April 13, 2009, 11:25 AM — If you finally caught up with Twitter and found out what all the fuss is about, you now might be wondering: what the heck is TweetDeck? In short, TweetDeck is a helpful, no-cost application that will help you get more from Twitter by sorting through messages more efficiently than the regular version of the service provided on Twitter's website.
Apps like TweetDeck emerged in large part because Twitter serves a wide array of purposes for its users. By building a business presence on Twitter, professionals hear what people say about their products and keep track of industry colleagues. Consumers can follow messages shared by their friends, family or favorite celebrities.
On the regular version of Twitter (which you access by logging into Twitter.com), your stream of updates will encompass everyone whose Twitter feeds you follow, which can be overwhelming. You can't have separate windows for your friends, family, colleagues, and customers. Instead, it all streams down your Twitter home page in one unified view.
Luckily, TweetDeck has a lot of upsides for business users who want to get a better grip on Twitter. TweetDeck allows you to partition off groups of your Twitter acquaintances into their own nice, tidy window panes. It's ideal for people looking to balance and organize their professional and personal interests on Twitter. In addition, TweetDeck integrates with Facebook, so you can view status messages from your contacts on that service, or easily publish your own tweets to their Facebook News Feeds.
TweetDeck runs on Adobe AIR, a technology that allows you to use rich Internet applications (RIAs) on your desktop. As such, you must Download TweetDeck (and it will direct you to install Adobe AIR if you don't already have it). When you launch TweetDeck, you simply enter in your Twitter user name and password to get started.
Adding Groups to TweetDeck
Within the main console of TweetDeck, you'll find three main windows the app sets up by default (All Friends, Replies and Direct Messages).
Above the window panes, you will see a menu of buttons. Choose the middle button (when your mouse scrolls over it, it will say "Group").
After you choose the Group button, a new window will emerge on the far right side of your TweetDeck screen. Type what you want to call the group, and check off the names of the people you would like to add to it.
When you're done, click "Save Group."
To the right of your default windows, you should now see your new Tweet group. Here's one I have that displays tweets from my colleagues in CIO's editorial department.
Post Tweets to Facebook or Twitter, or Both
In order to add your Facebook status messages to Twitter, simply click on the Facebook icon on the right side of the button console described in the last section.
When you choose it, a pop-up will emerge and ask for your Facebook user name and password. This will install the TweetDeck Facebook application to your Facebook Account and allow the two programs to talk with each other.
After you install the TweetDeck app for Facebook, click on the button with the thought bubble on the far left side of the TweetDeck console.
This will open up a field for you to post a status message. On the left side, you'll find check boxes for "Facebook" and "Twitter." Decide where you want to publish the post by checking them off. This is an especially helpful feature, as you may not want to burden a lot of your Facebook friends with your daily work-related tweets.
Some other cool things the Tweet editor does: it will automatically shorten URLs and add them to the body of your tweets before you send them. You can also upload pictures to TwitPic, a service that hosts pictures that are shared (via a link) over Twitter.