Twitter gets personal with business as it tests first commercial features
Twitter is to start rolling out some of the business features it hinted at in October beginning with something called it is calling “contributors”. It is a feature that Twitter says will allow users to “engage in more authentic conversations” with businesses.
The “contributors” feature is a pretty powerful little change, but it is going to be a really welcome one and could have major ramifications to how business uses Twitter.
Simply put it will allow businesses and other organisations (thinking of political parties with elections looming) that have multiple people using the same account to add their own user name to a tweet. It’s about making it more personal.
Pretty simple, but if you’re contacting an airline or a big retailer it is nice to know you spoke to Gerry or Susan rather than some impersonal voice answering back from some large amorphous Twitter entity.
Next time you contact them it would be nice/useful/faster to contact the same person again. That’s how relationships form and they are key to how businesses can succeed in social media.
It’s what Twitter is all about on the non-corporate level: personal one to one communication.
Writing on the Twitter blog Anamitra Banerji from the product team says: “The feature we are beta testing is called ‘Contributors’ – it enables users to engage in more authentic conversations with businesses by allowing those organizations to manage multiple contributors to their account.
“The feature appends the contributor’s username to the tweet byline, making the business to consumer communication more personal; e.g. if @Twitter invites @Biz to tweet on its behalf, then a tweet from @Twitter would include @Biz in the byline so that users know more about the real people behind organizations.”
It could also be a big help to businesses that have had employees starting numerous different accounts. It could streamline the whole process and allow a business to cut down on the number of accounts it has and better manager them. Clearly, different things will for different businesses.
The feature is going into limited beta test so I guess we will see certain of Twitter’s large business customers start to use it any day now. It also says that the functionality will be fully supported by the API and will enhance the many Twitter business apps, “such as CoTweet and HootSuite”.
The post says several other features are in development; some of which it says will be visible to regular users and some of them will not. These must be the analytics tools that Biz Stone talked about in October.
“You’ll be able to pay for an additional layer of access to learn more about your Twitter account to get some freed back to get some analytics to help you become a better twitter,” Stone said.
@anamitra said Twitter would be looking for basic feedback from business users and ecosystem partners.
“The beta will be released to a limited subset of folks for some time so that we can get an idea of how the features work from a system perspective. After we kick the tires a bit, we’ll do a full launch to all business users and ecosystem partners.”
It is going to be interesting to see if some of these features it is testing will later be paid for or if it plans to give some away to business users and allow them to upgrade to premium accounts that provide tools to improve how they use the service. Another question springs to mind also: how do you define what/who is a business user? I guess paying for these services would sort that issue out pretty quickly whether you are a business or simply an organisation that has multiuser Twitter accounts.