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Friday, May 21, 2010

A Closer Look at Twitter’s Latest Features for Businesses

 Adam Ostrow/ Editor Mashable
American Express Small Business Forum.

May 19, 2010 -
Later this year, Twitter is expected to release a variety of features for business users, some of which have already been enabled for testing on a number of accounts. Recently, we were able to get an early look at some of the tools, and in turn have some ideas about how they might eventually be utilized by small businesses.
One of the big new features Twitter is working on is “Contributors”. We’ve known about it for a few months, and essentially it does what several third-party applications do: allows multiple users to post updates to a main account without the need for sharing that account’s login information.
While the benefits of letting multiple employees manage your business’s account is fairly obvious, the latter is an important addition from a security standpoint. It means that you’ll no longer have to share passwords, which, previously left your business account more susceptible to phishing, mistakes (users forgetting to log out), and the need to continually change passwords as employees come and go.
When Twitter launches “Contributors,” you’ll instead be able to simply add/remove people’s permissions on-the-fly.
Verified Accounts
Last year, Twitter introduced “Verified Accounts,” which allowed public figures like celebrities, politicians, and authors to claim their account and display a badge on their profile to alert followers that it is indeed authentic.
Now, those features will extend to businesses, allowing them to verify their identity so that customers know they are interacting with the right account. Just like the celebs, verified business accounts will get a “Verified Account” badge that shows up on their profile.
Direct Messages
Perhaps the most game-changing of Twitter’s business features is the ability to accept direct messages from anyone as opposed to just those you follow. Once enabled, that means that customers will no longer have to send @replies – which are public – to contact you on Twitter. You’ll then be able to reply to them via direct message, meaning your replies no longer need to be public – and hence visible to everyone – on your Twitter account. This stands to significantly change the way businesses interact with customers on Twitter.
Pricing is still to-be-determined on Twitter’s business accounts, but the company has clearly been evaluating how businesses use the service (and to an extent what third-party developers have already built and found success with) and designing features that solve obvious needs. Expect the features to be widely adopted by businesses, and start thinking about how you might go about using them once they become available to all.

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