I’ve been a Twitter user for a while now, but I’d always been conscious that I wasn’t getting as much out of it as I should have been.
There was simply too much information to manage.
So this last weekend I installed TweetDeck as a means of rationalizing and organizing this constant flow of information into something that would be useful to me.
And, so far, I’m very impressed.
TweetDeck displays information from Twitter in a series of panes. You can define what information is displaid in each pane and (as far as I can tell) you can have as many panes as you want. Here’s a full sized screenshot.
I’ve set up 5 panes: I’ve created a group which I’ve called IM Gurus into which I’ve put 2 or 3 people that I really want to follow. Another group is for real-life friends. These groups are each displaid in their own pane.
Then I set up a pane to display all replies to me and another to display all Direct Messages.
Finally I have a pane that displays my search results.
I’m still exploring TweetDeck and I haven’t yet discovered all its riches, but there are a few things which I’ve been delighted with so far:
1) URL shortening
It has a box below the message write box into which you can put urls. To the right of that there’s a drop down menu of url shortening services (Tinyurl and the rest).
Select the service you want to use, click the ‘shorten’ button and it inserts your shortened link directly into your tweet.
This is great because when I was using Twitter itself I was constantly running out of space when I sent someone a link, because it was only shortened after I clicked the ‘update’ button. Now that’s solved.
2) It Retains Search Criteria
I use the Twitter search function to find questions on things I know something about. Finding and answering questions has been an excellent way of building up both followers and visits to this blog.
TweetDeck remembers the search criteria I was using in my previous session and resumes searching as soon as I fire it up.
This, again, I love.
3) New item notifications
I minimize TweetDeck when I’m not actually reading or writing stuff. When it’s minimized, it plays a sound and discreetly displays a notification telling me a new item has arrived and which category (pane) it has arrived in.
When enough new items have arrived (or when an important one does) I just click on the system tray icon and do what needs to be done.
And one thing that frustrates me:
The only thing I’ve found so far that’s frustrating is that it doesn’t show my updates. This would be a really useful addition.
I like to be able to refer to my updates when I get replies to something that I sent to someone a while ago, because I usually can’t make head or tail of them.
So please, TweetDeck Team, include the ability to display Updates in a future release.
Overall, though, I’m very pleased with TweetDeck so far. It greatly improves my productivity when I’m using Twitter and being able to keep easy and prompt contact with friends is great.