Why I Use Tweetdeck (and You Should Too)

Why I Use Tweetdeck (and You Should Too)

Update (Jan. 2012): Since Twitter acquired Tweetdeck, a “new Tweetdeck” has surfaced. No, don’t get too excited. With low rankings on the Mac Store and mediocre reviews, the new version is not as welcome as the original. Sure, “new Tweetdeck” dropped the memory hog that is Adobe Air and it’s prettier to look at, but it lacks several key features of the original e.g., mousing over an avatar for options, clearing columns in one click, and including hashtags automatically when @replying. Because of these changes (and many more), I’m sticking with the “old Tweetdeck,” the version discussed in depth below. You may download it here along with Adobe Air.


I’m writing this post primarily with my film students in mind, but I would argue the same for non-students.

From what I can tell, most of my film students — who are required to use Twitter this semester — are turning to the Web to tweet. Since this is where they began their tweeting experience (i.e., signing up, creating a class hashtag search), I suppose it’s only natural that they would return to the Web. However, as I’ve tried to explain to them in previous posts, there are so many easier, more user-friendly ways to check one’s Twitter account. One of those is Tweetdeck.

I’ve played around with most of the popular Twitter clients: Web-based ones like Hootsuite, Brizzly, and CoTweet; browser add-ons such as Echofon and Chromed Bird; and desktop programs like Seesmic, Twhirl, and Sobees. But it’s Tweetdeck to which I keep returning. Here’s why:

Simple and Fast!

According to its website, Tweetdeck is the “simplest and fastest way to experience Twitter.” I can’t disagree.

  • Download Tweetdeck (along with Adobe Air) in 30 seconds.
  • Open the program and key in your Twitter username and password.
  • Three columns are created automatically: All Friends (your home feed), Mentions, and Direct Messages.

You’re ready to tweet. See, simple and fast.

See Lots o’ Searches

For the purpose of class tweeting, students need to follow a course hashtag, e.g., #introfilm, #introfilmDL, #critapp. As a result, they will need to add a fourth column to their Tweetdeck. To do so, they would click on the plus sign in the top left-hand corner, type their course hashtag in the search box, and click search. Done. (NOTE: Unused columns may be deleted easily by clicking on the Twitter icon at the top of the column.)

This multi-column function is of course beneficial for all sorts of other non class-related functions as well. For instance, I have a search set up just for Gene Kelly (yeah, that’s right) and another for the hashtag #smcedu, which represents an organization that meets online once/week to explore the effects of new media on education. Also, when I live-tweet events like the Golden Globes or the Oscars, I create a “list column” for those who live-tweet with me. The possibilities are endless, I’m tellin’ ya.

You Won’t Forgot That Hashtag!

Tweetdeck will automatically include hashtags in a reply. This is a helpful feature for beginning Tweeters who aren’t yet used to including hashtags in their tweets. To activate this feature: Settings > Twitter > Auto include hashtags when replying.

Reply All

Unlike the Web, Tweetdeck allows users to reply to multiple people at one time. For instance, if you’d like to respond to everyone mentioned in the tweet on the right — @JenHughes2009, @rbottogross, and @reliand — you would simply mouse over the avatar/picture, click the star icon > Tweet > Reply All. Again, you cannot do this if you’re tweeting from the Web. Useful feature!

New vs. Old Tweets

When I check tweets from the Web (and several other clients), I’m annoyed that I can’t tell the difference between tweets I’ve read and new ones. There’s no color coding, no darkened horizontal line, nothing that defines the new from the old. But with Tweetdeck, all I need to do is click the trash can (Clear All) icon at the bottom of the column; tweets that I’ve read are now cleared, and the column is ready for new posts. No more confusion!

Facebook Support

Yep, those on Facebook may receive and reply to all their Facebook updates within Tweetdeck; they don’t even have to visit facebook.com anymore if they don’t want to. To add a Facebook account: Settings (wrench at top right-hand corner) > Accounts > Add New Account. (You’ll see here that you can also add additional Twitter accounts.)

Tweetdeck features many other useful functions (e.g., opening videos/pictures within the deck, automatically shrinking URLs, uploading pictures, marking favorites), but it is the above which I think my students would find most helpful. What about you? Do you use a client other than Tweetdeck? Is there another one that you would advise students to try?