Followbase: A Twitter CRM Starter Kit

FollowbaseAlthough there is no shortage of businesses large and small making great use of Twitter, many are still trying to make heads-and-tales of how to harness its power to communicate with existing and prospective clients. CoTweet and HootSuite are trying to meet this opportunity with feature-rich CRM applications, but for businesses who are Twitter newbies, these apps can be daunting.

Followbase saw this opportunity-within-an-opportunity and designed a simple, bare-bones Twitter CRM app that could form a stepping stone to the more heavy-duty apps.

All you need to do to get started with Followbase is to connect it with a Twitter account. Twitter’s standard 3rd-party OAuth approval is used here to ensure the user is the actual account owner. Followbase then begins scanning the stream and funnels tweets into four customer service oriented topics: Mention, Ideas, Problems and Questions.

Tweets under each topic column are displayed with threaded replies as well as highlighting for the main account and additional team members. The columns are formed automatically, based on the usage of the “?” operator and keywords found in the body of the tweets. Examples include: idea, feature, suggestion, bug, issue, fail, etc.

Followbase attempts to deal with false positives in sense that phrases such as “any idea…” or “no idea…” do not end up classified under the Ideas column. If a tweet was accidentally mis-categorized, it can then be moved manually.

If you’re wondering whether there are any semantic or sentiment analyses, the answer is no. Nir Buschi, founder of Followbase, says that a 3rd party semantic engine could be integrated down the road but right now the focus is on keeping the entire experience as simple as possible for newbies.

Additional features expected to be rolled out in the near future include domain aliasing, customization of look & feel, custom search lists, and issue management.

Followbase is currently a free service, but I can certainly see it scale into a freemium model where it could charge small and medium businesses $10-20 per month.