What Brands Want From A Twitter Client

After chatting with Loic today of Seesmic, we discussed what brands may want from Twitter.  It’s true, I’m getting more client calls from the world’s top brands about how to use tools like Twitter as a collective team. Based upon my discussions with them, here’s what I see are some key needs in:

What Brands Want In a Twitter Client:


  • Ability to quickly scan what is being said about the brand, products, services, employees and competitors. Although difficult expect sentiment tools to appear that help brands with thousands of mentions manage the discussion.
  • Ability to understand who is saying what, and understand their influence.


  • Manage multiple accounts (Dell has about 35 seperate accounts) from a central team.
  • Enable employees to tweet from their account: BestBuy created a custom CMS systems that allows approved employees to tweet to the main BestBuy account with a specific hashtag


  • Triage incoming requests and topics to the appropriate teams for followup, much like a CRM system
  • Tag and flag these requests, denote and track who responded to what, when and what are the end results.


  • These point solutions should integrate with other system such as brand monitoring, CRM systems
  • The savvy companies will aggregate the discussion in Twitter about their products on their corporate website, making them more relevant.  Zappos was an early adopter, yet Skittles went too far.


  • Enable multiple employees to post to single Twitter accounts (like a CMS system) some may have approval systems.
  • Keep track of which employee tweeted and when, build in workflow as global teams will need to work together to respond to customers.
  • Update: A few folks in the comments have requested a publishing timer, where folks could preschedule tweets.


  • Brands must be accountable of corporate resources, every resource is an investment and reports about time-to response, number of followers, number of mentions and sentiment will matter.
  • Be able to benchmark all of the above and deliver time based reports.

There’s a few companies that are emerging that can do bits and pieces of this, but I’ve yet to see anyone vendor meet this.  From the brand monitoring side, Radian 6 and to some degree Scoutlabs can do listening and workflow.  CoTweet and Hootsuite are often discussed in the corporate context, yet many personal usage is tied between Tweetdeck, Seesmic Desktop (formerly Twirl) and Peoplebrowser.

 Want more business case studies, I’ve read the proof of Twiterville by Shel Israel, it’s loaded with business case studies and written in a great story telling format, it’s going to be a desktop reference for me once it publishes. 

Although it’s Sunday, I’m on way up to San Francisco to the Twtrcon conference on the closing debate panel, where I’ll be arguing a contrarian position in Kara Swisher’s panel, I’ll make the case that Twitter doesn’t matter: instead we should focus on trends, and that Twitter is overhyped, I said the same thing at my 140TC keynote last week, Joe has the details.  Should be fun. 

Are you managing a corporate Twitter account? Leave a comment
Enough from me, what features to corporations want in Twitter clients, please leave your thoughts and needs below.

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39 Replies to “What Brands Want From A Twitter Client”

  1. I would add the following features
    1) the ability to get suggested users lists based on keywords/topic/hashtags/brand names -whatever works
    2) the ability to associate a Twitter account to multiple users/emails so that all users gets alerts for the same one account
    3) the ability to show the link among different profiles (e.g. BrandBlog profile/Brand Promo profile/Brand CRM profile)
    4) the ability to upload email lists/mobile phone numbers and follow users who match
    Probably some of the clients you mentioned do most of this stuff, but no one seems to have all those features.

  2. Good list of criteria, a good number of which are still applicable for small businesses/solopreneurs as well. I would add the ability to fully manage a “library” of useful/previously approved Tweets, that can then be (re)scheduled for later. TweetLater seems to have rolled out a lot of that capability, maybe not quite in the large brand/workflow/Customer Mgmgt sense that you talk about.

  3. Jeremiah,
    This is a good overview on what other industry can achieve from powerful tool like Twitter. I am working on various aspects of Twitter driven ideas and I agree with your points. We have implemented some of the ideas in our website called http://www.shopnics.com. Online shoppers can view streams from twitter related to the product. We have also enables online shoppers to get a collaborative view of the deals floated in twitter streams. I think more challenge to collaborate this data in the context.

