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Twitter remains a key social media tool for me. Its value has substantially diminished in the last 6 months, although some recent changes like view count have been enlightening, emphasizing that diminution if anything. I have used TweetDeck as well, which is a Twitter tool that enables post management. It has lagged behind – or been isolated from – recent changes on the Twitter web app. I got up one day and had been enrolled in a TweetDeck Preview and it’s a really nice improvement. So nice, in fact, that I rarely need to use the regular Twitter interface any longer.
TweetDeck is a free social media management tool provided by Twitter. While a lot of its functionality is built into the Twitter app, some things are more visible in TweetDeck. I use it for:
- Scheduling tweets
- Following keywords, using Twitter’s search feature, and displaying the results in a column
- Managing a Twitter account team
Something like Hootsuite or Buffer may make more sense if you are working on multiple social media platforms. Buffer has a free level too, which could be useful for a small law library (one person managing the account, 3 social media accounts). Since I am only on Twitter, TweetDeck is ideal for me.
The recent shift to the TweetDeck Preview has mostly been positive. The Preview appears to have been ongoing for more than a year. It only works on large profile interfaces and in the web browser, so you won’t see it on your phone. That works for me, as I find the Twitter Android app to be the least best way to interact with tweets. One thing you can see is a merging of the Twitter app (at https://twitter.com) with the functionality on TweetDeck. Look-and-feel and compose functionality are becoming universal. The Twitter site warns that the Preview is temporary, but it’s interesting to see what they’re contemplating.
A Tweet Is Just A Tweet
One thing that I noticed was that the tweet function became a lot more similar in the Preview. Before, on TweetDeck, you could not limit the audience of your tweets. On Twitter, you could select everyone, people you follow, and people you mention. On TweetDeck, there was no pick list. It seemed to just pick up whatever your setting was on Twitter.com.
As you can see, the new TweetDeck compose function is different. Some things are new and obvious. Others are missing. One thing that is strange is that, on Twitter.com, the Schedule icon below the tweet (second icon from the right) works but it does not work on TweetDeck. As you can see above, the Schedule Tweet button was highly visible on the older, blue TweetDeck compose function. It remains greyed out for me.
Something to remember: the Twitter compose function works differently depending on how you access it. On Twitter.com, if you type into the “What’s Happening” box, you get limited functionality. If you click the blue Tweet button, you get a pop up. This has the option to see your draft Tweets and, in the past, was also where you could schedule them.
I liked the checkbox to confirm that I wanted to send a tweet. This is missing on the Preview (it is set on the old TweetDeck under your account settings). If you run a Twitter Team, with multiple people posting tweets to a shared account, but from their personal accounts, it can provide a check to ensure that those streams don’t get mixed. I once worked with a so-called social media manager and they were managing a brand (corporate) account. But they weren’t careful, and tweeted from their personal account as if they were a corporate representative, which looks sloppy and can create other reputational risks. The checkbox can cause people to double check what they’re about to publish.
Multiple Decks, Multiple Columns
The thing I liked about TweetDeck from the start is that you can follow keywords or handles. You can use the Twitter search syntax to create complicated search queries. Many of mine require specific keywords and require that specific keywords be excluded. It’s not perfect but it allows me to filter out a lot of noise.
The drawback was that TweetDeck became a wide window of columns. There was no way to stack columns, so you had to scroll back and forth to get to them. The new Preview changes that.
You can see the columns in the screenshot above. The compose function is at the top left and then I have 4 columns on law library topics. At the top of each column – I tend to use Search – you can see the search queries that each one is using. At the far right, you can just see part of the Add Column button, where I could add more columns.
The difference is on the left, below the compose function. I now have 4 decks here, where before all of my columns were a single deck. On the old TweetDeck, the side bar had an Add Column option but each column was represented by an icon too. All of these icons are gone, replaced with the individual deck icons.
One nice feature is that you can provide a unique emoji for each deck. Before, if your column used Search, it automatically defaulted to a search icon (magnifying glass). In my case, that meant a string of magnifying glasses that did not distinguish between what each search was. Now, when I collapse the side bar, I can see each icon distinctly and then go to that deck. Once the deck is open, I can review the latest tweets that match the multiple columns on that deck.
Teams Are Broken
Unfortunately, the Teams function is invisible on the Preview. On purpose. I worry that it will become a paid function, which would make TweetDeck less usable for law libraries or non-profits that may not be able to afford it for their shared account.
Why use a Team? It means you do not need to share the corporate account Twitter password with every staff person who wants access. They can join Twitter under their own account, and you can give them access. And, when they leave the organization, you can disable that access without having to reset the password for everyone.
You can also use multi-factor authentication on the corporate account, but Team members can choose whether to use MFA on their account or not. It builds in flexibility that keeps your corporate account secure, and under corporate control, without making it hard for staff to update.
If you decide to use Teams, your teammates will need to allow themselves to be added to the Team. Under each individual account, there is an option to opt in to TweetDeck Teams. If you invite someone before they toggle that on, they will not be able to join the team.
One thing you’ll notice about TweetDeck is you control all of the content that you see. That means you never have to do battle with the For You and Following tabs on Twitter.com. In my case, I block every promoted tweet. So I rarely see advertising and I never see it on TweetDeck.
This has meant that it’s where I go to quickly catch up on tweets – I still read every single one, as I don’t follow that many people. And the use of columns means that, at a glance, I can see if something is trending or if a discussion I need to follow has popped up outside of the people I follow.
I like the columns because they also keep me from having to develop lists of people. In Mastodon, you can follow a hashtag. The columns in TweetDeck offer a similar function. There is surely some algorithmic activity going on to determine what pops in my timeline – I sometimes only see a tweet a few days after it was published, even though it’s a match for my search query – but it’s still largely noise-free.
The TweetDeck Preview is interesting. I would miss TweetDeck if it became a paid option. Even if some of the functionality went behind a paywall, that would be enough to break the value for me. But I’m glad to see it’s getting some attention after what feels like years of being ignored, just like the mobile apps. I am keeping my expectations low, however, as the only thing that has become consistent at Twitter is its misfiring.