Corporate Twitter Toolbox: Twitter Tools for the Enterprise
Twitter is a great listening post for companies to monitor conversations related to their brand and engage with customers; and there are a variety of tools available to help groups and corporations tweet, collaborate, and generally manage their Twitter() workflows. From tweeting and responding to customers to tracking the conversation and measuring the effectiveness of Twitter campaigns, there is a bevy of great tools out there for corporate tweeters. Finding the right Twitter applications is a challenge for social media managers, though, because new apps seem to spring up each day and they often have overlapping feature sets.
This is a list of the top Twitter tools to manage your social media engagement with your customers. While it isn’t a comprehensive list of every available tool, it does cover the market leaders in each category. Let us know in the comments which other tools you use to manage your professional Twitter workflow.
Preparing to Use Social Media
Before you start pouring resources into Twitter, the first thing you should do is make sure that’s where your customers actually are. Marketers can use the Forrester Profile Calculator to generate technographic profiles of their customers and how they are likely to use social media. This profile shows how many of your targeted customers are likely to be active in social media and further categorizes customers based on whether they are likely to create original content like blog posts and tweets or if they are just likely to read blogs, forums, or watch videos, etc. Companies can use this information as a way to develop an optimal social media plan and allocate resources to respond to comments.
Radian6 and Techrigy’s SM2 offer tools to help businesses find out where their customers are really talking. It’s important to figure out which social media tools your customers are using before you begin planning a social media campaign. Listen first before you engage.
Both tools have comparable functionality and are widely used, though SM2 has a simpler pricing model and excellent data manipulation and graphing capability, while Radian6 offers the unique capability to track impressions for each conversation on Twitter or blogs. This is useful for measuring the social media impact of that conversation across the social graph of a specific tweeter or blogger.
You can use these tools to identify who specifically are the social media influencers that talk about your brand, your industry, and your competition and you can plan to engage them on a more personal level. This is immensely useful for building evangelism programs by identifying your top customers active on social media.
Managing Your Twitter Presence
It offers support for multiple users to tweet from one account, multi-profile support for one user to tweet from multiple Twitter accounts, and supports groups, and in-depth reporting on each tweeted link.
Christine Jean Chambers, Interactive Producer and Online Media Planner for BET, uses Hootsuite to track which content is resonating with their audience. “For example, during the BET Awards ’09 in June, we took over the entire top 10 trending topics on Twitter, which is pretty extraordinary,” she said. “We monitored this flux of activity using Hootsuite and were able to gauge the success of the delivery of our content on Twitter precisely because of trackable links Hootsuite provides.”
Grace Suriel of the Discovery Channel’s Marketing Communications team, meanwhile, uses Hootsuite to manage both the @AnimalPlanet Twitter account and her personal account. She uses Hootsuite to track all Animal Planet mentions as well as mentions of any of their key series. “It’s great seeing how many people click on the links I tweet,” she said, “When something is a hit, it’s very exciting. When a link doesn’t perform as well, I see it as a challenge from @AnimalPlanet’s followers to point them to content that is more interesting, engaging and current.”
CoTweet is another web-based Twitter client built for the enterprise. It offers multi-user and multi-profile support, and integrated Bit.ly reporting. CoTweet is used by Jet Blue, Sun Microsystems, Starbucks, Whole Foods, and even Twitter itself.
Sumaya Kazi, Senior Social Media Manager at Sun Microsystems, who manages the @sunmicrosystems account, says “We love the fact that CoTweet integrates with Bit.ly because it offers seamless reporting of each tweet posted via CoTweet in our Bit.ly account.”
Jodi Brown, the Marketing & Interactive Director for Metro Canada, uses CoTweet because of its unique “Followup” feature. CoTweet has workflow built into it so you can tweet together as a team and assign a particular tweet to a particular team member for followup.
On the desktop, the two most popular clients among enterprise users are probably TweetDeck() and Seesmic Desktop(). Both clients have multi-profile support, so enterprise tweeters can use them to manage both personal and company Twitter accounts. They don’t have multi-user support like CoTweet and HootSuite, but they are each ideal choices for single community managers that need a robust desktop client.
Morgan Stanley of @JetBlue uses Seesmic Desktop because of its unique audible cues that are not present in other Twitter clients. This allows tweeters to set up different sounds when their brand is mentioned by a customer in an @reply vs. when it shows up in search. This can help users to prioritize when to interrupt other work to respond to a customer.
On the iPhone, both Twittelator() and Tweetie() are worthwhile choices for enterprise tweeters because they both support multiple profiles. Each has similar feature sets, so are favorites among serious Twitter users. Essentially, it will come down to your comfort level with the UI that will be the deciding factor for which one you decide to use.
Tracking the Conversation
Which tools you choose to track the Twitter conversation around your brand will depend on your goals and internal workflow. For example, if you use Twitter mainly to broadcast information about your brand you will have less of a need to respond to each tweet than if you plan to actively listen and provide support to your customers. Also internally, if your task is to collect daily statistics to share with multiple stakeholders you will want a tool that is very strong in reporting.
For many companies, the built-in Twitter Search() is robust enough for tracking brand mentions. Just enter your brand keywords or hashtags and watch tweets stream by in near real-time. The best part of Twitter search is that you can subscribe to an RSS feed of the search query results and respond to the tweets at different intervals of the day.
Twitter Grader is very useful for tracking and measuring the influence of a specific Twitter user. This can come in handy when figuring out who are the top influential social media tweeters to update on a new product launch. This can also help in deciding whether to react to a negative brand conversation by checking the influence of those who tweeted it.
Twazzup() and Twitturly InView can both be used to track tweets using particular hashtags. This can be useful for tracking a hashtag campaign, and because both allow you to track how many tweets were made with each hashtag within a particular period of time, they’re useful for A/B testing your messaging or campaigns for different audience segments in different timezones to see what works more effectively.
Let us know in the comments your experience with these Twitter tools and any others that you use.
by Sudha Jamthe
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