Social Media Dashboard – Why You Should Be Using One

How many of you have a Twitter account?

A Facebook Page?

A Facebook Fan Page?

How many of you have more than one of each of these to manage?

I do. I have twitter and Facebook accounts linked to my blog and linked to my real (anonymous) identity. This means I am trying to manage a total of 5 social media accounts at any given moment. Needless to say, it can get a little hectic.

This is where social media dashboard clients come in. They are designed to make your life much simpler by allowing you to manage all of your accounts using one simple platform. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to juggle 2, 5, 10 or 15 accounts – the fact of the matter is if you have both twitter and Facebook accounts, you should consider using one of these platforms.

Now, that being said, there are numerous client options available to you, each claiming to be the best thing since the stiletto heel was invented. How do you decide which one is best for your needs? What features should you be looking for? Here are just a few questions to consider:

  1. Can they accommodate all of your accounts?
  2. Do they allow you to schedule tweets and Facebook posts?
  3. Do they all you to personalize/customize your experience?
  4. Are they simple to use?
  5. Are they free?

Depending on your personal needs the questions above will change. However, they offer a good starting point when comparing the various options available to you, and I will address each in my comparison below.

I have decided to compare the three most popular clients – Hootsuite, Seesmic and Tweetdeck – and will provide some pros and cons for using each, as well as some screenshots of the individual clients and iPhone apps.  Please keep in mind that these are strictly my opinions, based on my personal use of each client. Your experiences may differ depending on your needs.

Hootsuite

Let’s start with Hootsuite. This is quickly becoming one of the most popular social media clients in use today and for good reason:

  • Entirely web-based, so there is no need to download anything to your PC.
  • iPhone, iTouch, iPad, Android and Blackberry apps available.
  • Allows user to manage up to 5 social networking accounts for free.
  • Ability to schedule tweets and Facebook updates with ease.
  • Allows some customization via 3 theme options and column selection.
  • Provides basic statistics, including twitter clickthroughs and popular links.
  • Built in URL shortener.
  • KLOUT rating is available via individual twitter profiles.
  • Automatically publish your newest posts to twitter/Facebook by adding up to 2 RSS feeds.
  • It’s fun – the owl theme they use is cute and fun!

Sounds great, right?  Unfortunately, as with all clients, there are some cons as well:

  • Some of Hootsuite’s best features are only available in the PRO ($5.99/month) version:
    • Want to manage more than 5 social media accounts?  It will cost you. (Note: most of us don’t have this many, but if you run more than 1 blog, you probably do.)
    • Want advanced reporting, including Facebook Insights and Google Analytics? It will cost you.
    • Don’t want to see promoted tweets?  It will cost you.
    • Have more than 2 RSS feeds you want to auto-publish?  It will cost you.
  • The interface is overly-crowded.
    • No in-line image previews.
    • Makes it more difficult to manage and, in my opinion, somewhat unpleasant to look at.
  • Inactivity causes the program to go to sleep, causing breaks in your monitored streams.
    • Unless I am missing something, twitter usually needs to be refreshed manually.
  • Some people report problems with ping.fm integration.
  • No additional plug-ins available to enhance experience (ie: google reader, ebay, formspring, bing, etc).

So, what does Hootsuite look like?  This is a screenshot of my Hootsuite site:

social media blog improvement blog  Social Media Dashboard   Why You Should Be Using One

Hootsuite

The screen above shows:

  1. My twitter homepage.
  2. Twitter mentions of me.
  3. My sent tweets
  4. My Facebook home page.

This is why having a client like this is so invaluable.  They put all of your social media information in one place so you don’t have to have a million browser windows open!

Here is the Hootsuite iPhone app:

social media blog improvement blog  Social Media Dashboard   Why You Should Be Using One

Not bad, eh?

Seesmic

Moving on, next up is Seesmic.  I started using this client most recently and have been quite impressed, to say the least.

