MediaRoost isn’t the only recent tech startup to capitalize on the growth of Twitter, but the Metuchen-based software developer stands out in one key way — its TweetRoost platform is optimized for business.
Co-founder Mark Krieger said TweetRoost is different from other social media “dashboard” services that allow users to simultaneously monitor social media accounts across Twitter, Facebook or other sites. But Krieger said that’s not so helpful for business.
“It might even be harmful,” he said, “because it’s so much in front of your face, and it’s so customizable with multiple streams, that you might find yourself missing stuff.”
TweetRoost isn’t so much about monitoring social media as it is about managing it. While the software is available to anyone, its forte is helping businesses and organizations track two-way communication.
Krieger and his longtime business partner, Fred Pack, spent two decades building UniPress Software, a maker of Web-based service desk software. They sold UniPress to Numara Software in 2006, and departed a few years later in search of their next venture.
What they found was an expanding social media landscape, and the advent of new kinds of interaction between customers and businesses. Last year, Krieger and Pack began developing a service aimed at making those communications more efficient, and in May, they formally launched MediaRoost.
Krieger said many companies began using services like Twitter to send out marketing messages or links to positive news stories, but by setting up those accounts, they also opened themselves up to incoming communication.
“Customers would respond and talk to the Twitter address of the organization,” he said. “You say something like, ‘When are you going to do this?’ and, ‘I need help with that.’”
Krieger said it can be difficult for companies to keep track of incoming messages, called tweets on the social networking site. Tweets specifically directed at a company or user are saved, but mere mentions are only flagged for a Twitter user if the mention is formatted a certain way. For instance, Twitter would notify Krieger if a tweet includes “@MediaRoost,” but it wouldn’t notify him if it merely mentioned “MediaRoost.”
A company can have its social media team search Twitter for mentions or other relevant tweets, but that’s only helpful if the volume of tweets is manageable, and if the tweets come at a time when someone’s watching.
TweetRoost solves the problem by automating the monitoring process and saving relevant tweets. A company administrator can then log on and review the tweets or track the company’s responses.
The software allows users to schedule outgoing tweets, and also has an option allowing managers to approve tweets. Krieger said the latter has been the service’s strongest selling point thus far.
“(Clients) say I have five people doing tweets, and some of them are more junior than others, and I just don’t want them tweeting whenever they want and saying whatever they want,” Krieger said.
TweetRoost offers basic accounts for free and its “pro” service for $15 per month. That’s pocket change compared to the thousands of dollars Krieger’s UniPress clients spent on software and maintenance, but Krieger said he’s quickly learned that the Web is a different world.
“It’s (taking) a lot longer than I thought, and it’s tougher than I thought,” he said. “People really don’t like to pay.”
Krieger said the company has been putting much of its efforts into marketing, in order to stand out in a crowded landscape. One challenge, he said, is that many managers have never used Twitter, and so don’t understand its — or TweetRoost’s — value.
To help serve those customers, TweetRoost recently rolled out an “e-mail digest” service, which can be programmed to send managers a daily digest of outgoing and incoming tweets.
Krieger said sales haven’t picked up as quickly as he’d hoped, but said he and the company are in a financial position to take their time.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” he said. “And it may be that it’s probably longer than I thought when we started.”
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On Twitter: @JaredKaltwasser