In: , ,
On: 2009 / 04 / 15
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Recently, I've been using Twitter more and more. I recently launched a tiny web service and decided to use Twitter as a "marketing" platform (maybe I'll blog about this later) so I really needed a way to switch easily between multiple Twitter accounts and identity.

The best twitter client I've found yet is Splitweet, a free web-based Twitter multi account manager, aimed at "corporate and heavy users". It's great.


Why I like Splitweet

In a nutshell, you can, within one dashboard screen:

  • easily send tweets under one or several accounts (crosstweeting) (and see an estimated cumulated audience)
  • follow tweets from people you follow
  • follow replies & DM sent to all (or some of) your accounts
  • monitor a brand reputation: get a list of tweets for any people mentionning keywords you want to watch (your full name, company name, company URL, book title…)
  • and last but not least, beat my corporate firewall which is blocking Ahah, pwned.

Splitweet is definitely a tool I'd use even if I had only one Twitter account, for its feature list beats Twitter hands down. The "brand reputation" management especially is a cool thing that integrates well Twitter's totally awesome real time search.

Now if you're a Splitweet developper, read on, I have a few suggestions and feature requests :)

Things I'd like to be fixed or improved

There are a few little things I'd love to see improved:

  • the tweet textarea is not big enough: even if you stay under the 140 character limit, you sometimes see a little scrollbar (on FF3/XP at least). Make it grow automatically!
  • I'm not too fan of the way the tweet textarea limits your text to 140 chars: when you hit the limit, you cannot type any more. I'd rather have it the twitter way: mark that you're over limit (and disable the "Send" button) but let you type anyway. It's way easier to rephrase something when you can read it all, I think.
  • when clicking on "Reply", it should auto select the account from which you want to send the tweet (and deselect other accounts if applicable)
  • why not incorporate direct messages to the "Replies to your account" column? To me, DM are really like replies, except they're not public, so why treat them separately? In the current interface, DM are just mostly ignored.
  • messages are timestamped in a natural way, like "18 minutes ago". This is neat, but when not using the auto update mode that regularly refreshes the browser window, this makes less sense. I'd rather have "at 12h44" in that case.
  • in tweets I follow, I see my own tweets. I'm not sure there's a use for this, maybe it should be an option?
  • same comment goes for "Brands", in which I see my own messages. Now I'm sure there's no need for this, please exclude my messages.

The interface has a few kinks that could be improved, regarding usability and user feedback:

  • When I click "Tweet this", I'm missing an activity indicator. Did I click? Is it sending? Dunno. It also feels awkward to me that the form is not submitted in an Ajaxified way with no page reload, and makes it impossible that you refresh the page with a simple F5 (again, when not in auto-refresh mode)
  • If you try to sent a DM to someone who is not following you, you get an error message, ok that's fine, but the tweet box is cleared, so you have to write everything again if you want for instance send a simple reply instead of a direct message.
  • I'd like to reorder the account checkboxes, so I would put those I use more often near the Tweet textarea
  • I'd suggest a few CSS tweaks to clearly indicate when hovering an element that it's clickable (like the "Tweet it" button, the accounts you select to tweet to (by the way, those ugly unstyled checkboxes don't really fit in the overall neat design, in my opinion)

Features I'd like

Inline reply viewer: reading a reply tweet from someone I follow to someone I don't know and not knowing what they're talking about frustrates me. It would rock to hover the "in reply to @Joe" link and see appear a popup showing the message that got replied. Twitter is about conversation, such a feature would be the definitive way to follow a conversation between two twitterers when you're not following both of them. For maximum awesomability, those popups would be stackable, of course: if a reply contains a "in reply to @someone" link, hover it to see the origin of the reply, and so on.

Link expanding: I'd like a way to see where a or link is going to send me. It would convenient to have a tooltip with the destination when hovering such a link.

Media embedding: someone linking to a youtube video? To a .jpg file? It would be a nice touch to view them inline, much like this Greasemonkey script does.

User informations: when I'm viewing a user profile, I miss some informations like am I following they? are they following one of my accounts? I should be able to know this before I click on the "Follow" button. And I want some facts and figures that will help me decide if I'm going to follow them, I want stats.

Stats: I love stats. Everybody loves stats. I want to know more about Twitterers, without having to leave Splitweet. For instance, I like the "twitteristics" that MrTweet provides (tweet frequency, reply ratio…) Something like this within Splitweet would rock.

Basically, I'd like to do everything from within Splitweet without having to leave the site and go on Twitter: see friends and followers, search Twitter, etc…

What I'd love: a real split logic

As it is currently, you pick one or several accounts to monitor tweets from people these accounts follow (left hand of the dashboard) and replies sent to these accounts (right hand of the dashboard).

I would love this logic being separated in two distincts parts, ie:

  • select accounts for which I want to follow tweets (left part of the dashboard)
  • select accounts for which I want to monitor replies and DM (right part)

The reasoning behind this feature request is the following: say I'm an individual from a company that uses Twitter. I would run my personal account "Ozh", and my corporate account "CoolCorp". My personal account would follow a hand picked set of people (people I really have interest in) while my corporate account would follow gazillions of twitter users (basically anyone who added me, in a reciprocity spirit).

With Splitweet as it is designed now, I have to make an impossible choice between:

  • either show both personal and corporate accounts, but then people who I personally follow (ie via account "Ozh") will be totally diluted in the flow of people followed by my corporate account,
  • or show only my personal account, so I can really follow people I want to read from, but then I would miss all the replies sent to my corporate account which will be bad for my brand reputation.

In short: you should be able to follow tweets for one or several accounts, and follow replies & DM for other accounts.

What I'd love, really: a 3 column layout

There's one more thing I'd love to have, but it's more of a redesign than a feature: a 3 column layout.

  • one for following
  • one for "brands"
  • one for replies+DM.

These 3 features are really what makes Splitweet such an excellent tool, and this would make the Dashboard page show more of these 3 types, with everything above the fold.

As it is now, having to scroll down to see just a few replies is cumbersome. Twitter is really about conversation, but the actual layout does not give justice to @replies.

All in all

All in all, Splitweet is really cool already, I really love it. Light years from the plain Twitter interface. Now I'm ready for a paid membership plan with more features ;)

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This entry "@Splitweet: You’re My Favorite Twitter Client" was posted on 15/04/2009 at 2:49 pm and is tagged with , ,
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2 Blablas

  1. Oh My!

    I read the post twice, and i'll dot it back again I promise. Thank you for all the detailed info you gave us here. There are things that sound familiar to us because we would love to have for ourselves too :)

    As a quick reply, and as the tech freak crew, I'll let know that we are a bit stopped on features this month because we are having trouble with performance. The application has grown a lot in terms of users and the servers are too hot. We have to migrate the platform to a more powerful place. This costs money and time (and we don't have neither) :(

    But after this is done, I'll let you know that the DMs will be placed somehow in the sidebar, we have already been tinkering on this. this way you will be able to track everything from your accounts from the dashboard. I miss it to :)

    More to come!

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks for the very detailed article. I'm using Twitter also and will give Splitweet a try.

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