First, the positives:

  • Both desktop and web-based versions are available for use.
  • iPhone, iTouch, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 7 and Blackberry apps available.
  • Allows the user to manage unlimited twitter accounts for free.
    • Unlimited Facebook accounts available in web-version only.
  • Ability to schedule tweets and Facebook updates with ease in web-version.
  • Allows color, text-size, column type and column width customization.
  • Ability to save your searches.
  • Built in URL shortener.
  • KLOUT rating integrated into twitter feed via plugin.
  • Clean design and open interface.
    • Aggregates Facebook, Twitter and other accounts.
    • In-line image previews.
  • Easy integration with services like google reader, ebay, formspring, bing, foursquare, etc.
  • No promoted tweets in stream.
  • No sleep problem – always awake so updates are always streaming!
  • Translator feature allows you to translate messages within your timelines.

And of course, just as with Hootsuite, there are cons as well:

  • No built in statistics and reports are provided.
  • Can not use client to automatically publish your newest posts to twitter and Facebook.
    • This must be done via Ping.fm, which is owned by Seesmic.
  • Some features are only available in web-version and vice versa.
    • Scheduling of tweets/facebook posts can only be done via web-client for now.
    • Unlimited facebook accounts can only be added via web-client.
      • Only 1 Facebook Page can be added via desktop client.
    • Facebook Fan Pages can only be added via the desktop client.

Now, onto the Seesmic screenshots. First up is the Desktop Client:

social media blog improvement blog  Social Media Dashboard   Why You Should Be Using One

Seesmic Desktop Client. Notice the in-line image preview and KLOUT ratings

Again we have:

  1. My twitter homepage (notice the image preview and integrated KLOUT ratings.  I’m a big fan of each!)
  2. Twitter mentions of me.
  3. My sent tweets
  4. My Facebook home page.

Then we have the Seesmic Web-Based Client:

social media blog improvement blog  Social Media Dashboard   Why You Should Be Using One

Seesmic Web

Very similar look to the desktop client.  Clean design.

The iPhone app:

social media blog improvement blog  Social Media Dashboard   Why You Should Be Using One

Clean and simple. Can’t go wrong with that.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is the last client we are looking at today.  First, the good stuff:

  • Primarily a desktop client, although a version for Chrome also exists.
  • iPhone, iTouch, iPad and Android apps available for download.
  • Allows the user to manage unlimited twitter accounts for free.
  • Ability to schedule tweets/Facebook updates with ease.
  • Allows color, column type and column width customization.
  • Built in URL shortener.
  • Aggregates Facebook, Twitter and other accounts.
  • No promoted tweets in stream.
  • No sleep problem – always awake so updates are always live!
  • Translator feature allows you to translate messages within your timelines.

Cons:

  • Web-version of the client ONLY works with Chrome browser.
  • No built in statistics and reports are provided
  • Can not use client to automatically publish your newest posts to twitter and Facebook.
  • Only one Facebook Page can be added to Tweetdeck.
  • The interface is overly-crowded.
    • Makes it more difficult to manage and, in my opinion, somewhat unpleasant to look at.

The Tweetdeck screenshot:

social media blog improvement blog  Social Media Dashboard   Why You Should Be Using One

Tweetdeck Desktop Client

Note: I tried to add the same columns as in the other clients but couldn’t find a way to add tweets that had been sent by me.  That could be user-error, but it is something that is an issue with me.

The tweetdeck iphone app:

social media blog improvement blog  Social Media Dashboard   Why You Should Be Using One

Nice, clean app design.

Summary

OK, so I have shown you a bunch of screenshots and written a book about each clients pros and cons.  My guess is you might just be feeling a tad overwhelmed by it all if you’ve never used a program like this before.  Am I right?  If so, I have highlighted some of the most important points for you below.  These are the main things you should consider when deciding which of these clients, if any, is right for you:

social media blog improvement blog  Social Media Dashboard   Why You Should Be Using One

Hootsuite/Seesmic/Tweetdeck feature comparison

The Verdict

And the winner is… no one.

Yup.  No one.

Honestly, there is no one right answer here.  The client that is perfect for you may not be the best fit for me and vice versa.  We each have to determine which features we need most, and then decide which of these clients fits that need best.  With this post I hoped to provide enough comparison information so that you may decide which is best for you.

Personally?  I use Seesmic Desktop almost exclusively and as soon as they add the scheduling functionality to it it will be just about perfect for my needs.

