October 17, 2011

Best Twitter dashboards for nonprofits

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Twitter clients
Image by Joe Pemberton on Flickr

Choose one of these 7 tools to improve your Twitter workflow

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, businesses, brands, bloggers, social media managers, individuals.

Summary: As Twitter becomes part of your routine — and especially if you manage multiple accounts — it’s easy to feel as if you’re floundering in the incessant flood of information. But a good Twitter dashboard (sometimes called an application or client) gives you access to your accounts in one place and can help you stay afloat by making it easier to monitor, plan and track updates and conversations.

Here we compare our top seven Twitter dashboards, as well as list others that may work best for you and your organization. Compare these to our earlier roundup of Top 10 social media dashboard tools.

This is the part of our ongoing series on how organizations can get the most out of Twitter. Please check back weekly for the next installment. Also see:

twitter-essentials

8 nonprofit Twitter superstars
12-step guide on how to live-tweet an event
24 best practices for nonprofits using Twitter
7 top tools to measure performance & influence on Twitter

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstTwitter dashboards come in two types: desktop and Web-based. Which one best fits your organization depends on your preferences. While some people prefer to separate their Twitter and Internet experiences, other people find it easier to keep everything within the Web browser.

One downside of running a separate desktop client is that it can slow down your computer. However, even though Web-based solutions don’t require updates as do desktop ones, they also occasionally don’t work properly. Many of these clients also work on other platforms, including iPhones, Androids, iPads and others. All of these tools can be a bit daunting at first, so expect to spend some time getting familiar with them.

 

tweetdeck

TweetDeck: An all-in-one desktop dashboard

1TweetDeck allows you to schedule tweets, to follow and unfollow accounts, and to create separate columns to track hashtags, keywords and Twitter lists. It also supports Geo-tagged tweets. You can track links using the url shortener bit.ly, and if you feel limited by 140 characters, a service called deck.ly allows you to tweet longer. The pop-up notifications can be helpful if you need to stay updated on a certain topic or keyword throughout the day. Unfortunately, you can’t filter the pop-ups but you can turn them off. On the negative side, this desktop tool has been known to slow some computers down since it uses Adobe AIR.

Twitter acquired Tweetdeck in May 2011, and although they have not done so yet, and haven’t shown any signs that they will, some people have concerns that Twitter might shut down Tweetdeck to protect itself. For now, this dashboard also simplifies Facebook, Myspace and Foursquare account management. Plus, its Android app gets the best reviews.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Platforms: Desktop, iPhone, iPad, Android

Hootsuite: Web-based productivity dashboard

2Like TweetDeck, Hootsuite can also schedule tweets, follow and unfollow people, and create separate tabs for monitoring. This intuitive dashboard has several useful features. First, it is designed to make collaborating and organization easy. Second, it offers free analytics, including a built-in url shortener, which tracks your tweeted links. Other useful features include displaying a user’s Klout score, which measures online influence, and a bookmarklet that allows you to tweet about a page without leaving your current tab. It also supports Facebook, LinkedIn, Ping.fm, WordPress.com, MySpace, Foursquare and mixi. Plus, real-time searches can be embedded on your website. On the downside, this client can fall asleep with inactivity, which disrupts any monitored streams.

The free version of this tool provides you with free social analytics, five social profiles and it’s ad-supported. Or you can opt for the $5.99 per month Pro version that allows you to have one team member, plus unlimited social profiles, enhanced analytics, no ads and more. The iPhone app is excellent for tweeting on the go. Hootsuite also continues to improve its service. Three updates announced this month provide geo-analytic technology, deeper integration with LinkedIn and crowd-sourced explanations of trending topics.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Platforms: Web, iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Keitai

seesmic

Seesmic: Powerful multi-platform tool

5If Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are for power users, Seesmic is for regular folks. The Seesmic Desktop offering is an Adobe Air application that integrates multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts and pages. Seesmic also offers a browser-based client for Twitter that allows you to manage your Twitter stream in a Gmail-like interface; save your Twitter searches synchronized with your Twitter account; and hold threaded conversations in your direct messages (DM’s). Seesmic Desktop allows you to manage several Twitter accounts, build groups, create saved searches and utilize an anti-spam tool. Klout can be integrated into this client using an app; however, you won’t get analytics with this tool, and the Web and desktop versions have different features.