  4. First, I want to say that I’m so excited to see this list of questions in the first place. It seems like corporations are finally done asking “What is Twitter” and now are moving onto “How can Twitter help us.”

    My use of Twitter changes weekly both if form and frequency. I’m pretty happy with TweetDeck’s multi-column search function. I use it to search for events or topics I’m interested in (as opposed to vague genres). But I’m constantly searching for the various Firefox plugins, Blackberry tools, and desktop products to fill other gaps.

    It looks like there’s a race to the finish line for the ultimate Twitter tool now. I’m looking forward to seeing who pulls out front.

  5. Hi Jeremiah,

    You’re missing a couple of other solutions playing in this space as well. Our application, ChatterBox (http://www.chatterboxhq.com) and one that was also demoed at #140tc, TweetFunnel (http://www.tweetfunnel.com/) are not listed.

    When I look across the solutions mentioned here, each has taken its own approach to addressing the challenges of interacting with social media and social networks for brands, individuals, teams and power users. My guess is each product will have features, an interface, etc. that works best for specific types of use cases and we will not get to an end state with one ultimate Twitter tool. That™s not to say that there will not be some favorites.

    Perhaps it would be useful to instead of trying to create a master list of pet features that every brand has to have in their Twitter tool, we should instead look at the specific use cases and what is required to meet the challenges and opportunities those users are facing. Most companies I know, while they have similarities, are not all trying to solve the exact same problem. Perhaps having powerful customer service capabilities is most critical, maybe it™s campaign management or maybe it™s team collaboration. In doing this, my guess is we will uncover a different set of criteria than just a feature checklist.


  6. Jeremiah:

    I think you did a solid job capturing the key items in your list. Workflow is definitely a key one for us… Radian6 is doing some good work there to help, but agree that being able to segment tweets by topic would be a big help for brands.

    on the monitoring side, Activated searches in Twhirl (and now Seesmic Desktop) are hugely useful, plus it’s free functionality.

    And the other key part of workflow like you mentioned is allowing multiple folks to contribute to a single Twitter account, like we’re doing for @Dell_Mini.

    All that said, tools like Twhirl and Seesmic Desktop can only help to a point. Some advancements will be dependent on Twitter itself.


  7. Great post Jeremiah. The workflow and reporting aspects of managing Twitter accounts are definitely a challenge. Hootsuite has turned out to be a pretty useful tool.
    I think a TweetDeck-like dashboard with CRM functionality for all team members would be wonderful. I’m visualizing:

    A column where the monitoring tool shows me all I need to know: trends, sentiment analysis.

    The ability to group tweets based on topic and tag/assign/email them to the relevant teams. A way to see action taken.

    A la Google analytics style of exporting key information (followers, mentions, sentiment, predictions) onto PDF/XML formats to send out to management and other stakeholders.

    My sense is that just as 3rd party apps sprung to cater to individual requirements on Twitter, we will see a spurt in apps that will help in the corporate context.

  8. I don’t know everyone that commented but it’s important to recognize Lionel and Ed from Dell and Wells Fargo on the brand/buyer side.

    Thanks for the comments all, if you’re from the buyer side, and want to indicate that, it’s helpful in showing feature need, thanks.

  9. I would add these features to the wish list:

    -Trend different words and hashtags
    -Separate “corporate” from organic traffic
    -Schedule tweets

  10. Alex, I thought about publishing timers, but am not sure that’s a best practice just yet, isn’t that more of broadcasting? I think it makes sense as part of the strategy, but not as the entire use.

    Puja, I’ve yet to see a solid sentiment tweet analysis tool, I suspect much of this will still need to be manual.

  11. Jeremy,

    You should add Sysomos to your list of social media listening, monitoring and analytics tools. Our MAP and Heartbeat products include the ability to measure sentiment and identify key influencers.


  12. Jeremiah,

    The list of items that brands now want from Twitter grows every week. In addition to your sizable list, some of the other big issues include measuring the influence and reach of brand messages shared across the network and how to track and analyze the impact from Twitter to other non-Twitter communities. I agree with Lionel, threading together all comments on a single topic and being able to categorize them by issue is also huge. There is a lot of exciting new product development coming in this area soon.