When it comes to the mobile apps, I actually prefer Hootsuite’s interface.  There isn’t a huge reason for that – I just like the look and feel of it better on my iPhone 4.

So what about you?  Do you currently use one of these apps?  What are your pros/cons?

Or perhaps you use some other program that you adore?  If so, tell us about it in the comments please!

{ 37 comments… add one }

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    • Jakub Mach January 9, 2013, 5:23 AM

      I can also recommend you to check our solution ZoomSphere.com and its Engagement Console. See this video demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HTBpfObes0

      Reply
    • Kiril Varbanov April 23, 2012, 7:39 AM

      My personal experience with these:
      1. Hootsuite – I didn’t like it, mainly because I’ve had hard times differentiating when new twitter messages arrive.
      2. Tweetdeck – it has so many bugs that I simply wonder if it’s close to EOL. I haven’t got any response on my support tickets (3 or 4). Facebook account – not anymore.
      3. Seesmic – so far it seems the only possible candidate for someone who wants to have Twitter, Linked In and Facebook on the same place. This is invaluable – once or twice per day you visit only one place and get informed what’s happening in your networks.
      However, my personal preference would be to have one single mixed news stream, rather than having them separated, but I guess most of the people want them distinctively away from each other.

      Reply
    • Nakida April 16, 2012, 12:52 PM

      No GREMLN review?

      Reply
    • amy millard March 12, 2012, 2:21 PM

      Great info – What if I don’t have a twitter account though? I’ve been struggling to find something similar so I can easily update my person FB, FB business page, blog (under construction) and linkedin. Is there something out there for a user as myself?

      Reply
    • Non-techie Talk January 24, 2012, 10:11 AM

      Thanks for the review. Helps me know I’m using what’s right for me, which is Seesmic.

      I have seven Twitter accounts, plus FB. Seesmic is the only one that supports my keeping on top of all of them.
      Non-techie Talk latest blog post: Twitter drops the ball

      Reply
    • Karen Goodman January 20, 2012, 6:27 PM

      I’ve been using Tweetdeck from day 1, but really dislike the recent changes when it went from the yellow bird version to the blue bird version (when the company was sold). There were a number of features that are gone, and while the old Adobe Air version is still out there and works, it sometimes doesn’t pull all of my DMs and @s.

      I’ve found myself avoiding twitter since I switched to the new twitter versions (both web and Chrome app), so I’m in search of something new. I think I’m going to end up with Seesmic web. I just don’t like Hootsuite at all…I can’t really give you a reason it’s just a lot of little things. The Seesmic desktop client separates out my twitter list column onto a different tab than the rest of the columns, and that’s a problem for me.

      Being able to monitor and post updates to my Facebook page is a big deal for me, and you can’t do that on the new Tweetdeck too. Looks like I’ll be going with Seesmic for now.
      Karen Goodman latest blog post: Eating Healthy Recipe ~ Crock Pot Shredded Chicken

      Reply
    • Martin November 30, 2011, 12:23 PM

      Great piece on the social dashboards. I am currently using tweetdeck and am trying hootsuite but never heard of seesmic until now. U shoulda picked a winner and I suppose in some ways u did!!! Enjoyed nonetheless.
      Martin

      Reply
    • Andry Fixa November 11, 2011, 2:17 AM

      Nice info, just searching social media dashboard with analytics.

      Thanks

      Reply
    • Lynn Dye November 4, 2011, 3:21 PM

      Thanks so much for taking the time to do this comparison. I’m still undecided because there’s still not one just perfect for my needs–but this will help make a decision.

      Reply
    • John September 12, 2011, 11:56 PM

      I have been using an app called AutoTweeterPro for sometime. It’s a small & very easy-to-use software, which tweets from my computer. I am using unlimited trial version,which is as good as free. Hope you will find this tip useful –http://bit.ly/autotweeterPro1

      Reply
    • Gina August 12, 2011, 6:56 AM

      Thank you for such a well researched and insightful post. I have been using Hootsuite (free version). Once I got a taste of scheduling posts in their new calendar interface, I was hooked. Trouble is, the free trial only lasts until you can’t live without this feature anymore! Good news is, as you stated, the Pro version is only $5.99/mo. I feel confident in my decision after reading your well researched and impeccably presented analysis. Hootsuite it is. Thank you!

