Creating Your Own Twitter Groups with Twittbot [Review]

Today social media and content strategist Kari Rippetoe, author of The Caffeinated Blog, reviews group Twittering app Twittbot.

Do you have a Twitter account for your company, and would like to give employees access to post to it? Would you like to start your own Twitter group and allow others to join and post their own relevant tweets? Twittbot may just be what you’re looking for.

What is Twittbot?

According to the website (twittbot.com), “TwittBot is a service that allows multiple people to publish to a single Twitter account, and for a single person to post to multiple Twitter accounts.” Developed by app developer Nick Davis (@davinic), it’s a free service that just launched in open beta on December 4th.

How Does it Work?

By creating a Twittbot account using your current Twitter username and password, you can allow others to post to that account with a simple @ reply. This allows you to create your own groups on Twitter. You can keep the group (or “bot”) closed (meaning that only authors that you allow will be able to post tweets to the account), or open it up for anyone to post.

The Test

To test this out, I created a Twitter account called coffeelinks (for my inner coffee geek). I kept the coffeelinks bot closed and invited others to join my group. I added those who were interested as authors, as shown below (click to enlarge):

twittbot.jpg

I then told all allowed users to post links to coffee-related news, recipes, reviews, etc. to @coffeelinks. When they did, it showed up on the coffeelinks Twitter profile like this:

coffeelinks.jpg

The post is preceded by the author’s username, so you can see who is posting to the account. I’m able to monitor the status of all posts through the Twittbot user interface and decide whether or not to publish a certain post. I can unpublish posts, or even allow authors who aren’t on my list (since the bot is closed).

twittbot-2.jpg

The Verdict

Overall, I think Twittbot is a useful tool. It makes “group tweeting” and community-building via Twitter pretty easy – either for a company that wants a new way to engage customers on Twitter, or an individual who wants to start a Twitter group around his/her hobby. Twittbot does, however, have a little way to go before it becomes the robust group Twittering tool that I know it can be.

Looking through the user interface, there are quite a few bits that are still in development and “coming soon” – such as pro settings for auto-following, spam filtering, and update frequency. Also, once you’re in the UI, there are no links to help documentation or even back to the Twittbot homepage (where you’ll find a link to the tutorial). While the UI is pretty intuitive, it wasn’t entirely clear to me how to do certain things (like post to more than one account), and I ended up having to send a tweet to Nick Davis for his help. To his credit – he did respond quickly and with clear instructions for a single user who wants to post to more than one account.

Another drawback is that it can take up to 10 minutes for a post to be published to an account. One of the coffeelinks group members pointed this out to me – he mentioned that he posted a link to @coffeelinks; but it wasn’t showing on the @coffeelinks page. It eventually did; but I think 10 minutes is a bit long to wait in the Twitterworld.

What I’d Like to See

What I’d eventually like to see is a better way to manage multiple Twitter accounts through one Twittbot interface – and clearer instructions for doing so. As far as help documentation goes, I’d like to see a help section fleshed out and added to the UI for easy access – without having to go back to the homepage.

I’d also like to see options for how authors’ usernames are shown on tweets they post. Currently, they’re shown in parentheses at the beginning of the tweet. Depending on how you plan to use this tool, you may instead want author usernames to appear at the end of the tweet, or perhaps not appear at all (useful if you have several people at your company posting to a single company Twitter account; but you want tweets on that account to all show as coming from the company rather than individual employees).

Twittbot has a lot going for it, and a lot of potential as well. I recommend taking a look at it if you’re interested in building your own Twitter community.

Comments

  • December 17, 2008

    Very interesting service, but still lacks some features which I think will be addressed in future.

  • December 17, 2008

    As I understand it, from recent advice from the “in the know” tech people, programs–like this–are not secure. Isn’t that a major draw back???

  • December 17, 2008

    Forgot to mention (sorry lack of sleep) that they are not secure because you have to give your twitter id AND your password. And that’s what makes them not good for security reasons.

