Tech & society

Aggregating Organizational Tweets

ComTweets (@comtweets) is a (free) service that organizes a Twitter community around a common email address, like Facebook organizes networks. The stated goal is to facilitate “easy discovery and communications between coworkers.” This is not unlike Yammer‘s goal, but Yammer’s conversations are viewable only by people in the network (common email addresses). Of course, this means adding yet another social networking account to your plate.

Launched in May 2009, ComTweets lets “the world” see everyone who has elected to affiliate their Twitter account with their employer. And it is very easy to set up a new network on ComTweets: you simply sign up with your work email address. The first person to sign up gets to set up the organizational account, like so.

As the first person to sign up with a "" email address, I got to create the University of Washington network.

When you associate your Twitter account with an organization/network, ComTweets asks if this is a personal or organizational account. The question caused me to stumble, as I first thought “this” referenced the ComTweets network. Then I realized that ComTweets was asking about the Twitter account that I was associating with the email address. That’s when I knew I was to select “personal.”

Consequently ComTweets appends “employee” beneath my Twitter avatar when it displays my tweets. Note: it does not display @replies.

comtweets kegill

It’s possible that ComTweets could have two networks for UW, as we have two different sets of syntax for the same email address — and We’re probably not the only large network with an issue like this, evidenced by this June blog post explaining how to merge networks.

If your website or blog allows javascript, you can easily display tweets from the aggregated feed.

There are a few large-ish communities on ComTweets but in the main the numbers are small:

  • CNN: 20 twitters, 21,915 tweets, 5,892,228 reaches
  • Comcast: 27 twitters, 7,726 tweets, 51,929 reaches
  • Google: 76 twitters, 35,898 tweets, 1,831,262 reaches
  • IBM: 153 twitters, 68,875 tweets, 112,776 reaches
  • Microsoft: 276 twitters, 183,891 tweets, 570,308 reaches
  • Sapient Interactive: 1 twitters, 149 tweets, 126 reaches
  • Temple University: 1 twitters, 59 tweets, 248 reaches
  • Virgin Media: 4 twitters, 8,528 tweets, 1,269 reaches

What do you think? Useful or not?

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

4 replies on “Aggregating Organizational Tweets”

I’d love to fill you in on how we did the Yahoo Pipes part (actually it was one man’s work,, but it turns out we’re not using that anymore. We’ve gone with handcoding a way to give attributions to the tweets that link to the employee’s page on the corporate website, while linking to the tweet in Twitter via the date stamp.

I agree that there could easily be a lot of ‘noise’ on a ComTweets channel. I know CoTweet but was not familiar with (nope, I had forgotten about!) ConnectTweet – thanks! Remembering the hashtag is a barrier, however.

Your comment about lists is also valid: these tools were birthed before Twitter launched lists. I don’t understand why Twitter isn’t providing the RSS link for lists. I’ve used to create RSS feeds for lists where I have an interest.

Do you have a tutorial on how you did that with Yahoo Pipes? ;-)

I do see usefulness for large organizations as a way to for employees to discover each other’s accounts, if your employees actually use Twitter accounts under their work addresses.

Another of ComTweet’s uses is to serve as a voice of the company. This would work if employees tweet under work e-mail-aligned accounts and all/most of their tweets are relevant, but I think that’s a fringe case in practice, if I understand the service correctly.

I’ll write from the perspective of using a tool for company visibility. The obvious goal then is to have a visible and accessible voice of the business, and I’d add that the voice should be intentional and relevant.

We use a service called ConnectTweet (it’s like CoTweet but was available earlier and we’ve stuck with it), which allows a central admin to add select Twitter accounts to a list of approved contributors as the voice for a single company Twitter account. The individual tweeters designate specific tweets to appear in the company Twitter feed by ending tweets with a self-defined hashtag, in our case #mstrm. ConnectTweet knows to publish all those tweets from the company Twitter account and to add a self-defined attribution, in our case “via @username.” That stream becomes the hive mind of our employees but only the tweets they wish to share for that purpose. This reduces noise and increases focus. We then take that stream and process it through a Yahoo Pipe for additional formatting and republish it on a page on our company website. This increases visibility/niftiness. You can see our stream at (That said, I do often forget to use the #mstrm tag :)

The other way to get visibility for company tweeters is to use the company Twitter account to create a Twitter list of the company’s employees. This list is publicly subscribable/RSS-enabled, so it’s easy to access after the initial discovery.

Neither of these exactly duplicates ComTweets, they’re just different ways to get similar exposure for company tweeters.

Luis Antezana

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.