      Reply
    • Sarah June 15, 2011, 4:25 AM

      I’m trying to decide on a social media manager and I have it narrowed down to these three (of course)! This post was so helpful and informative. Thanks so much!

      Reply
    • Arash Mazinani April 10, 2011, 6:04 AM

      Great post I started out using tweetdeck and actually think it has the best design of them them all with an all black theme. I was then put onto hootsuite by yourself and V which I checked out. I actually think for android users tweetdeck has a much cleaner interface than hootsuite, however the hootsuite app on the ipad is gorgeous.

      A couple of features you missed out tweetdeck has now added the ability to post tweets longer than 140 characters.

      Hootsuite has threaded conversations… ie: in your ‘mentions’ column underneath the tweet will be a hyperlink you can click on to see the entire conversation you’ve been having with that person.

      tweetdeck has a feature (it’s hard to find) where if you type in ‘@’ then a list of all your followers drops below so it’s easier to find their twitter name to mention them.

      As far as I’m aware hootsuite doesn’t have that.

      Tweetdeck also has a live stream with popups which I found more helpful because while I was doing my stuff if someone tweeted something I could respond straight away. Now I have to go back and click into hootsuite to see what’s been said.

      I thought tweetdeck and hootsuite did have the ability to save searches? For example I have a stream for the searched term ‘Leeds Fashion’ is that not what you meant by saved searches?

      great article overrall I think seesmic sounds good but I prefer the look of the desktop client I may have to check it out still. As it looks like it covers most of what hootsuite does plus you have the live streaming.
      Arash Mazinani latest blog post: FBFF- My Top 5 Favourite Spring Summer Trends

      Reply
    • Bree @ The Blog Stylist April 6, 2011, 4:23 AM

      This is great! Seesmic is one of the few clients I haven’t tried, so I appreciate the info you’ve shared. I personally love Tweetdeck. I switched from HootSuite and haven’t looked back. I manage many Twitter accounts, and couldn’t do it any other way!
      Bree @ The Blog Stylist latest blog post: Ask the expert- Blog-writing tips by Sarah Ayoub Christie

      Reply
    • Lee Oliveira April 5, 2011, 11:22 AM

      Oh this is such a great wrap up of social media accounts. I started using tweetdeck until I found hootsuite and no I have dropped tweetdeck all together. I am really happy with hootsuite but the only thing with tweetdeck that I love more is that you can see a list of your recent followers in a created column. Houtsuite doesnt seem to have this. I havent really look into seesmic but I will definitely go check it out.

      Lee
      x

      Reply
    • Mulika April 4, 2011, 1:18 PM

      how useful a post! Well, I wasn’t using any until I read this but I think I am going to give Seesmic a try. It also sounds like they are all being tweaked all the time to serve us social media users better.

      Reply
    • LaCara April 4, 2011, 12:41 PM

      Thank you for this informative post! I don’t use a social media dashboard, but it looks like Seesmic is just right for me! Great post, and your blog is awesome too! :D

      Reply
    • Martin April 4, 2011, 9:54 AM

      Good list, I agree with most of the things you described. I still run Tweetdeck, because it looks very clean and Seesmic wasn’t able to deliver more than Tweetdeck, despite looking great. I am missing statistics, statistics, statistics! But the development team does a great job, I think in a year or two we may see a very interesting product…
      Martin latest blog post: Seesmic Social Media Client – Social Cluttering Done Right

      Reply
    • Aimee May 24, 2011, 5:40 AM

      Hey Martin,

      Not sure if this helps, but I’m a statistics fiend too. I use Seesmic and have a bit.ly account. You can get the bit.ly plugin for Seesmic and it’ll automatically use bit.ly to shorten your links for you. Then you can check your click-throughs, etc at your bit.ly homepage :) It’d be great if you could check them within Seesmic (maybe you can?) but for now, this is good for me!

      :)

      Reply
    • Jamillah April 4, 2011, 12:00 AM

      Wow-thank you for giving such an amazing overview. Really super thoughtful.

