The Complete Guide on How to Build and Manage your Twitter Community with Commun.it By Ian Anderson Gray iag.meWe all lead busy lives and managing your social media channels is a good way to use upwhat little time we have. There is no doubt that one of the most powerful social networks atthe moment is Twitter.At the time of writing there are over 500 million users and more and more businesses andbrands are joining every hour of every day. Thats a lot of users!
Customer Relationships With so many users and so much noise, how do you make sense of it all? Who should you follow? Who is important or relevant to you? Who influences you? How do you make helpful contacts? How do you reach out to potential clients or customers? On its own, Twitter lacks many helpful features- and this is where a social media tool comes in handy- or to be more specific, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. Social networks are hugely powerful, but by themselves they are a very blunt tool.Photo by YabaWouldnt it be great if...1. You could monitor what people are saying about your business or brand?2. You could see who is linking to your website from tweets?3. You could discover new leads and people likely to engage with you and your brand/business?4. You could find out who your core community members are on Twitter and engage with them better?5. You could unfollow irrelevant Twitter followers who have no intention on engaging with you?6. You could find out who has followed or unfollowed you recently?7. You could segment your followers into groups to facilitate managing your community in a more powerful and useful way than Twitter lists allow?8. You could manage multiple Twitter accounts easily in one place?9. You could receive reports on how your community is doing?If you think you would find any of the above useful (and you should!), then readon...
Introducing Commun.it If youve spent any time on Twitter, you will be aware of several Twitter tools. In fact Ive lost count of the Twitter tools I have seen over the years. So as not to waste your time, Ill cut to the chase and recommend one that will definitely make your sociallife a lot easier. Its called Commun.it which has just come out of private beta and is a startup based in Tel Aviv, Israel.As you can probably guess from the name, its all about helping to build and manage yourTwitter community and making sense of it all. I was privileged to sign up not long after itwas launched in private beta in 2011. Its now open to all and has some big brands on theirbooks including Cisco, Sony, hp, Dell and Nike.I admit, that at first I was a little puzzled as to what Commun.it was supposed to do, butsuddenly it clicked and I realised how helpful it could be. Since then, the guys at Commun.ithave worked hard to improve the interface and the inner workings of it, and have been veryquick to implement new ideas.The fact that they are all really lovely people who are passionate about what they do is avery welcome change to previous experiences Ive had with IT-related companies. All 3founders (Mike Polischuk, Sharel Omer & Ran Margaliot) are from Israel, which is wheresome of the team from the fantastic scheduling tool, Buffer App are currently based. The Commun.it team- Mike Polischuk, Sharel Omer & Ran Margaliot
So, What is it then?Its all about relationships- making it easier to engage with your community, finding newleads and build and nurture your business community through a social dashboard. Socialmedia is all about relationships (or at least it should be!) and social networks can be usedpowerfully to maintain and build business relationships as well as help to communicate thebrand and message of your business.In a recent article on The Next Web by Robin Wauters heralding the launch of Commun.it inpublic beta, co-founder Sharel Omer was quoted:“Social media has become instrumental in maintaining all kinds of business relationships:with customers, prospects, partners and more. Yet, so far tools to support this kind ofrelationship building and management have been sorely missing.We aim to bring focus & clarity to businesses that use social media for maintainingrelationships, keeping the personal aspect of it while attaining clear ROI and workprocesses.”Commun.it facilitates the management of relationships on Twitter (and the hope for thefuture is other networks) in a similar way that MailChimp and SalesForce work in othertypes of online media.Interview with Mike PolischukIve given a brief intro to Commun.it, and I will go intomore detail later, but one of the co-founders ofCommun.it, Mike Polischuk, was very kind to answersome questions for this article. What better way to findout about Commun.it than one of the co-founders?!Ian: Hi! Can you introduce yourselves, where you arefrom and what you like to do for fun?Mike: I am Mike Polischuk, Commun.it co-founder. Im31, recently married, from Haifa (thats north of Israel).Aside from dealing with the product and thetechnological side of Commun.it, I love good movies(Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman, Wes Anderson) andoccasionaly write in my blog.Ian: Can you describe Commun.it in less than 140 characters?
