What's happening in meetings I've been in here is likely similar to what's happening in other corporations: People are gathering to figure out how to use, exploit, or simply not get their companies embarrassed on Twitter. But no matter what we agree to in these rooms (which, in my experience, isn't much), one thing is sure: You can't manage a major corporate Twitter presence on Twitter.com itself. Nor, for that matter, can you in one of the popular client apps like Tweetdeck or the current Seesmic Desktop. You need something built for customer service or brand management. New tools are emerging for just that.
The two I recommend are Invoke's HootSuite, which is in open beta right now (version 2.0 is in private beta), and CoTweet, which is still closed. I've tried them both.
The products have much in common. Both allow you to control and monitor multiple Twitter accounts, and give other people access to those accounts as you see fit. In both, you can maintain password control of your Twitter accounts -- users need only know their HootSuite or CoTweet login to see their assigned accounts and reply on your company's behalf. You can add or take people off accounts without having to get into the weeds in Twitter itself.
Both products let you post from any of your configured Twitter accounts, or all of them together if you like. And the both support the automatic addition of "cotags," like the short, signed bylines (example: "^RN" for Rafe Needleman) you're beginning to see in multi-person corporate Twitter accounts. You can also set up posts to go out at future times in both products, nice for running rudimentary marketing campaigns.
Both give you stats on links you share from the service. HootSuite uses its own shortener, ow.ly, and its stats are very deep. CoTweet uses the capable Bit.ly but displays only the most rudimentary stats from that service, unfortunately.
HootSuite: Power tool with torque
HootSuite is the geekier tool, and it's more powerful than CoTweet in some ways. The 2.0 version (due out by July) supports multiple columns, like Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop. Its statistics, as I said, are deep. It can show you things like the most influential re-tweeters of your links.
HootSuite will also monitor RSS feeds and send headlines out in your Twitter feeds automatically. That's a pretty slick feature. I've used Twitterfeed to do that in the past (that's how the @Webware feed works), but like the idea of integrating the RSS harvester into a more comprehensive tool.
In the user management category, HootSuite lets you follow or unfollow people from within the client, as well as report spammers to Twitter HQ with one button click.
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