      I’m brand new to twitter and I find the platform incredibly confusing. JUST got on hootsuite and am enjoying the different breakdowns of my twitter activities.
      Jamillah latest blog post: Smile File- These Lips

      Reply
    • Jill Tiefel April 2, 2011, 6:55 PM

      I’ve been looking for a comparison such as this. Thanks for sharing your experiences with all three. I’m using Seesmic, but I’ve been a little frustrated in the last couple days because I can’t figure out how to schedule posts for the Facebook fan pages which I admin. It seems like there’s got to be a way!

      Reply
    • Jenmarie April 2, 2011, 12:25 PM

      This is such an informative post! As you know I just downloaded TweetDeck and have really been enjoying how convenient it is. I prefer something that I don’t have to do online since Twitter seems to work especially slow on my computer. TweetDeck works fast even with all my accounts which makes me very happy. This is one reason I wouldn’t even try Hootsuite and the fact that you are unable to download it for the PC. Seesmic seems nice but did you mean you can’t update your accounts via the application?

      Reply
    • Anika http://byanika.com April 1, 2011, 6:41 AM

      Thank you so much dear B for this great post. You break it down so well. I learned a lot reading this! I use Hootsuite (free version) and am mostly happy with that. I love that I can view streams and lists at the same time, it really helped me organize my Twitter universe and get even more connected. I hope your weekend will be wonderful sweetheart! Hugs!

      x Anika
      http://byanika.com
      @AnikaByAnika
      Anika http://byanika.com latest blog post: Friend Friday- Blogger etiquette – Paying it forward

      Reply
    • kristy March 31, 2011, 9:02 PM

      wonderfully informative post!

      i’ve been using hootsuite and haven’t even tried the others. but for twitter especially, it doesn’t suggest twitter handles of people i haven’t tweeted before, so i have to go into twitter and find the twitter handle first anyone. it kind of irritates me. honestly, if twitter had a url shortener built in, it would be perfect. i go to twitter and facebook individually anyway, so it doesn’t really bother me to just post things individually. you know?
      kristy latest blog post: soho- shopping &amp sunglasses

      Reply
    • Mrs Bossa March 31, 2011, 8:08 AM

      Great post, B! When I discovered Tweetdeck it was a revelation, and I prefer it both on my phone and on the web (but then again, I do use Chrome, and it looks a lot sleeker than the screenshot here). I don’t know how I got by without it – it’s made using Twitter tons easier. I do believe I groaned when I first used it… :) I found Hootsuite a bit messy, and Seesmic didn’t seem to offer anything more than Tweetdeck…though now I’ve realised it has no connection with Klout.
      Mrs Bossa latest blog post: Reflections

      Reply
    • Krystle March 31, 2011, 3:52 AM

      Wow, this is a great post! Thank you SO MUCH for this information!! I have been curious about an app like this, but I wasn’t sure where to even begin! oh, one thing though, I have the newest Blackberry through Tmobile and I cannot find Hootsuite anywhere in the AppWorld. Just and fyi. I tried a few different ways to search it too. Will you let me know how you found this on BB, please? Thanks so much!!

      Krys

      FierceFabulousFit
      FierceFabulousFitFacebook
      @FierceFabFit
      Krystle latest blog post: Oooh La-La-Lace!

      Reply
    • Bella Q March 31, 2011, 12:23 AM

      I tried HootSuite and WANTED to like it, but it was a bit awkward for me and I didn’t like the look terribly much. Then it interfered with my already app’d iPhone, and I like the twitter better on the twitter ap, and I can’t even remember now but I didn’t like it in the 1st 15 minutes so uninstalled it from my phone.
      As for on the laptop- yeah, still not sold on the performance although I love the idea.
      the Citizen Rosebud
      Bella Q latest blog post: outfit post- Pillar Box Red

      Reply
    • Madison March 30, 2011, 11:26 PM

      Excellent post B! I’ve only used Tweetdeck/hootsuite but will be checking out Seesmic, I know many people who like Hootsuite… maybe I’ll try them all since I do a lot via mobile these days. Thanks for this very helpful post. -xxoo

      Madison
      Madison latest blog post: Pardon Me- Do You Have the Time

      Reply
    • Heather Fonseca March 30, 2011, 11:14 PM

      Well it looks like I’m going to have to get hootesuite! Thanks so much for this post. I’ve been hearing about these sorts of things but it seems like I’ve signed up for so many things that have turned out to be just OK and that I never use. I feel like I’ve got a breadcrumb trail all over the web…

      Reply
    • GRIT & GLAMOUR March 30, 2011, 10:06 PM

      Great post B! I know it will be in LALM tech next week!

