Why I’ve Switched 100% To HootSuite For My Desktop-Based Twittering (For Now)

A couple of months ago, I suggested that HootSuite was the closest thing we have to the perfect Twitter client.

Since then, and really over the past fortnight or so, I’ve switched completely to HootSuite for all of my desktop-based Twitter interaction. I no longer use any downloadable Twitter client.

Here’s why:

  1. Wherever I go, when I log into HootSuite it’s configured exactly how it was when I last left it.
  2. My columns, lists, searches and setup are all right there. All the time.
  3. This is the beauty of all web-based apps, of course (see later for more on this) – whether I’m at home, at work, looking at HootSuite on my iPhone, or even at an internet café or friend’s house, it’s enormously comforting, as well as productive, to know that when I log onto HootSuite, I’m getting exactly what I want.
  4. I manage several client accounts on Twitter, and HootSuite is far and away the best and easiest way to do this. It makes CoTweet look like a dinosaur in comparison. Especially as the iPhone HootSuite app means you can monitor and respond to brand mentions essentially 24/7.
  5. Scheduling tweets is a breeze (as is editing those that are pending).
  6. The one-click conversations feature is super-useful, especially when you get a very random, out-of-nowhere reply to something that you’d long forgotten about.
  7. The audio notification is really subtle (and doesn’t scare the life out of you like on TweetDeck).
  8. There’s some syncing available with some downloadable Twitter clients, but it means installing the software everywhere you go. This often isn’t an option at work or at a new location, and that means a juggling act between the client and the next best thing.
  9. I’m a big fan of owls.

HootSuite still isn’t perfect, and the inability to choose the URL shortener I want – bit.ly being the only shortener anybody should be using (assuming, you know, you want people to read and retweet your stuff) – is still a problem. I use bit.ly sidebar for every link I share, which is fine and something I’m now very much used to doing, but if you have to leave an app to get the feature you want, that’s a problem. Most people won’t bother, and that’s a shame, as HootSuite nails virtually everything else.

There are other web-based options, of course. Lots of folks love Brizzly, but it just hasn’t quite clicked for me, possibly because I’m a big fan of columns. I spend most of my time in lists, mentions and searches, and in Brizzly that means constant clicking from one-to-another.

It also niggles that I have to be on the home screen to actually write a new tweet. Plus, every time I visit Brizzly, it tells me I have loads of unread direct messages, which I do not. Sure, I can tell it to ‘shhh’, but that’s one extra step I never have to do on HootSuite. A minor irritant, but an irritation nonetheless.

Still, Brizzly does have something, and enough people I respect rate it to prevent me from dismissing it entirely without further investigation. (This includes Brizzly for iPhone, which I’m downloading as I write. Still, it’ll have to get up very early in the morning to supersede Tweetie as my mobile app of choice.)

Others rave about the Seesmic web app, but I find the features there a little lacking, notably the inability to manage multiple accounts. It all seems a little cold, too.

Both of these score a hefty win over HootSuite by incorporating the new-style Twitter retweets (although the way Seesmic web manages retweets of me is essentially useless), and as I find myself using the internal RTs more and more it’s a feature that’s notably missing from HootSuite. Again, I have to visit Twitter.com to monitor all of this, or to actually do a Twitter-style RT at all, which is another sign that something is broken.

But HootSuite gives me enough that this is something I’m prepared to put up with. For now. You see, us Twitter users are fickle beasts, and prone to hop over to the next best app when it offers a solution to something that has started to eat away at our very souls. Or has simply become a nuisance.

I’m encouraged by news that a pro version of HootSuite is on the cards (confirmed here). Assuming it’s not priced at ludicrous Rupert Murdoch-style levels, solves all of these issues and gives us some cool new stuff to play around with, I’ll happily pay for the privilege of accessing and interacting with Twitter in the best way that I possibly can.

All that being said, this reminds me of my previous comments about how a plugin-based Twitter app, which would allow us to pick our favourite elements from HootSuite, Brizzly, Seesmic, TweetDeck, Tweetie and every other app out there, is still, in this Twitterer’s opinion, the best way forward.