Mike: Commun.it helps businesses & individuals to focus on relationships with thehighest ROI by analyzing their community.Ian: How would you describe Commun.it to the average internet user?Mike: Commun.it is the Priority Inbox for your relationships on Twitter. It sorts the importantones from all the others, helping you focus on those that matter, and reducing the stress.Ian: With so many apps out there, why should a business owner or marketing departmentuse Commun.it?Mike: Commun.it is the first solution that fuses community management, CRM and leadgeneration in a way that enables business-focused relationship management on Twitter.Social Media Examiner calls us #1 Relationship Management service.Ian: Can you tell me a little bit more about the team behind commun.it, where you are allfrom/based and what made you come up with the idea?Mike: The team is Sharel, Ran & Mike - we are all from Israel, and this is our first startup.The story goes back to our desire to help bloggers manage their community... but we soonrealized that the challenges that bloggers are facing, occurs to any business with onlinepresence - so we needed to think bigger - and this is how we became Commun.it.Ian: Whats the tech scene like in Israel? Can you tell us about what its like working there?How many other tech businesses are there?Mike: Israel is booming with startups, but since we have been working from home till now,its been much less fun than one could imagine :)Ian: How did you come up with the name?Mike: Community management is the soul of social media marketing, and the name reflectsour commitment to make community management a pleasure, not a drag.Ian: How has it been? Have you been pleased with the take up? Whats been encouragingand what has been discouraging?Mike: The biggest source of encouragement for us is our users, who constantly write, tweetand spread the word about Commun.it. Just see this stream of tweets about our integrationwith BufferIan: Can anyone sign up for commun.it?Mike: Yes, you can sign-up to Commun.it, its free and really easy to start using.
Ian: Can you tell me a little more about the technology behind Commun.it? Hosting,PHP/ASP/Ruby etc. Server location or do you use content delivery networks?Mike: Glad you asked :) We are writing the application using Ruby on Rails,the DB is MySQL and we are using dedicated hosting servers in the U.S. We currently dontuse CDNs.Ian: What are your plans for the future?Mike: We intend to add more social channels, and allow collaboration of team members.Ian: Apart from Commun.it, what other Twitter and social media tools do you use, love andrecommend?Mike: Did we mention Buffer? We love it, use it every day, and integrated with them justrecently.Ian: Will Commun.it always be for Twitter? How about other social networks?Mike: Facebook will be coming later this year :)Ian: How do you feel about Twitters recent API changes?Mike: We are watching closely the recent changes, and from our understanding they arecurrently not affecting us, since we are not in the dangerous "consumer-engagement"quarter.Id like to thank Mike for taking his time to respond to my questions.The Guide - What does Commun.it Do?Its all about focus. With so many Twitter followers toengage with, how do you find who is relevant to you?Commun.it has developed their own algorithms to scanyour followers to work out this relevance.When you log into Commun.it and add your Twitteraccount, your account is analysed and you arepresented with a dashboard divided into 6 categories:
1. Relationships,2. Followers,3. Groups,4. Monitor Engagement,5. Discover New Leads6. More1. Relationships CategoryThe Relationships category presents you with the followers that influence you or youengage with. These are the followers that either relate to you or you relate to them or both.You may have an idea of who these people are in your head, or perhaps you have beentech-savvy enough to have put these followers in a "relationship" Twitter list. The greatthing about Commun.it, is that it is dynamic and works out your influencers and engagedfollowers based on the data. Not only that, you can respond and engage with them straightthrough the dashboard!There are 4 relationship categories, or to be exact 3 categories since the "high value"category is a combination of the other 3ik: High-Value Members. This shows the core members of your community. It contains people you engage with, people who support and promote you as well as the people who influence you. Influencers. Commun.it gives you a list of the top influencers in your community- the people who influence you and other members of your community. It does this by
working out how often you have engaged with them as well as the ratio of their followers to people following them. Supporters. Commun.it describes supporters as helping you "spread the word by retweeting your statuses and sharing links to your content." Commun.it is a great way to thank and encourage your supporters for all their timeless work! Engaged Members. These members (funnily enough!) engage with you the most. Commun.it analyses how many mentions, retweets, direct messages and favourites as well as other data.You can engage with all these members straight through the dashboard. Commun.it lets youknow if one of the members has mentioned you and you havent responded- so you can reply to any left over conversations. I dont know about you- but this is such a usefulservice- and one that makes me come back to commun.it several times a day! You can evenadd the reply to your Buffer (if you use the Buffer App) so that the reply will be scheduledlater- at a time when your followers are more likely to be using Twitter. Another greatfeature (although one that you shouldnt overuse) is that Commun.it can let you thank andencourage members in each category by sending a tweet to a selection of them.Probably your first port of call, is the "prioritized feed" which shows you the most importanttasks for you to act upon. This is a combination of all the other sections and is probably agood place to start when you come to the dashboard.2. Followers CategoryThe followers category gives you a list of people you should consider following orunfollowing. It also displays a list of your recent followers and unfollowers. Consider to Follow. Commun.it gives you a selection of people it thinks would be good to follow. It does this based on their engagement level, influence and relevance. Ive been pretty impressed with the quality of the list that Commun.it provides.