      I’ve really enjoyed the many benefits of Hootsuite, but it does have refresh issues and some other tech problems. I prefer it over Tweetdeck, but maybe Seesmic is worth a try! I couldn’t live without the scheduling, that I know. With a full-time job, it makes personal tweeting possible.
      GRIT & GLAMOUR latest blog post: WVW- KORSAZRIAGUCCI

      Reply
    • Elle March 30, 2011, 9:22 PM

      Thanks for the rundown B! I definitely learned a lot. I removed my blog FB after less than an hour because FB was seriously frustrating me with trying to verify my account with the same phone number as my personal page. It wouldn’t let me, s oI was just spam and had to write in a spam box EVERY TIME. so that said, all i have is twitter. I was using hootesuite but honestly for just one site it’s a lot easier for me to just go to twitter.
      Elle latest blog post: Friend Friday- Feminist Chic!

      Reply
    • Heidi March 30, 2011, 9:18 PM

      I think social media networks are vital to networking and getting your blog out there. I haven’t tried any of these but Tweetdeck sounds like a good thing to use. Thanks for the info, great overview of the cons and pros! :)
      Heidi latest blog post: The First Day It Feels Like Spring!

      Reply
    • Marissa March 30, 2011, 7:09 PM

      B, you’re amazing. I wanted an explanation of HootSuite, and you did me one better. It actually sounds like Seesmic would be the best choice for me, and I never would have considered it before. As always when you or Vahni post something like this, though, I’m equal parts grateful and overwhelmed. I feel like I have so much to do to get on my game – the most important thing being to finally start a Facebook fan page! I’ve been resisting for so long (I was trying to keep FB for solely personal use), but I know I need to bite the bullet. Thank you so much for explaining all of this! Can I nominate you for your own Link Love with a Twist?
      Marissa latest blog post: Interior Inspiration- Paint it Black

      Reply
    • Casee Marie March 30, 2011, 6:59 PM

      Epic. You better submit this to IFB’s new LALM Tech thingy.

      I honestly don’t use a client for day-to-day social networking, but that’s something I’d like to change. I have aspirations of being a social networking maven. But in the meantime, I’ve only been using them for Twitter parties/livestreams, that sort of thing (such as Evolving Influence, during which I used Hootsuite). Now with more ongoing hashtags such as #FTFCommunity I’d like to start using a client to better participate and make sure I don’t miss anything. The Seesmic I was using was just the web version, but the desktop version seems like it might be well-suited for me. I can’t imagine how long this took you and every single detail is incredibly helpful, so thank you!

      P.S. You have my blog post open in the Seesmic web screenshot! Hee, sorry, that made me happy.

      Reply
    • Fabienne Jach March 30, 2011, 6:23 PM

      Ok, seriously, I think my brain is going to explode, I just learned so much today. You are rockin’ my world! What a useful post. Really, really useful!
      xo,
      f
      The House in the Clouds
      Fabienne Jach latest blog post: Spring has sprung

      Reply
    • Fashnlvr March 30, 2011, 6:19 PM

      This is a fabulous post! Clear and concise information that bloggers need. I had never even thought about social media dashboard. You really have explained it well. So well in fact that I now have to go and figure out which one to get! I think perhaps Seesmic may be the one for me based on your facts above.
      Thanks for this post – I learned tons!
      http://www.fashnlvr.blogspot.com
      Fashnlvr latest blog post: Spring Fabric Sewn Up

      Reply
    • myheartblogged March 30, 2011, 6:17 PM

      Seriously the most helpful post on this for me. I have been so confused about clients like this, and i spend so much time jumping between sites!
      myheartblogged latest blog post: Blogs from the heart Laughing With Broken Eyes

      Reply