If you are a heavy Twitter user, you probably have favourite programs that you use regularly. There are any number of alternatives, all with different features and their own distinct advantages, but for whatever reason, there’ll be one (or a few) that you favour over all others. When this goes wrong, it can throw your Twitter strategy into a spin.
Yesterday, some time in the afternoon, HootSuite threw a wobbly. It wasn’t anything major, but I howled like a pained Wookie for a good 45 minutes while I tried to figure out what was going on. My tweets weren’t being accepted, I couldn’t see what I had queued up, and I had trouble navigating from account to account. I don’t tweet just for myself, I handle accounts on behalf of others as well, and when HootSuite began playing up, I had ten different IDs up that all needed attention, one of whom needs a big publicity push during this week.
Of course, I could always go to an alternative program, like TweetDeck, or even just use the main Twitter page. But the whole point of using HootSuite was that I could jump from account to account, scheduling posts for a point later in time, while still monitoring @ replies and direct messages in real time. I couldn’t do all of that in either of the above alternatives, and even when I found something that seemed to be good, it turned out that I hadn’t updated it with all the different accounts I needed. The frustration was tremendous, and as I went through all the most popular platforms I felt more and more despondent. I even considered booting up separate computers simultaneously and running four different browsers on each of them so that I could get each of the accounts running on the main Twitter page.
In the end, I came to my senses and remembered this blog, and also my (sadly neglected) Freeware of the Week feature. I fired up MahTweets to see if I could salvage anything from the wreckage of my afternoon plans. Luckily for me, I had most of the accounts I needed already loaded in my installation, so all I needed to do was to add a couple more and I was good to go. It was a little disconcerting dealing with a desktop app when I am so used to a web-based platform, but I soon got the hang of it and was able to create the columns I needed to keep track of everything.
The one thing I couldn’t do was schedule tweets for a later time, which was a major handicap, as I then had to keep note of the links I wanted to send out and keep them waiting until I was ready (I hate sending out multiple tweets at the same time). Still, it wasn’t as much trouble as not being able to keep an eye on everything, so while I still grumbled, I didn’t feel the need to reach for a tumbler of whiskey. Instead, I prioritised which tweets were the most important, queued them up and hoped for the best.
As it was the troubles with HootSuite didn’t last for more than a couple of hours, and I was soon back to my normal routine. Still, the experience did serve to remind me of the dangers of becoming too dependent on one particular platform for my Twitter needs. I am now diversifying, seeking out new ways to take control of my Twitter accounts and to mitigate against any similar snafus in the future. Twitter is a remarkably easy way of communicating… when it works. When part of the chain breaks down, however, a user can be left floundering for an alternative. I now have a backup plan in case HootSuite messes up again. What are you doing to make sure you don’t get left in the dark?
[Images by JamesJosephImages.com]