    Mike Spataro
    Visible Technologies

  13. I would appreciate a function that allows a tweet to be published via more than one twitter account at either the same time or based on schedule.

    Would be handy, e.g. for maintenance announcements that should published via all corporate twitter accounts and not just on a single one, for example “support”.

  14. Jeremiah, as always, thanks for sharing the insights in such a clear way. I can’t wait for folks to see Twitterface. We have designed it so that on the surface (to page visitors) it can be used as a promotional tool that they can link to and show all the real-time conversations happening about their brands, and after we get the Beta out (in a few weeks) we will be working on features for companies that address some of the things you mention here such as sentiment and other types of intelligence. We want to make it a business portal into Twitter’s data. We will also provide custom coding services to hook to databases and for using Twitter in a functional way, but one thing I have not really explored much is what you’re saying regarding what Best Buy has done with the hashtags. I can’t wait to get the product out there so we can have some relevant conversations about what else companies need to do business using Twitter as a tool.

  15. @susuh- If I follow a company’s CEO, I want to hear what he or she has to say. If I want support updates from this company, I will follow their support account. Homogenizing multiple accounts seems to take away from the very reasons each separate account was each set up in the first place.

  16. Thanks for sharing that list, Jeremiah. It all makes sense and it is all stuff that I have been hearing too, except perhaps for the timer feature. I’m not a fan of automated tweets largely because I think it is important for brands to genuinely and personally engage with their customers (and not broadcast to an “audience”). Twitter is still a conversational medium. Conversation, once automated, isn’t really conversation anymore.

    Glad to see Ed & Lionel adding their thoughts here too.

    Marcel LeBrun
    CEO, Radian6

  17. But do they need twitter to do it? Companies like Dell need twitter to be visible on the microblogging scene, but what about internal needs? Many brands are quiet paranoid about their datas, not sure they would use the twitter “channel” to do their stuff, maybe seesmic and others should developped other kind of channels for internal needs and to connect it with the functions you just described…

  18. Given the contraints of saying something sensible in a tweet with <140 characters, we will need a very capable linguistic engine to analyze and make sense of people’s shorthand writing. Much is implicit rather than explicit in the tweets I see…. Speaking for myself, I can’t always understand people’s tweets — and I’m applying a highly nuanced human brain to the language processing! As a result I suspect we’ll have to accept high degrees of inaccuracy in the categorization of tweets (by sentiment, meaning, trending, etc.) by automated processing platforms.

    I’d love to see the capabilities people have identified in this forum, but am a bit of a skeptic about the quality that can be delivered semantically, given the constraints of this micro-blogging medium.

  19. Jerimiah,

    Great list. I’d like to throw the nod towards simplicity, good design, and some diversity in your mix of clients. Having complete functionality is great if you need to do all those things, but if your system is bulky, difficult to use/understand, or a time sink, it’s frustrating.

    We’ve also seen brands expanding their Twitter teams to 5, 10 20 people and I can’t imagine everyone doing the exact same thing on those teams. Perhaps a mix of clients/tactics makes the most sense to a team. Hockey teams need fighters, stick handlers, skaters, and shooters.


  20. Maybe it’s implied in the CMS specs but just in case: The compliance needs of our asset management clients will requires robust archiving and retrieval a la what’s required for all company email communications.

    Thanks for the post.

  21. The reporting is where most of the dashboards, and clients fail at right now. I don’t think we’ll see the reporting we want until it’s a mix of client + something similar to the Stumbleupon bar on the actual site itself.

  22. Good list – I’m not a majour corporate user, but I would love to use most of those features:

    I’d also add an integrated way to track clickthrough and trackback metrics from posts.

  23. All the features listed are really key not only for twitter, but all social media platforms. Twitter is but one arrow in the quiver. While it would be nice to have this all occur including reporting via a single dashboard or Twitter plugin, at the end of the day the tools can only be supplemented by the human touch. Even the very best designed sentiment analysis tool will never be able to decide for you whether you want or need to repsond to an action on a site like Twitter.

    Really like the elements behind workflow, integration and conversing they are extremely critical areas to focus on.

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