Chances are that if you’re a big business, small business or even just your average Joe, you will be utilizing some kind of social media scheduling software. After all, who has the time these days to manage both their day to day tasks and social media accounts? I know I certainly don’t, which is where social media management tools come in.
With so many platforms jostling for position it can take a hell of a lot of research to find the one that’s right for you. The good news is that I have tried two of them myself, so what better way to help you decide than by comparing and contrasting these social media frontrunners – TweetDeck (who counts powerhouse devotees such as Yahoo! and Nestle among it’s following) and HootSuite (the preferred social media client of McDonalds and Virgin)?
In terms of pricing alone, TweetDeck wins by a nose with a completely free account. Coming complete with an array of customizable columns that include interactions, messages, mentions, lists, trends, scheduled updates and more, TweetDeck offers easy access to every corner of your Twitter account coupled with message scheduling capability and the option to import an unlimited number of social profiles.
Sounds perfect right? Well, just take a look at what HootSuite has to offer…
Allowing prospective users the freedom to choose either a free account (which includes five social media profiles, brief reporting, message scheduling and two RSS feeds) or a paid alternative, HootSuite has something to offer every size of business. Although the paid account does come with a $9.99 per month price tag, it justifies the additional cost with an array of in-depth features; namely unlimited social profiles, message scheduling, two free users, an enhanced analytics report, Google Analytics integration, Facebook Insights integration and unlimited RSS feeds.
You can certainly see why it’s the social media manager of choice for busy marketing companies.
Layout and Ease of Use
I know the layout of a webpage is often a matter of personal taste, so I suggest taking the following points into careful consideration before taking a closer look at both TweetDeck and HootSuite yourself. And my personal opinion? HootSuite offers a much cleaner, more responsive page from which to work.
The white background is easy on the eye, the interactions of each social media profile are viewable in their own personal tab and the scheduled updates of each profile can be seen in one wide column – ideal for those keeping a sharp eye on multiple brands. But, as with anything, there is a downside… a cluttered message scheduling box that can be tricky to get the hang of at first.
TweetDeck on the other hand offers a much simpler scheduling box, but among a somewhat disorienting home page. Operating against a black background dominated by a multitude of feature columns, TweetDeck forgoes the handy layout of HootSuite for a more integrated, but often lethargic user interface that can prove troublesome for those managing lots of social media profiles. But smaller businesses rejoice! For it’s a great way of monitoring all aspects of your account at once, allowing you to react to each question or qualm instantly in one easy to access place.
The great thing about these platforms is that they both offer mobile apps, although TweetDeck doesn’t yet provide one for social media savvy Blackberry users and has been criticized for an unreliable iPhone and iPad offering.
At the end of the day, a social media scheduling tool should do just that, and the good news is that HootSuite is relatively flawless. In my experience of using the site I only encountered a couple of instances where updates failed to post, and was alerted to these when I didn’t receive my usual email telling me that they had been successfully updated (a tick box that you can opt out of if you’d prefer not to be inundated with emails).
When using a paid account, users are also able to bulk schedule updates as well as utilize a feature that automatically sends them on your behalf at an optimal time, theoretically reaching more users. However, posting pictures to Facebook is a whole different, hell, impossible ball game if you aren’t also using a Twitter account, a glitch that HootSuite has reportedly been working on improving for over a year now.
This is a non-existent problem in TweetDeck, although I’ve faced an uphill battle in the past with actually getting these pictures to appear. They never seemed to materialize in my updates, and when using TweetDeck for around 12 social media profiles many updates just failed to post altogether, and without any notification – a feature that isn’t great for social media marketers posting on the behalf of clients.
I did notice a vast improvement in this after moving most of my clients to HootSuite and using TweetDeck for just three, but it didn’t improve TweetDeck’s Facebook capabilities. As well as only allowing the integration of one Facebook profile, I found that it rarely managed to schedule Facebook updates successfully.
What others say
Is it Twitter’s fault that TweetDeck is under-performing? It seems that many things the social media giant touches these days have a habit of changing for the worse – take their annulment with Tumblr for example, a move that only served to infuriate fans of both websites. Simply Zesty haven’t failed to notice this trend, themselves blogging about how much more efficient TweetDeck was in the days before it was bought out by Twitter.
And the complaints don’t stop at TweetDeck; HootSuite has caused controversy after the discovery that posts scheduled through the client might actually be less visible to social media users than if they’d been posted manually. Even I hadn’t consciously noticed this, but when thinking back to past Facebook Insights and follower interactions I can definitely see a worrying trend.
And the winner is…
Both. Well, depending on how you plan to use them that is.
While both tools have their pros and cons, they also seem to work in favor of different requirements. While a paid HootSuite account offers capabilities that are perfect for larger businesses and those in the marketing sector (hence my own allegiance), TweetDeck offers features well within the needs of smaller brands and those managing just a few social media accounts.
Think of it like this; while TweetDeck is the Citroen C1 (a reliable day-to-day run-around that, generally, won’t let you down), HootSuite is the Fiat 500 (altogether more refined and full of added features for an extra-dimensional ride).
And if you’re still looking for that perfect social media management tool? You could always extend your search over Seesmic, SproutSocial or Wildfire – all highly recommended by bloggers and industry professionals alike.