There are some key differences between the three services. TweetDeck, which started life as an independent app, was acquired by Twitter last year. It draws feeds from Twitter and Facebook but doesn't work with LinkedIn, a business-oriented network that's geared for professional contacts and job searches.
TweetDeck started as a program that users download to their own computers. It now offers a Web-based version for two browsers, Apple's (AAPL) Safari and Google's Chrome, but doesn't work with Internet Explorer or Firefox.
Since the acquisition, some longtime users have complained that Twitter changed the TweetDeck interface and made the iPhone version balky. But a reporter's trial on an Android phone found no obvious problems.
For more flexibility, some users prefer Seesmic, which has Web versions for all the major browsers. It also incorporates feeds from LinkedIn and Salesforce Chatter, a business-oriented service designed to let co-workers chat and collaborate on projects.
Seesmic has other handy features: Users can click a button to easily set up "filters" that sort Twitter streams by topic or key word. And as you scroll through the posts in your Twitter feed, Seesmic displays each person's "Klout" score, determined by another company that measures online influence based on followers, re-tweets and other factors.
But Seesmic, which has evolved from its start as a video-sharing service, is changing its business model again. Le Meur, the founder, said last week that the company will discontinue its Web dashboard in coming months, while focusing on a mobile product for Android and another service called Ping. The latter lets users post to multiple accounts, but doesn't allow monitoring different feeds.
Those who want more capabilities may consider HootSuite, which offers a wide range of options for users to configure their dashboards. That can make it daunting at first, but the interface is easy to use once it's set up.
HootSuite also has a variety of "analytics" tools for businesses and marketing professionals who want to track online reputations or the effectiveness of Internet campaigns. While some are free, most are part of the HootSuite premium packages, which start at $5.99 a month.
So far, none of the services take feeds from individual Google+ accounts, although HootSuite's higher-end version incorporates Google+ Pages, which are used by businesses. Seesmic's Le Meur said he'd like to add Google+ but Google has not yet released the programming tools.
Many casual social networkers may conclude they're getting along fine without these services, especially as Twitter and other networks add their own features to stay competitive. Twitter and Facebook already let their users cross-post from one to the other, as do Twitter and LinkedIn.
And there are dozens of apps from independent developers that let users link to outside material, track their tweets or add other features to their social media accounts. Lasica, who runs the consulting firm Socialmedia.biz, said he's seeing more individuals adopt basic tools to manage their lives online.
"More and more of our lives are becoming digital," he added. "We want to keep our finger on the pulse of the real-time Web, and we want to have our own content noticed and discovered."
Several free services help users organize feeds and post updates to multiple social networking accounts. Here are three:
www.hootsuite.com Basic version is free (ad supported); pro version is $5.99 (allows archival of tweets); available for mobile and desktop
www.seesmic.com In beta version and currently free; available for mobile and desktop
www.tweetdeck.com Free; available for mobile and desktop
Source: Mercury News reporting
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