  • December 17, 2008

    Hi Darren,
    I suggested to use Twittbot at a company so that distant people working
    on a same project should tweet progress, status, needs, resources and so on.
    When the question about privacy arrived I did not have an answer…
    The same with our software developer vendors. Sensitive data needs to
    be shared and they asked me to build an Intranet Twitter!

  • December 17, 2008

    Looks like a cool service with some interesting features in it. I would like to try this.
    I came across another service justtweetit.com which helps to find twitter Users Like you on Twitter Directory. Though this is not completely similar to the one above i feel it will also help to find the people of yours choice and network with them.

  • December 17, 2008

    This might be a nice way to put names and faces to a company profile. You still get the brand of your company accross but those following get a feel for the people behind the tweets.
    I might watch and learn for a while before deciding whether or not to set this up…
    Thanks Kari

  • December 17, 2008

    It amazes me the trouble people go through just to have groups on twitter. The problem with the services focused on twitter groups is that they are most likely going to die when twitter adds groups. But I recognize Twittbot has potential for other stuff too so maybe this one will stay alive.

  • December 17, 2008

    Hi,
    This is an awesome tool. The business possiblities a numerous.

    Regards,
    Brent

  • December 17, 2008

    its look great, whit the time it will become hard to see and use soomuch apps it will be cool a app to that do all of that at ones.

  • December 17, 2008

    I have not seen anything like this before so I will be definitely checking it out. It looks like something that could benefit being a marketer.

  • December 17, 2008
    Kari Rippetoe
    @karirippetoe

    Thanks for your comments, everyone (and thanks to Darren for giving me the opportunity to review this app)!

    One thing I’d like to point out is there are a couple of tabs shown in the Twittbot screenshots that I didn’t talk about (Widgets and Update History). Reason being they are both “coming soon”. Those will certainly be interesting to see when they are released!

  • December 17, 2008

    Kari, thanks for taking the time to try TwittBot and write your review!

    If any of you have issues or suggestions, please send them my way either via Twitter at @davinic or to nick@twittbot.com.

    One correction: we have now set the default update time to 5 minutes for all accounts. This may change again in the future. We’re looking to integrate with a data provider so that we can get realtime notifications (push) of @replies, rather than relying on polling Twitter every n minutes.

    And we definitely have planned the ability to customize the repost format, as well as a bayesian spam filter for open bots and integration with Twitter’s spam procedures.

  • December 17, 2008

    It’s almost like having a number of authors for a microblog. I can actually get funny very quickly. having them chat back and forth…..people would hop on just to see what was going on.

  • December 17, 2008

    At one of my sites, http://popwreckoning.com, we use it for all the authors to liveblog shows, etc. Then we use the Twitter WordPress plugin to show all the tweets on the blog.

  • December 17, 2008

    This would be interesting for me. I’d love to start a beer group, but isn’t Twitter coming up with something like this? I thought they were adding groups to twitter?

  • December 17, 2008
    Kari Rippetoe
    @karirippetoe

    @DJ There’s been talk of it, and I believe Twitterers in Japan already have that capability. For now, this works pretty well. Plus, you can make your groups open or closed, which is handy depending on what you’re using it for.

  • December 19, 2008

    I like the idea of this tool. I created an account with Twittbot, but I haven’t been able to log in. What’s up with that!

  • December 19, 2008

    This looks pretty good, but isn’t this already being done rather well by freindfeed in which you can create a room (public or private). It’s a good idea, so I’ll be interested to see if Twitter come up with a killer new unique feature around this.

    I’m still looking out for a micro forum platform, where you can create your own tweet-like social network/communication system. Kind of like a cross between twitter and ning or something like that.

  • December 25, 2008

    I’m happy to report that Nick has added functionality to set how the author name is displayed on each post, per the suggestion I made in the review.

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