More than a third of all tweets are sent by people visiting Twitter’s default Web client. Which is too bad, because Twitter, as a website, is by far the least effective way to use Twitter as a network.

But even though just about any third-party client will provide you with a better way to use Twitter, picking the client that’s right for you can be daunting. Should you install a client or use one that runs in your browser? Which features are really necessary? Should you pay for any of these services?

I typically prefer browser-based clients because I think its easier to move between browser windows than separate programs, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at an installed client with a really great feature set just for that. The best client for you is the one that fits your workflow — if you really need to be able to schedule tweets to be effective and a client doesn’t give you that option, then it’s the wrong service for you, even if everyone else loves it.

As far as paying for these services, I say hold onto your money for now. Paid clients are really only necessary if you need to manage a large number of accounts or users, or if you want integrated analytics. Most people are going to be able to get by just fine with free software. If, after a few months, you find yourself aching for a feature that no free program offers, then you may want to revisit the issue — but not until you’re absolutely sure it’s necessary.

Clients are constantly updating their features, so today’s hot clients could easily be replaced by competitors. It’s worth trying out a new client (or giving an old one a second shot) every so often, just to see what’s out there. Switching between free clients is easy, since all your lists, tweets and direct messages are backed up by Twitter, not by these third-party services.

To get you started, here’s a rundown of some of the more poplar clients out there. I’ve purposely left out mobile clients, Mac-only clients and paid versions of clients — those will each require their own posts down the line.

  • Hootsuite, a browser-based client, comes in both free and paid versions and allows you to post to several popular networks, not just Twitter. It’s functionality isn’t especially deep, but it’s fairly intuitive. You can set up a variety of columns listing your timeline, your posts, mentions, etc. It’s easy to monitor several aspects of your social presence this way. Users can schedule posts, attach images and use a built-in link shortener.
  • TweetDeck can either be installed or run through Google’s Chrome browser. TweetDeck’s interface can be a little daunting at first, but with a little practice it can be an exceptionally powerful tool. It uses a multi-column format and boasts a number of really swanky features, including the ability to to automatically shorten any link you paste into its update window. Multimedia is a focus, as posting photo and video to your Facebook accounts is just as easy as posting a link to Twitter using this service. The client also has a translation feature, but I’d be cautious about entrusting my tweets to a machine’s ability to transliterate idioms.
  • Seesmic comes in both browser-based and installed flavors. Its features are plug-in based, so it can be easily customized. The default version can seem a little basic — especially since it lacks the ability to schedule updates. The user-interface is very clean, however, and makes a great stepping stone from the default Twitter client to some of the more advanced fare.
  • CoTweet is trying to carve out a niche as the platform of choice for accounts that are managed by several people. It lets users assign tasks to each other, so that no work gets duplicated or left behind. And the ability to forward a tweet via e-mail could be useful for situations in which you want a boss’s feedback before responding to a contentious tweet or direct message.
  • Echofon is great if you want a lightweight client and you use Firefox. Echofon runs right in the browser as a plugin, rather than a separate window. It lacks some of the bells and whistles that many of the other services on this list provide, but it’s simple, clean and it stays out of your way.
  • Twhirl is probably your best best for a lightweight client if you prefer installed clients or if you’re not a Firefox user. Again, the functionality isn’t too deep, but it’s crisp and clean and easy to use.
  • Slipstream is still in beta, but the site’s focus on helping make Twitter more manageable is laudable. Better query technology is something every client should be investing in.
  • BirdHerd takes a different approach to managing multiple accounts by allowing you to use direct messages from one account to control several others. While it’s not as intuitive as some other systems, it could prove more efficient if you’re working with a large number of accounts all day long.
  • Brizzly is the Twitter client for people who miss Google Wave. Users can create “picnics” — private conversations between multiple users that can integrate multimedia and be split off into side chats. Sound familiar?

Of course, that list is far from exhaustive. Did I leave your favorite client off the list? Is there anything else I should have pointed out about the the services I did mention?

What’s your favorite Twitter client? Why?

Image Credit: -Antonio-, via iStock Photo

Related Posts

41 Responses to “How to choose the Twitter client that's right for you”

  1. Steve Cocheo says:

    I'm far from an Power Tweeter, but this looked useful enough to print out for a detailed read.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John McTigue, Hot Rod Guitar Jet and others. Hot Rod Guitar Jet said: How to Choose the Right Twitter Client http://bit.ly/esSycz [...]

