I love HootSuite. And no they're not paying me to say that. But it's a tool I've been using for more than two years now, and even though I've been looking, I have found no better tool to manage all of my social media networks.
I'll never forget when I first started using HootSuite, I told a former co-worker about it and she asked, "What's it called? TootSuite?" And surprisingly she was not over the age of 30, but HootSuite was still relatively new back then so I can't give her too much trouble over it. Still pretty funny though. :)
TweetDeck, or any aggregator, is an application that allows you to view and post to all of your social media accounts in one place. You can add Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Google Buzz accounts, as well as customized searches, that will appear in individual columns. TweetDeck also allows you to add links, shorten links and tweets, attach media files, and includes all of the basic Facebook and Twitter features. This is really convenient when you want to check all accounts without having to open and close each app or Web site. It is also really convenient when you want to post the same information to multiple accounts simultaneously. You can also schedule posts to go out at specific dates and times in the future.
Everything she said about TweetDeck is the same for HootSuite, with the exception that HootSuite can also sync WordPress, Ping.fm and mixi (Japan's biggest social network) accounts.
As Andrea said, the obvious benefits of TweetDeck/HootSuite are being able to manage multiple social networks at once, and being able to schedule them out ahead of time. That makes it easier for me on days when I know I'm going to be away from my desk or out of the office and something very time sensitive (whether it's about an event or a deadline) needs to be posted on Facebook/Twitter.
Here's a screenshot of my HootSuite account (click on it to make it larger):
And here are the quick analytics HootSuite offers:
There are a few differences between TweetDeck and HootSuite, and the two main ones for me are:
- HootSuite is a web-based application, so you can access it anywhere, anytime.
- HootSuite tracks analytics on any links you shorten through their application.
Like TweetDeck, HootSuite also as a mobile application which is very useful.
Honestly, I'm not trying to "sell" HootSuite over TweetDeck, but I do recommend using some kind of social networking managing service/tool, especially if you are operating several different accounts. It just makes life easier!