Rating: ★ ★ ★
Platforms: Desktop, Web, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry

Mixero: Improving workflow, reducing noise

6Dubbed a “new generation Twitter client,” Mixero cuts out much of the distracting Twitter noise and allows you to manage multiple accounts without becoming overwhelmed. This desktop client runs on Adobe Air, but users report fewer glitches than similar applications. Many clients attempt to take over your computer and give you little control; however, Mixero gives you detachable, re-sizable columns. And they also have a unique Avatar mode, which allows the program to hide itself except for your ActiveList. The icon cluster stays on top of the desktop and shows when new items are received. This is great for not getting caught up with every little thing everyone is saying.

Its ActiveList allows you to choose a number of sources that are really important for you at the time. You can filter groups and create channels using keywords and user names. MicroChats give you the ability to create a private (or public) chat room and quickly invite your Twitter friends and followers to talk with you in real time. Another useful feature for getting work done is that the app allows you to create two dashboard setups, meaning you can have one for work and one for home. It also works with Facebook.

Rating: ★ ★ ★
Platforms: Desktop, iPhone, Android

brizzly

Brizzly: A simple, Web-based reader

7Brizzly simplifies your Twitter browsing and allows you to manage up to five accounts for free; however, it does not allow scheduling. One neat thing about this tool is that it helps you keep up with news and trends and explains trending topics in its Brizzly Guide. This way your nonprofit can stay relevant. Also, when you get a direct message (DM,) an IM-like notification pops up which you can view and answer in the pop-up window. Another useful feature is that you can mute a user without unfollowing them. In June 2010, Brizzly launched picnics, a feature that allows you to exchange links, photos and comments with members of your nonprofit and without anyone else seeing them.

Rating: ★ ★
Platforms: Web, iPhone, iPad, Android

Other choices

We haven’t used all of these additional Twitter dashboards and clients — which ones do you think are worth a tryout?

  • DestroyTwitter. A super simple desktop dashboard. It leaves an incredibly small footprint.
  • EasyChirp. An alternative to the Twitter.com website, the site is designed to be easier to use and optimized for disabled users. Formerly called Accessible Twitter.
  • UberSocial: A full-featured app with an excellent iPhone component. Also, available for Android and Blackberry.
  • CoTweet: Wed-based social media engagement, management and reporting solution. Offers anayltics, although they are not intuitive.
  • TwitterLocal: Good for connecting with local people and businesses.
  • Twitterific: A Mac OS X and iOS client.
  • Echofon : A minimalist client for Mac, also with a Firefox add-on.
  • Pwytter : A free, open source Twitter client for Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • Tweetie for Mac: A Twitter app for Mac (desktop and laptop) users. Note: Twitter purchased Tweetie2, an iPhone app, in April 2010.
  • Digsby: Digsby combines IM, email and social networks in one app.
  • Twinja : A downloadable desktop app built on Adobe AIR for those who prefer a different UI. Works on both Mac and PC.
  • TwInbox : TwInbox seamlessly integrates Twitter into Outlook, giving you full Twitter functionality without having to open any other apps.
  • Spaz: An open-source Twitter app for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.
  • Tweetr : Twitter client for Mac / PC.
  • Twittm : Twitter for desktop.
  • Statuzer : Twitter client running through Adobe AIR.
  • Chirpr : Windows sidebar gadget for Twitter.

Have a favorite of these Twitter clients? Which ones do you like or dislike? Know of others we missed? Please share in the comments!

Additional Twitter articles on Socialbrite

Top 10 social media dashboard tools

40 hashtags for social good

12 great nonprofits & causes to follow on Twitter

Build a fan base: How to get more followers on Twitter

Go viral: 13 ways to get your blog posts retweeted

Twitter tutorials: Twitter Lists, hashtags, Twitter stats & moreLindsay Oberst is a freelance writer who writes about art, culture and topics that relate to social and environmental good. Follow her on Twitter at @LindsayOSocial for social good discussions or at @LindsayOWrite to chat about writing.

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