Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have let anyone say a bad word about HootSuite. As someone who needed to manage multiple Twitter accounts and didn’t want to keep signing in and out of Twitter.com, it was perfect. I’d tried TweetDeck but found that I preferred HootSuite (incidentally, it seems to be a bit of a Marmite thing: I know some people who are the opposite and who love TweetDeck and hate HootSuite – each to their own, I suppose)!
The best thing about HootSuite? It’s free! Sure, there’s a PRO version available, but the free version is plenty handy. I recommended it to quite a few people I know, who also seemed to find it very useful.
(I also adore HootSuite’s branding. I LOVE that owl, and the fact that they have so many different versions of it, which they even use for Twitter. In doing a bit of research for this article, I discovered that there are even Plush Owly’s, which are OMGsoawesome, but I digress…)
However, recently their iOS updates (for the iPhone and iPad) have had a few issues: updates intended to fix various bugs would themselves have a few bugs in them. I have also come across an error message (I think it’s called the “NSURE” error or something?) that won’t allow you to send a tweet. It used to give you the option to retry, which would allow you to at least copy and paste the content of the tweet to repost elsewhere, but recently it won’t even let you do that, meaning that you risk losing the tweet’s content altogether and have to retype it again elsewhere!
Frustrated, my buddy @Nonentity of yourleft.net recommended Tweetbot. Given my frugal ways, my immediate scepticism kicked it: it’s a paid app. When I hear that something’s paid (when it has free alternatives), I react pretty much the same way Napoleon does in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (watch from the 1:05 mark).
However, I decided to give it a try for the iPhone (£1.99 or $2.99 as I type this) and do you know what? Worth. Every. Penny.
Here are my favourite things about Tweetbot:
(Note: I imagine most people reading this might be HootSuite users who are considering Tweetbot, so I’ll assume that you know how HootSuite works and therefore mostly focus on Tweetbot’s features.)
Layout changes for other people’s tweets vs. your tweets
As you can see from the screenshot, when viewing your main Home Feed, your tweets are presented differently, with your image on the right instead of the left. I thought this was a nice touch, making it easier to differentiate between people’s tweets, especially when you’re trying to catch up and you have been a bit busy with the tweets and/or @mentions yourself.
HootSuite users will know that HS does something similar, by changing the tweet background colours (yellow for your tweets; green for @mentions), but I personally feel that Tweetbot’s solution looks neater while still making it obvious to the user whose tweets are whose.
Thumbnail previews for pictures and videos
I also like the fact that pictures and videos show thumbnails alongside the tweets, so that you can glance at their content without having to see the tweets’ details. In HootSuite, one would have to click onto the tweet to see a preview and then the link again to see it fully, adding an additional click (or tap) for the user.
Note: So far I have noticed that HootSuite doesn’t necessarily preview pic.twitter.com images (Twitter.com’s uploaded images – probably a conspiracy)! However, unfortunately Tweetbot isn’t exactly perfect, as it doesn’t preview ow.ly images (HootSuite’s uploaded images – probably also a conspiracy)!
Receive notifications of new @mentions or DMs
Although HootSuite is meant to do this (showing a number corresponding to the number of unread tweets next to each row on the main Streams page), it never seems to work for me.
Tweetbot highlights the bottom buttons blue if there are new tweets, which also applies if you’ve received new @mentions and DMs. Very handy, particularly if you’ve disabled email notifications and do not receive any other type of alert or notification when someone tweets you directly.
Customise the bottom buttons
I also like the fact that some of the buttons at the bottom can be customised. The last 2 (out of 5) can be changed if tapped and held, and then another feature can be shown instead.
For example, instead of my profile…
…I could change it to my Favourites instead…
Admittedly, you can do this in HootSuite as well, but you either have to navigate back to the Streams page or flick left or right, which I find to be a bit more clunky, if that makes sense.
Tweetbot’s downsides are few and far between. The only potential issue I’ve come across so far – which is probably a case of me being silly than anything wrong with the app – is that when I tried to upload an image, it didn’t then show the shortened URL for the image (like it does in HootSuite), so I was concerned that it might send the tweet without the image link. A bit confusing, but I’m sure it’s fine – I’ll have to give it a go sometimes and see what happens.
So I guess this post was more of a review of Tweetbot than a full-on comparison between the two, but as a long-time user and advocate HootSuite, I was pleasantly surprised with Tweetbot. So much so, that I recently purchased it for the iPad.
Now if you don’t mind, I have an iPad version of Tweetbot to play with…