  3. Aaron Lintz says:

    Rise, wash, repeat, recycle old article and call it new. If you do this for a living, how about writing something worth reading instead of scanning. Advertisers like when people spend time on the website…right?

    • jstanchak says:

      Hey Aaron,

      We have a pretty diverse readership here, from people who found about social media yesterday to people who have been using social networks for years — and we try to provide something for everybody. I know I'm not the first person ever to write about Twitter clients, but it's a topic that can be difficult for new users to wrap their heads around — especially because the field is constantly changing. That's why I included clients such as Echofan and Brizzly that aren't well known and offer pretty distinct experiences.Sorry this one didn't work for you. Come back another day and we'll have something totally different.

      – Jesse

  4. @carolhagen says:

    You have missed the Tweeting solution that lets you brand your tweets and has great Facebook functionality too…MarketMeSuite.

    • jstanchak says:

      Carol — Nifty. I'll have to keep that one in mind whenever we get around to running something on clients that cost money.

  5. I really like MarketMeSuite (http://goo.gl/a98m0). Best bang for my buck: Lets me manage multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and RSS feeds. Integrates with my Bit.ly Pro and for custom URL shortening and hooks into other services too, like Ping.fm, too. It has all of the automation features like scheduling Tweets/Posts, autoreply, and all that. Best of all: it lets me brand my Tweets and posts, so I get that coveted, all-important backlink to my site, blog, Facebook Page, wherever I want.
    My recent post Updated- The Entrepreneurial Itch by Jessica D Chapman

  6. Thank you for the article. I use chromed bird extention for the chrome browser. There is also a chrome app for tweetdeck that I have been trying out. Our desktops are locked down so installed From my blackberry I use ubertwitter.

    I would be interested to hear from others about their experience with tweetchat or alternatives for twitter based group chats. I use tweetchat from home but the url is blocked on our network at the office.
    Best wishes for the new year

  7. @smallact says:

    Small Act's product, Thrive, is built for nonprofits. It helps you schedule posts and manage multiple account inboxes in one streamlined format, plus it gives you social CRM tools to help you effectively manage multiple relationships. You can learn more by visiting our website or calling us at 703-286-0875.

  8. @KristenDeem says:

    I love Hootsuite. I find it's the most useful for me, managing multiple accounts, across several social networking services. the layout is easy to use, and I use the stats for weekly reports. It also has a great app for my Android phone.

  9. Adrian Eden says:

    Web twitter using a proxy server is best for SEO.
    My recent post Introduction to the Yaletown Blog

  10. @wibconnect says:

    I'm a Hootsuite fan and love it for it's simplicity and functionality, plus the ability to upgrade when managing multiple accounts.
    My recent post Put Your Best Tweet Forward- How to Schedule Tweets for Maximum Exposure

  11. Adam Stanecki says:

    I've previously used Seesmic & TweetDeck but now I use HootSuite exclusively. I used the free version for a while but now pay for the service. It was the first platform I found that incorporated RSS feeds, scheduling and standard update functionality. Now I don't need other services like ping.fm, TwitterFeed and TwitterLive. It's made everything a lot simpler for me.
    My recent post 7 books that could change your life

  12. @slipstre_am says:

    Slipstream founder here. Thanks for mentioning us! Our latest prototype works directly on top of Twitter.com and simply adds a "Hide" link to the end of every tweet. Here's a sneak peek: http://bit.ly/gHJs3k

  13. @VYFCT says:

    It's HootSuite all the way for me! Thanks for providing this list (even if it is "again") Jesse – there are new readers and new users coming online all the time so I agree it's good to "recycle" such useful information for those folks… and kudos to you for your classy response to the earlier comment…

  14. Hi! Our PR firm loves MediaFunnel.com – we've been using it for over a year and really find it useful for collaborative posting and they continue to add new very useful functionality. The intuitive dashboard lets you post to Facebook & Twitter, include images, schedule tweets/posts for specific times or for an interval, includes Klout metrics and Salesforce integration, alerts, monitoring and lots more. Easy to use. Free for two users, and the fee based one is extremely reasonable ($1 per user, no limits, 30 day free trial). Full disclosure: MediaFunnel was a client for first half of 2010; we used their beta product for a couple months before they came on board and we continue to rely on them a year later. (Tried several competitors so we'd know what we were talking about!) – JDF
    My recent post 7 Tips to Get More Twitter Followers

