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interaction(Read time = ~2 minutes) Twitter is (has become) the newest, shiny outbound toy.  Marketing wants a piece… so does the PR team… and Marcom, AR/IR… and don’t forget all those content experts.  One of the most important requirements to grow a meaningful B2B Twitter follower list, is cadence… having a consistent/regular content flow.  Frequency is one key to drivingfollowers, but it’s a frustrating aspect for many companies starting up a Twitter strategy.  One solution: multiple users tweeting from a single account where the collective blends into an orchestrated voice around a central focus.

All well and good, but how to retain some reasonable management of the process?  Here’s a look at five tools aimed at solving this practical business issue, as well as two “brute strength” approaches.  Hoping others will weigh-in with solutions I’ve not yet undiscovered.

Six Alternatives for Business Teams to Twitter Collaboration

Co-Tweet:   In public beta. Their promotional tagline:  “How business does Twitter”.  Great promise, but the practical delivery still lacks some essentials.  Tweet copy, once scheduled, cannot be edited (gotta delete then re-enter if you want to change anything); no real collaboration possible (ie can’t edit copy between users); Good future scheduling; easy set-up with both admin and user designations. Friendly but still lacking features.

Hootsuite: Trying to be “one size fits all”:  analytics package + multi-user management package.  Tweet scheduling feature (a “pending” column) w/editing.  Co-tweeting from a single account: yes via the “add editors” function;  groups/sorting.  Stats BUT ONLY if you use Hootsuite’s own embedded URL shortener. Personally, I like analytic options from other tools better.  Not (for me) as intuitive as Co-Tweet but a larger feature set.

Twitter Account w/Shared Password.  Low tech solution and probably still, one of the most practical.  Set up a Gmail (or other) email address so no need to burden your regular business email account.  Set up a generic Twitter account and then just share sign-on/password to the designated group of users.  Add-on apps can be found for scheduling, etc.  Not exactly eloquent and requires some trust and manual management processes, but it works.

Twitter Groups:  Twitter does not provide any group feature, but third-party solutions have filled this void.  For purposes here, a group could be created (almost like a blog site) and then tweets could originate from the group setting via a single Twitter account.  Content, editing, etc. occurs w/in the group setting, virtual to Twitter itself.  The other obvious application would be to use the group function as a means for audience community segmentation (but that’s another blog post/discussion all together). Some group tools include: TweetWorks, TwitTangle and Twingr.  One other interesting approach:  use twhirl and its Friendfeed support for “rooms” then a Twitter feed out from FriendFeed.

Tweetfunnel  (Real-tiime update 9/9:  Tweetfunnel folx just advised that they’ve added support for BudURL and saved searches) Public beta version free for the testing. “The Twitter Tool for Team Tweeting” (catchy).   Uses a “publisher/contributor” model for editorial control. Features:  approve and post, scheduling, editing, assignments, tracking of bit.ly URLs, feedback forums;  What’s not currently integrated:  RSS feeds, shortened URLs other than bit.ly, brand mentions/keyword watch.  Useful FAQ and a blog for conversation.

EasyTweet:   Paid service so I haven’t spent the $$ to test/try.  From their homepage, promises:  tracking, SMS alerts, scheduling, RSS tracking, multiple account management. From the site blog, you can get to a promo video/tour.  The blog also provides some deeper insights into features/functionality. No free trial that I saw.

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Personally, I think the tools aren’t yet fully prime-time ready for enterprise use.  Beta means beta but this is one solution that’s critical to enable B2B adoption.  Maybe I’ve missed the one tool that’s the magic bullet – if so, please clue me in and share.  Add this to the “business must have” list, along w/practical/meaningful metrics, valuation models (what’s a Facebook friend worth), and an account layering strategy.

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