFriends. You can keep or delete those columns (and bring them back again if you choose).

Its power becomes apparent when you start creating your own columns. This allows you to ‘file’ your follows. Want a steady stream of life coach tweets? Hit the ‘group’ button, and select all the life coaches you follow. Repeat to create columns of IT folk, speaker coaches, celebrities, artists, family and friends – and organize the columns on your screen by moving them left or right. If you have 10 columns built, just use the slide bar. If you keep TweetDeck running, it keeps a long record of tweets, allowing you to go to a column after days away, and catch up. Caution: while friends, DM’s and @Replies are default settings, if you delete a custom column you must recreate from scratch – so think carefully before hitting that delete button!

TweetDeck also allows you to isolate individuals you follow by clicking their name at the bottom of a tweet, giving you a list of their stats and a log of recent tweets. Did your friend just @Reply someone you don’t know? Click their name in the tweet and they will show up as well, allowing you to follow, and even assign them to a column of your choice.

Looking for people talking on a particular topic? Create a search column on your term, and see a stream of Twitterers perfect for your list.

Other features include an automatic ’12 seconds’ column, which interfaces with the micro-video blogging application, a scoop button which creates a cloud of what is hot on Twitter at the moment, and also has standard buttons allowing you to reply, direct message, and favorite, both on top of the application, and appearing when you hover over an avatar.

TweetDeck does have some downsides. It takes up more space (though you can create a single column view). It doesn’t allow for multiple accounts, a feature Twhirl offers. While having little to do with functionality, many people complain its just ugly. While the blocky skin seems unavoidable, custom colors are just a few clicks away (hit the wrench at the top-right to play with settings).

I have found TweetDeck enhances my ability to converse through Twitter by refining my focus. Instead of a meal that is thrown together willy-nilly, I can keep my veggies separate from my fruit, and experience the different flavors of those I follow with greater intensity and appreciation. Just in case I need Tweet-binge, the All Friends column sits waiting.

If you’re one the hundreds of thousands using Twitter ‘wrong’, give TweetDeck a seven-day shot. You never know what you’re missing until you’re not!

About the Author: Rich Hopkins is a presentations coach, speaker, and the author of Win, Place & Show, He is a two-time finalist in the World Championship of Public Speaking, and has been addicted to twitter as @RichHopkins since September of 2008. He can be reached at www.richhopkinsspeaks.com.

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  1. Joe/Rich,

    Great post! If you like TweetDeck, you’ll LOVE PeopleBrowsr.com. I find TweetDeck is a HUGE resource hog but…

    Plus, it’s Web based so you can use it on any computer anywhere! Try it, you’ll like it!

    Rick Z.

  2. Thanks, Rick. Will give it a look.
    ~ Joe

  3. I agree, i had some real issues with tweetdeck, my pc hasn’t frozen in a long time, but i think it has done it a few times, i like twhirl but i don’t have a huge following so it works for me i could see how it wouldn’t be enough otherwise. i might try out peoplebrowsr thanks for the tip.

  4. Thanks, Matt. Come back after you try peoplebrowsr and let us know what you think.


  5. Downloaded tweetdeck 3 days ago and I am really liking the experience. This is my first ‘Air’ application as well. BTW, Twhirl is now seesmic. But they accept it’s buggy, didn’t want to try it out 😀

    Best part is unlike twitbin (firefox plugin) I get to choose whether I want to shorten my URLs or not 🙂

  6. Thanks Joe. Great review of TweetDeck. It is really useful to me.

  7. Thanks, Annuar, but it’s Rich who deserves the credit.

    P.S. I don’t use Tweetdeck. I’m using http://Hootsuite.com and enjoying the experience.

  8. Joe, Thank you for the great overview of Tweetdeck. Just what I needed. Looks like a convenient tool for Twitter.
    Coach Theresa Ip Froehlich
    .-= Theresa Ip Froehlich´s last blog ..Welcome =-.

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