  15. Hi! Our PR firm loves MediaFunnel.com – we've been using it for over a year and really find it useful for collaborative posting and they continue to add new very useful functionality. The intuitive dashboard lets you post to Facebook & Twitter, include images, schedule tweets/posts for specific times or for an interval, includes Klout metrics and Salesforce integration, alerts, monitoring and lots more. Easy to use. Free for two users, and the fee based one is extremely reasonable ($1 per user, no limits, 30 day free trial). Full disclosure: MediaFunnel was a client for first half of 2010; we used their beta product for a couple months before they came on board and we continue to rely on them a year later. (Tried several competitors so we'd know what we were talking about!) – JDF
    My recent post 7 Tips to Get More Twitter Followers

  16. I'm a Social Media Manager for a nonprofit and I use Hootsuite. I find it so effective because I can manage monitor my twitter lists, keywords, schedule tweets and updates for Facebook and LinkedIN. I encourage our volunteers to use it as well.

  17. [...] SmartBlog on Social Media – Best Practices and Case Studies on Social Media Marketing for Busi… [...]

  18. Shane Birley says:

    Typo on Seesmic. You have "Seemic".

    Good summary, though.

  19. It’s Hootsuite for me. I tried TeetDeck when I 1st became a twitter user. It was all new & seemed a little complicated at the time. discovered Hootsuite a few months ago & use it almost exclusively. It’s an awesome tool!

    Thanks for this post!

  20. @jsanderstn says:

    I use Tweetie on the Mac, and HootSuite on my windows machine at work. Each is the perfect solution for it's platform.

  21. [...] Which Twitter program is right for you? [...]

  22. Vivek Parmar says:

    hootsuite+tweetdeck+sesmic i like to use and tweetdeck is most powerful of them
    My recent post Make Money By Author Advertising WordPress Plugin

  23. @djmarsh says:

    sorry– perhaps I should dig deeper, but is there a solid, similar article about facebook clients? or, these clients with a facebook (fan)page + posting focus?

    • jstanchak says:

      Hey DJ –

      Actually, you can use HootSuite, TweetDeck Brizzly and Seesmic to manage Facebook as well as Twitter. Though it's pretty clear which network those clients were designed for.

      Scrapboy and Fishbowl are two popular clients that are focused on Facebook. You could also try using RockMelt, which is a pretty cool web browser that links to your Twitter and Facebook accounts via sidebars.

      Hope that helps.

  24. @jsanderstn I've been using Hootsuite on the Mac, but I'll look into Tweetie. Thanks for the tip.
    @jstanchak, motivational speakers make a career out of reminding us of what we already know or have heard before, but have little or no time to cultivate. In the same respect, there is so much information floating around on the various social media tools/clients, reminders and reviews of select favorites are welcome and appreciated. Keep up the great posts.

  25. @filos says:

    You missed the "new kid" in town, Twimbow.com. Please check http://oneforty.com/item/twimbow for reviews and see http://blog.twimbow.com for more info.

    If you need an invitation, please reply to this comment with your Twitter username and make sure to follow Twimbow on Twitter (invitation arrives by DM)

    Thanks,

    Luca Filigheddu
    CEO, Twimbow.com

  26. Peter Wyro says:

    Yep, we love the premium version of hootsuite, too. We manage many clients through their service, although we recommend that our clients use cotweet for blogging from the group.

  27. @dennisl says:

    You've completely overlooked users with limited technology (such as lowband; broken mouse; no JavaScript) and users with disabilities. For that, you need Accessible Twitter. Works great in modern browsers, and also works with examples above, and with IE6, a text-only browser, and a Kindle. http://www.AccessibleTwitter.com

  28. S Emerson says:

    I use the desktop versions of TweetDeck and Seemic.

    Prefer the fact that you can avoid saving passwords in Seemic where as in TweetDeck you can't anymore. (security)

    TweetDeck is definately has a flashery interface than Seemic though.
    My recent post Which Blogging Software to Use

  29. Digby says:

    I use tweetdeck for work purposes and it does a great job, just feel that t
    It could be so much better with a few small tweaks, like having different tabs for different accounts rather than showing them all on the same screen?

  30. [...] werden oder aber – so wie ich es tue – über ein Social Media-Client. Einige sagen Twitter-Client dazu, andere vielleicht abhängig vom Leistungsumfang Social Media Monitoring Tools. Ich nutze [...]

  31. [...] I typically prefer browser-based clients because I think its easier to move between browser windows than separate programs, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at an installed client with a really great feature set just for that. The best client for you is the one that fits your workflow — if you really need to be able to schedule tweets to be effective and a client doesn’t give you that option, then it’s the wrong service for you, even if everyone else loves it. via smartblogs.com [...]

Leave a Reply