Why Twitter has made a $40m mistake buying Tweetdeck

So, after all the rumours and speculation Twitter has bought Tweetdeck for a whopping $40m. Big mistake chaps.

If you didn’t already know it, Tweetdeck is an application for managing social network information, in particular Twitter. On its own, Twitter is pretty much useless. The front page is of no use at all and even if you are logged in all you see is a mish-mash of stuff; no order to it, no categorisation, just Tweets from the people you follow. Is it any wonder that people need something to manage Twitter?

Thankfully, various “Twitter Clients” exist  – such as Tweetdeck, Seesmic or HootSuite – which make the manipulation and management of Twitter easier and more user-friendly. Tweetdeck was one of the first, is a British invention and has millions of worldwide fans.

TweetDeck

Clearly, Twitter realised that their product was not up to much and needed a better interface – so they went on the hunt for software that would do it. Enter the deal with Tweetdeck.

But Twitter should have bought HootSuite. Here’s why:

1. HootSuite is visually superior

Tweetdeck is white on black text. That is particularly hard to read on screen – and even though you can change the colours it is cumbersome and the fonts are relatively fixed and only really look good in white on black. Readability is essential in rapid-fire communications such as Twitter streams. Tweetdeck readability is bound to be less than that of HootSuite which is constructed using black on white text. White on black was a design fashion when Tweetdeck began. Look at all the world’s leading websites right now….? They are all black on white text – because they have discovered they get more readers for longer when this occurs. (I won’t bore you with the way the eye responds to transmitted light versus reflected light – but that is the reason why white on black text is harder to read on screens than it is in print.)

2. HootSuite has more functions

With Tweetdeck you can organise your Tweets very well indeed and you can manage your followers and be efficient with your use of Twitter. But with HootSuite you can do all of this and run it from a corporate account allowing multiple users to Tweet from one account, or allow multiple accounts to be Tweeted by one individual. You can also more easily schedule Tweets – months in advance. On top of that, HootSuite integrates with your blog, allowing you to connect it directly to Twitter  – and you can do this with all your social media accounts in one place. Plus you get excellent analytics with HootSuite, letting you know the precise value of every single Tweet. In short, HootSuite has so much more to it.

3. HootSuite is web-based

With Tweetdeck you either need to run it as a separate piece of software on your PC (using Adobe Air), or you need an App for a mobile device. At the moment, the only web browser you can get Tweetdeck on is Chrome – others are to follow (currently in beta). With HootSuite you can run it on any web browser you like, which means you can access it anywhere, any time – not the case for Tweetdeck.

Tweetdeck has many fans – Twitter amongst them it seems – but when you stack up the capabilities of HootSuite against Tweetdeck, one appears to be a full-functioned, user-friendly, easy-to-use application and the other appears to be limited in functionality, difficult to engage with and not user-friendly because you can’t use if it you want to do so via Firefox, say.

Having bought Tweetdeck you can bet that Twitter will want more of us to use it; and therein lies the problem – its limitations will now be exposed amongst a much wider audience (most people who Tweet do not currently use Tweetdeck). And once those limitations are exposed Twitter could well be in the very place they were in yesterday before they bought Twitter – with a less than friendly interface. And that’s not where they need to be. They need to be banging on the door of HootSuite pretty sharpish I reckon.

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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones

@grahamjones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
@chriscfox It was a bit of both. - 1 hour ago
Graham Jones

2 thoughts on “Why Twitter has made a $40m mistake buying Tweetdeck

  1. Maybe it was the cheapest option.

    So they spend a few more $, re-develop it and use their market reach to make it the defacto standard. Takes out the other vendors, gives Twitter what they want, gives users what they want.

    Acquisitions often kill the acquired technology, especially where it is a cross border acquisition, so don't assume it is about the product as it now is, but what is will be as part of Twitter.

    Like shooting clays or game, you have to aim ahead ahead of the target.

    • Hi Colin, Thanks for the comment – I think you make a very good point. Maybe the acquisition is more about what Twitter plans for the future, rather than what it can do with Tweetdeck now. But if they wanted to kill it off, I think they could have done that more cheaply than spending $40m…they could simply have switched off API access for Tweetdeck. Reading between the lines I have always thought that Twitter favours HootSuite themselves. Perhaps it is all about giving a clear path ahead for them…?

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