Since Twitter swept the world by storm in late 2008, it has been inevitable that the company would begin rolling out additional features that it can ultimately monetize. Unrelated businesses have created thousands of online apps utilizing Twitter's API, but until now the company itself has been largely dormant. This all changed in a big way in mid-May, when the company announced the beta of its new twitter business account.
Twitter was originally designed primarily for individuals to use, to keep friends and acquaintances up to speed on what they were doing, and to communicate quickly. The underlying premise had a great deal more potential, however, and businesses have already begun leveraging Twitter powerfully to build their brand and spread their messages. Twitter Business Center looks to expand this potential by adding additional Twitter features specifically catered to businesses, however. Although Twitter Business Center doesn't add a great deal of functionality over the basic Twitter, what it does offer is very powerful.
One of the first things a business account gets is the ability to be Verified by Twitter. In the past the Verified status has been available only to individuals, while businesses had to remain unverified. Although not a huge change, it represents a shift in the way Twitter is viewing businesses as a part of their network. This will also increase the amount of trust customers can have in the businesses they meet on Twitter, so that they are certain when they are following Widgets, Inc., they are actually following Widgets, Inc., and not a competitor out to undermine their online reputation.
Twitter Business Center accounts will also have a Contributor option. This is huge for businesses, which currently are forced to share a single login among sometimes dozens of employees. The Contributor tab allows Twitter business users to add individuals who can all tweet in the name of the business, while still tracking who is tweeting what, allowing larger businesses to much more closely monitor their employees and how they're using Twitter.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Twitter Business Center users have the ability to accept Direct Messages directly from any Twitter user - whether or not they are following that user. One of the biggest annoyances for a business using Twitter is that in order to take a Direct Message from a user they currently have to follow that user - cluttering the incoming feed immensely, and shifting the follower/following ratio quite a bit.
With more and more companies offering technical support via twitter business accountDirect Messages, this clunky system requiring reciprocal following has been a growing problem. Using Twitter Business Center businesses will no longer have that problem, and will be free to accept and respond to Direct Messages without adding to their followers.
Although still in beta, Twitter Business Center will likely roll out by July to a larger audience of businesses. A number of other ideas have been proposed, as well, and once Twitter Business Center is fully rolled out it is likely Twitter will continue to add and refine features to make the service even more useful to their business audience. Once Twitter Business Center takes off, it might be a good idea to hire a online reputation management professional to manage your Twitter Business presence.