Consider to Unfollow. Not everyone you follow will engage with you. Thats not necessarily an issue. There will be some people who dont engage with you that you are interested in. Commun.it gives a list of people it thinks you should consider unfollowing based on them not engaging with you and you not engaging with them. Its up to you what you want to do with this information, but again, its very interesting stuff. New Followers. This gives you a list of people who have recently followed you. Although this information is readily available (either on the Twitter website or in Twitter follower emails if you have subscribed to them), its useful to have this information here. You can zap off a welcome email to new followers very easily, by using the "Thank your New followers" function. I find this very useful, for although Id love to thank each new member for following, I just dont have the time. New Unfollowers. How dare they?! I know, I know, the sadness of it all, but it is a fact of Twitter life that you will be unfollowed by people. Quite often than not, you will get followed by someone whose only intent is that you follow them back. If you dont follow them back, or you are not quick enough about it, then they will unfollow you. This makes an interesting list, but I wouldnt worry too much about it. As the Commun.it guys are nice people they have decided not to give you a tweet box for this category, just in case you decided to send them a hate tweet asking why they unfollowed you! ;-)3. Groups CategoryThe groups feature allows you to manage your community by putting them into differentgroups, or "segmenting your community" as commun.it put it. Examples of groups could be"clients", "interesting people", "potential clients", "bloggers". These are not too disimilar toTwitter lists, but in my view, the commun.it groups feature is so much more powerful. Anifty feature is that you can import one or all of your Twitter lists to form a commun.itgroup. I found this especially useful as I was able to import my "community" Twitter list thatI had been managing for a while.One of these groups is called the "starred" group. You can add anyone into this group byclicking the star by their name- a great time saver.
4. Monitor Engagement CategoryI recently wrote about ways to monitor your brand using Twitter tools. Commun.it is one ofthe most powerful tools out there to monitor your brand or business. You can add up to 4items in the free version and as many as you like on any of the paid Commun.it plans.Examples of monitored items include hashtags, key phrases and links (urls) to pages on yourwebsite (or your competitors!). This is such an amazingly powerful tool and one that I useon a daily basis. It allows me to find out who has tweeted about my website so that I canthank them and engage with them, and it also allows me to monitor my hash tags and otherkey phases. Combine this with the reports feature (which I will come on to later) this is akiller feature!5. Discover New Leads CategoryAt first glance the "discover new leads" category looks very similar to the "monitorengagement" category in that you can add key phrases to monitor. What makes this
different, is that Commun.it finds people for you to follow based on your key phases. It doesthis based on the content of peoples biographies, conversations and interests. For exampleif you run a vegetarian cafe in Manchester you could add "vegetarian manchester" to findand engage with some potential customers who are vegetarian and are based inManchester.6. More Category - Hidden Members The final category currently only has one feature- hidden members. If you want to hide any members so that they wont show up in any of the Commun.it lists you can click on the "hide" button in any of the lists. If you do this, they will appear under hiddenmembers. If you make a mistake you are able to "unhide" them so that they can still appearin the Commun.it lists.Searching Twitter UsersSearching for Twitter members can bedone very easily through the Twitterwebsite (or any other Twitter app). Havinga search facility here in Commun.it is veryuseful as it enables you to easily add themto a Commun.it group or quickly see theirprofile information and other statistics.Commun.it ReportsIf you are after analytics and stats then Commun.it offer you two types of reports- youractivity report and engagement report. If you have a free account you can analyse the last 3days of activity. Pro and above accounts allow you to go further back in time with theprevious week and month or set your own custom dates.
Activity ReportThe activity report shows you a comparison of your activity over a set time scale (3 days,week, month, custom). This allows you to see clearly how your account is doing in terms ofengagement and activity. It shows you the number of mentons, retweets and directmessages you have received as well as the number of combined mentions and retweets.You can see how many people followed and unfollowed you and compare this with theprevious time period and see your follower growth.Its also useful to see how many tweets youve created and how many times youvementioned people or retweeted.Engagement Report The engagement report allows you to see who has engaged with you over the specified time period. This can be people who have mentioned you or who have mentioned one of your monitored keywords or phrased. In the list it shows you their name, photo, rating score, follower count, engagement count, whether you or they follow you and the number of statuses for the particular engagement you are monitoring.
Commun.it Plans- Pro and Business Accounts and TeamsThere are 4 plans on offer which should suit most situations. The free version is great forindividuals or any business just wanting to test it out. The free version allows you to workwith 1 Twitter account and has a limitation of a 3 day reports period, 4 monitored/leaditems and a 30 member weekly engaged member limit. Its worth saying that you can get a14 day trial on any of the plans which should give you enough time to try it out and see howyou get on with it.For most small businesses the Pro or business plans should suit. The advantage of thebusiness and corporate plans are that apart from allowing unlimited Twitter profiles, youcan invite other team members to manage one of your Twitter accounts through theirCommun.it account. This is hugely powerful as you can delegate tasks amongst your socialmedia or marketing team or allow a social media agency to manage some of your accounts.The Business allows 2 team members which should be enough for most business needs, butlarger businesses may need to take the plunge and opt for the corporate plan. Whilst $199per month may seem like a lot to some, it really isnt when you take into account mostmarketing budgets and when compared to other enterprise plans such as Hootsuites whichcosts around $1500 per month.
Being able to manage multiple Twitter accounts is really useful, as you can quickly switchbetween accounts to reply and engage with your communities. You can even compose astandard Tweet from each account.For further information, have a look at the Commun.it plans page.