UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Shouldn’t Information Professionals Use A Dedicated Twitter Client?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15 Jun 2010

I recently described Nicola McNee’s #CILIP1 Twitter campaign in which she encouraged librarians to respond to a KMPG report which questions the future of professional librarians.

I announced the post on Twitter:

Worried about the future for librarians? Join the #CILIP1 Twitter campaign – it’s taking off :-) http://bit.ly/dt6w4P

and was pleased to see, via the statistics provided by bit.ly, the large number of retweets of my announcement and, I hope, active participation in the campaign.

Referrer statistics provided by bit.lyI was also interested to observe the referrer statistics provided by the service which summarised the Twitter clients being used when the link was followed.

As can be seen the majority of views came via the Twitter.com Web site, with smaller numbers for Adobe Air clients, mobile clients and other mobile interfaces.  The statistics also showed that use of the TweetDeck  client (which I use) was significantly less than the accesses from Twitter.com.

I must admit I find this slightly surprising. Over a year ago colleague at Bath University admitted that he only “got” Twitter after using a dedicated client rather than the Twitter Web site.

In recent talks on “Exploiting the Social Web to Promote Your Resources” commissioned by the Strategic Content Alliance (SCA) I have described how I use TweetDeck to group the tweets to reflect my areas of interest.

An example of how I use TweetDeck so that alerts in areas of particular interest are grouped together is shown (note click on image for full-size display). If I so desire, I can configure the client so a audio and visual alert is provided when a new Columns in TweetDecktweet in one of the categories is posted.

As well as the search columns I also have columns for all my followers (the view you get using the Twitter.com Web site), mentions (the @briankelly columns), direct messages and any groups which I have created – I have a Bath group containing the Twitter used I follow who are based in or around Bath) I know that  some people have an A-List column containing the followers whose tweets they are particularly interested in.

I feel that information professionals who use Twitter should be aware of the benefits which can be gained from use of dedicated twitter clients – not only for their own benefits but also in advising their users of best practices for using Twitter effectively.

But perhaps librarians and information professionals aren’t allowed to install desktop applications and this is the reason for the popularity of the Twitter.com Web site. In which case a more sophisticated Web-based twitter client might be a useful tool to use. Why not give Hootsuite.com a try? As shown below this provides multiple configurable columns plus a tabbed interface.   Surely it’s time to move on from Twitter.com?

Hootsuite Web-based Twitter client

9 Responses to “Shouldn’t Information Professionals Use A Dedicated Twitter Client?”

  1. I very seldom use the native Twitter interface – just about everything that I do is via Brizzly. It’s quite similar in that it’s a single feed/stream of data, unlike Tweetdeck, JournoTwit etc. but it’s very flexible. I tend to add people into various lists and read those rather than the straightforward stream, use the mute option, and there’s buttons to click for mentions and saved searches.

  2. Paul Milne said

    I use Nambu, because it doesn’t require Adobe Air, but is still pretty darned flexible.

    I would be one of the number who only started finding Twitter really useful when I could separate out specific strands of tweets.

    Brian, when you say information specialists and then librarians, you are pointing out a potential dichotomy. Just because professionals use computers as tools in their work, if they are not involved in the technology of computing then they might still be nervous about installing their own software – or if in HE work on managed desktops – that’s why a web-based service like they one you’ve highlighted might really prove useful to them.

  3. Christina Svala said

    I use HootSuite and I like it a lot. Partly because I don’t have to download it, because as you mentioned, we are not always allowed to download and install everything we’d like to om our computers at work.

    A big plus is I can maintain our library’s tweets from it as well as my own and also feed our library news-RSS into our twitter-stream automatically. And as you mentioned, it is easy to make columns to see mentions of me or direct messages to me, and follow events with #tags. It’s also possible to add other social media-tabs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more but I find I don’t have that much use for that for the time beeing. But if we decide to get a Facebook-account (last of all libraries I suspect) I can control it from the same place.

  4. Michael Hopwood said

    I wanted to install TweetDeck but don’t have permission to do downloads, so I use the HootSuite web client at present. It’s not as fancy-schmancy but it works.

    It seems to me we have a long way to go before lib/info folks break out of the mindset which sees “Twitter” as “Twitter.com” and see Web 2.0, APIs, etc. behind the “tool of the moment”.

  5. Gary Green said

    I would prefer to use Hootsuite at work, but it has issues in Internet Explorer – ie it doesn’t refresh properly. I use Twitter itself at work and dabr.co.uk on my smart phone, because it provides a lot more functionality than Twitter mobile.

  6. Karen said

    Another factor to consider is whether website filtering is in place. Twitter.com and some of the more popular web-based clients sometimes fall foul of web filtering. I found that working in an enthusiastically filtered environment means I tend towards using obscure tools or going via tolerated sites.

  7. I think the use that really gets people thinking is on their mobile phones. It’s so easy to keep up with news and contribute when you can do it when and where you want. I use Tweetdeck here.

    Nevertheless Twitter.com has got better over the years. It has trending topics and search now, and does retweets properly whilst some clients are still catching up with the changes Twitter made with this. Also being logged in to Twitter these days gets you into lots of other satellite sites. Basically Twitter are slugging it out with Facebook and Google to provide your identity on the web.

    The huge benefit of 3rd party apps over native Twitter comes from those apps that let you work with lots of different activity streams at once. That really does provide a possible answer to the inbox problem that everyone suffers as it’s a very nice and efficient way of keeping up with everything. I use Tweetdeck on my Mac for this reason mostly. It works with Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, and now will work with open source apps that support “Twitter compatible” APIs, like Status.net (formerly Laconi.ca), WordPress and Tumblr, basically a clone of the ultra-simple first generation Twitter API. This is an exciting move as it opens the way for Universities to run their own public status networks, where people are identified using their own University IDs (in my case apbl500@york.ac.uk) instead of global Twitter identifiers, but where updates in such “silo” social networks would still be readable alongside everything else going on in the big players (Twitter/Facebook/Buzz) so they wouldn’t get ignored.

    If you think that’s good, and that there ought to be a standards effort to come up with an API that wen beyond what Twitter offers for this – there is one and it’s called OStatus (http://ostatus.org). Formerly OpenMicroBlogging, OStatus is being pushed by Chris Messina now of Google. So it’s likely that OStatus networks run by Universities in the future would if anything be Buzz-like rather than Twitter-like, and you might find that – just as you might use GMail to keep up with your university mail – you might end up using Buzz to follow everything in one place. Watch this space!

  8. Tom Roper said

    I use HootSuite at work (used to use Seesmic) for same reasons as others, restricted in ability to install applications myself. Do any IT departments include a twitter client as part of standard staff/student desktop?
    On own powerbooks I use Tweetdeck almost exclusively; used to use Seesmic.
    But much of my tweeting is done on iPhone and here I use, after some experimenting, settled on Tweetie, made by atebits, which, is spite of the sick-making name, seemed to have the best functionality. But now it’s been taken over by Twitter themselves and rebranded as Twitter, tout court. How will that appear in the bit.ly stats, I wonder? Will it just show, incorrectly, as website use?

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