We recently gave a lesson to some editors and reporters about how to use TweetDeck, the awesome Twitter-streaming product. We thought we’d publish our step-by-step walk-through here, both so our reporters could bookmark it for future reference and to show you all what we’re up to. Obviously it’s just the basics detailed below, aimed at first-time TweetDeck users. Maybe we’ll have a more advanced class down the road.
What is TweetDeck, and why might I want to use it?
If you have a Twitter account already, you probably view and compose tweets through twitter.com. Tweetdeck is a separate Twitter product that offers a few advantages to simply using twitter.com. The most obvious advantage is that streams tweets in near-real-time, as opposed to twitter.com, which only tells you when new tweets are available to be viewed (“12 new Tweets”). The second advantage is that you can view multiple columns of tweets, rather than just your own timeline. Other columns can be lists, searches, even other users’ timelines. We’ll get to all that below.
How to Setup TweetDeck:
First, you’ll have to decide if you want to use the TweetDeck application for the desktop or TweetDeck for the web (i.e. in-browser). Tweetdeck for the web will live in a browser tab. The desktop application will be a separate application. Ries and I both use the desktop application. It’s not a huge deal which you choose— you can switch back and forth very easily.
To setup the desktop app: Visit tweetdeck.com and click the silver download button on the right.
To use TweetDeck in your browser: visit https://web.tweetdeck.com/
No matter which form (desktop or web browser) of TweetDeck you’ve chosen, the instructions from here on out are the same.
When you visit https://web.tweetdeck.com/ or open the application for the first time, you’ll be asked to sign in with your TweetDeck account. Note that this is different from your Twitter account. So you’ll need to create a TweetDeck account. But don’t panic. You’ll only have to log-in to Tweetdeck once and it will keep you logged in (almost) forever (click the checkbox that says “keep me logged in”). However, just this first time, you’ll need to create an account. You can use the same email and password as you do for your Twitter account.
You’ll now be asked to add your Twitter Account— here is where you log in as you would on twitter.com. Remember, Tweetdeck can handle multiple Twitter accounts, but most of you will just have your personal account.
OK, it’s setup. Now what?
Now that Tweetdeck is open, you’ll want to make some columns. Your far left column defaults to “Home,” which you’ll probably want to keep there as it is all the accounts you follow. This is the column you see at twitter.com when you’re logged in.
A good second column is “Interactions”— which you may know as the “Connect” screen on Twitter.com, which shows your @replies, etc.. To add a column for your interactions, click the circular button with a plus sign in the middle to add a new column. Then click “interactions” and select your account.
You may also want to add lists, like say, the Cheat Sheet source list we created. This is a bit trickier, but will become more intuitive.
How to Add a List as a New Column in Tweetdeck:
1. Go to twitter.com in your browser. Log in to your personal Twitter account.
2. Find The Daily Beast on Twitter (https://twitter.com/thedailybeast). Click the “Lists” link on the left. Scroll down and click on “CheatSheet”. You should find yourself at: https://twitter.com/thedailybeast/cheatsheet.
3. Click the Subscribe button on the left.
4. Go back to Tweetdeck. Click the plus button to add a new column. Go to “Lists”. Find and click on “CheatSheet” on the left and then click the “Add column” button.
Note: You can subscribe to as many lists as you like, and they obviously can be lists made by other users (not just @thedailybeast). You can also create your own lists.
The third type of column you may want to have is a simple search column. Say you want to see what people are tweeting about Sandy. The best way to do this is to follow the hashtag #Sandy. Again, click the add column button, now go to search and type in #Sandy. Click add column, and you should be all set.
Organizing Your Columns
The TweetDeck desktop application can display any number of columns from 3 to as many as you can fit on your monitor(s). To re-order your columns, click the “Columns” bar in the top middle of the application. You’ll see the title of your columns displayed in order. You can drag and drop them in to a desired order by clicking and holding on the 6 white squares on the right side of any column box.
Again, if you need help with any of this let us know.