One of my favorite things to do is to test out new products.  And, last week, I gave a try at the Twitter tool “HootSuite“.  At first glance, I thought this was one of the better Twitter tools out there because there were lots of value added resources available through the product.  But, once I jumped in and started testing it (on an unsuspecting group of followers), well, there were problems that were quickly pointed out to me.

First, a little background:
While having lunch with the other two geeks last week, Lisa mentioned that she was looking at HootSuite, and that she’d heard good things about it, and even folks like Guy Kawasaki were using it to help them Twitter throughout the day.  Although, I’m certainly no Guy Kawasaki, I too, like a good Twitter tool that will help me manage the moderate number of followers and friends I have.  So, I sat down Thursday night and gave it a go.
The Good:
HootSuite has a lot of nice features to help you manage one or more Twitter accounts.
  • Multiple Editors:
    If you’re a Twitter Stud like Guy Kawasaki, you can add additional editors to your HootSuite Login, and still maintain privacy of your own Twitter password.  So, you can have people help feed to your Twitter followers, but still prevent they rouge editor from changing your password and hijacking your account.

  • Share a Business Twitter Account:
    With Multiple Editors, you can have a “business” Twitter account, and have your employees Tweet information as needed.  So, if your law firm has a Twitter account, you can share the responsibility of Tweeting and answering Tweets among the staff.  Perhaps having one person Tweeting your events and publications, while another answers any replies or Direct Messages you may receive.  Come to think of it, this would work really well for a Politician that has a Twitter account and needs to make sure he or she is on top of everything.

  • Manage Multiple Twitter Accounts:
    Got a personal and a business Twitter account?  HootSuite allows you to manage all of them in one place.  Switching back and forth, or posting to all of your Tweets via the HootSuite Dashboard.  This is a great convenience if you have ever had to go back and forth from one account to the other.  And, if you’ve ever accidentally posted a personal tweet on your business account by mistake, this could help save you that embarrassment in the future.

  • Schedule Tweets:
    I’m constantly finding a lot of good resources out there, but I don’t want to necessarily Tweet all of them within a 10 minute period of time.  Or, I find them at 3:00 AM and I want to discuss them with my 10:00 AM Twitter friends (although, I still love all of my Aussie Twitter Mates.)  This also works if you are scheduling an event, and would like to send out periodic Tweets reminding people that the event is coming up.   There are lots of Twitter Elites out there that schedule their Tweets throughout the day.  HootSuite makes it pretty easy to set it up and send it out later.

  • Monitor Who Is Clicking on Your Tweet Links:
    NOTE:  I’ll give the good on this one here, but be warned, there are a lot of folks out there that do not like this part.
    If you ever wonder if anyone ever really goes to the links you Tweet about, then HootSuite has a way to do that for you.  HootSuite uses “ow.ly” to shorten the URLs, but it also uses it as a monitor for click-thru’s and feedback options.  On the surface, this sounds like a great tool.  It is nice being able to see that 83 people clicked on your link to the blog you mentioned.  In addition, people can vote their positive or negative reaction to the link in the OW.LY frame that surrounds the web page you Tweeted about.  So, in a way it is like a mini Google Analytics program for your Tweets.  You can even add your Google Adsense code to your HootSuite account, and generate revenue from your Tweet Links.

  • Save Keyword Searches:
    Got some key terms you like to search?  Well, HootSuite allows you to save some of those keyword searches and retrieve them at the click of a button.  This is pretty convenient to have included with all the other resources found on HootSuite.

  • Easy To Navigate Dashboard
    The HootSuite Dashboard is set up with tabs for you “Home”, “@Replies”, “DM’s”, etc.  Pretty easy to use, and similar looking to the Twitter.com homepage, so there’s not a big learning curve involved.
The Bad:
  • Just Who Am I Tweeting To Anyway??
    None of us like to be fooled, or made to believe we are communicating with one person, when in reality, it is someone else.  This goes for the fake Brittney Spears twit, as well as the big personalities on Twitter that use ghost writers to tweet for them.  So, if you are one of those folks that has the money to pay people to Tweet for you, just make sure that people understand that is how you set things up.  

  • The Whole “OW.LY” Thing….
    Alright, this is the big one.  
    I barely got my first test Tweet out on HootSuite when someone called me out for “annoying” if not “illegal” framing of web content.  Now, I confess that I didn’t realize what OW.LY was doing until after I had sent out the Tweet, so I was pretty ignorant of the drawbacks of using OW.LY as my URL shrinker.  At first glance, the frame is a little annoying, but also a little useful.  So, I had a nice little discussion with Doug Cornelius about the benefits.  Whereas I thought HootSuite’s ability to gather statistics and feedback could be a benefit to the person Tweeting the link —  Doug thought it was something close to the incarnation of Satan himself (okay, I’m being a little over dramatic on Doug’s response… but, not that far off!)  

    After looking at the positives and the negatives, I decided that framing of other people’s content really isn’t a great idea.  It is annoying for one, and it borders on the unethical for another.  I would ask the folks at HootSuite to give the users of their product an option to use a non-framing version of OW.LY that would still gather the metrics of who did the click-thru, without annoying the hell out of them!!

    As for the putting Google Adsense code on OW.LY to generate revenue from your Tweets, I’d have to say that would not be something that I would do, or recommend.  Some may argue that people would not have gone to these websites if it were not for your Tweets, but I’d have to say that there seems to be a certain sliminess about that type of revenue generating that I do not like.  

  • Good Lord!!  Are You Always on Twitter???
    I mentioned to a friend of mine one day that it seems that people we knew are spending all of their time on Twitter.  He laughed and said, “No.  They only spend half of the day on Twitter.  The other half they are on LinkedIn trying to find more connections.”
    Do I really need a scheduled tweet from you every 15 minutes?  Does the scheduling of Tweets take away from the “social” part of the social network platform?  Eh..  perhaps.  I’d say as long as you don’t overdue it, use it.
HootSuite offers a lot of valuable Twitter resources for those of us that like to Tweet a lot or have multiple accounts.  The ability to get metrics out of our Tweets has value too, but we have to be cognizant of the problems that the frame method that OW.LY employs.  At this time, I don’t think that framing is the way to go.  Again, if you can get some stats without the frames, that would be an excellent resource.
I still like the overall benefits that HootSuite gives you.  My suggestion would be to try it, but not use it in a way that would annoy or offend those that will see your tweets.
Got comments??  Put them below.  Or, you can follow me on Twitter at @glambert and let me know what you think about HootSuite or any other resource you’d like reviewed.

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Photo of Greg Lambert Greg Lambert

Librarian-Lawyer-Knowledge Management-Competitive Analysis-Computer Programmer…. I’ve taken the Renaissance Man approach to working in the legal industry and have found it very rewarding. My Modus Operandi is to look at unrelated items and create a process that can tie those items together. The overall…

Librarian-Lawyer-Knowledge Management-Competitive Analysis-Computer Programmer…. I’ve taken the Renaissance Man approach to working in the legal industry and have found it very rewarding. My Modus Operandi is to look at unrelated items and create a process that can tie those items together. The overall goal is to make the resulting information better than the individual parts that make it up.