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9/25/2012
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HootSuite Conversations Tool Adds Collaboration Features

Free HootSuite tool, out now in beta form, lets you conduct real-time chat within a social context.

10 Best Business Tools In Google+
10 Best Business Tools In Google+
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HootSuite today released a beta version of HootSuite Conversations, a new tool that enables users to conduct real-time chat in a social context and tie together internal and external collaboration.

HootSuite Conversations, which is available now as a free beta, enables users to work from within the social medium, rather than having to jump from one collaboration platform to another in order to share data, Ben Watson, HootSuite's VP of marketing, told The BrainYard.

"HootSuite Conversations allows real-time chat in the context of your social media activity," he said. "If something happens on the social network--a trend pops up, or somebody mentions our brand, talks about our product, or talks about someone who works for the company--I can triage that message and quickly add other team members, executives, or even external providers like agencies into that conversation. We can talk about what we want to do, come up with an action plan, and push that back out to the social networks."

[ For more advice on improving collaboration within your enterprise, see 5 Tips: Overcome Corporate Collaboration Challenges. ]

HootSuite is a social media management system that lets organizations collaborate across multiple social networks from one secure, Web-based dashboard. HootSuite Conversations provides a number of capabilities that enable users to effectively respond to what's happening on social networks. Users have the ability to:

--Amplify approved messages. Company executives and managers can develop and share messages with groups, spreading approved messaging and encouraging discussion and collaboration among group members' own network of social contacts.

--Discuss messages with appropriate team members. Rather than cutting and pasting, say, a tweet about a competitor's product into an email in order to begin a discussion, HootSuite Conversations enables users to push existing tweets and updates into a group conversations in real time, avoiding long email threads and allowing organizations to plan and act more quickly.

--Like, retweet, or use the Amplify feature within conversation streams to broadcast a message to internal and external colleagues for extended discussion.

Users can start conversations by simply clicking on an icon in the HootSuite dashboard. Anyone with an email address can be invited into a conversation, and contacts can be imported from Gmail address books.

HootSuite Conversations could help companies that are challenged with managing their social message as well as their social messengers.

However, technology alone is not enough, concedes HootSuite's Watson. "It will help people where there might be some ambiguity around the message or about how I should respond, and it will help them, in the social context, ensure that they are doing the right thing and talking to the right people," said Watson. "I think that will help companies trust that they can do more with social media than they're doing today. But this is a tool within a tool. It's just as important that somebody thinks about policy and education and those things to ensure that people will know what's expected of them and how to respond."

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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