LongReply is a project we’ve been working on under the MailChimp Labs umbrella for a while now. In a nutshell, it’s designed to give you as much space as you need (because sometimes you need more than 140 characters) to respond via Twitter.
Over the past couple years I’ve been heading up MailChimp’s social customer service efforts, mostly via Twitter and Facebook. As I’ve brought more team members into the fold we’ve had to coordinate things "the hard way," and we’re always experimenting to come up with the best processes and tools for the job. That’s given me a lot of insight into things like multi-account and multi-user settings in LongReply, and it’s also my first go at helping develop software from the ground up. The real hero though is one of our engineers, Eric. He’s been spearheading LongReply and it’s his baby. So all the fun little messages you’ll see in the app? That’s all Eric. Our UX team also has some new members who are being recruited to the LongReply project, and MailChimp DesignLab’s Creative Director Ron whipped up the new logo in a few hours one Friday afternoon.
The easiest way to create a LongReply is to use one of our browser extensions. These extensions add a special long reply link when you hover over the tweets on your Twitter homepage. Currently, we only have extensions available for Firefox & Chrome *but* you can also enter the tweet URL or tweet ID manually.
Once you’ve installed the LongReply extension for either Firefox or Chrome, when you browse around Twitter.com on the web you’ll see a little LongReply link when you hover over a tweet.
Clicking that link takes you to LongReply’s WYSIWYG editor where you can compose your reply, complete with links, inline images and emoticons.
At this point you have a couple options. You can click "Re-build from reply" to see how your tweet will appear on Twitter, you can save your LongReply as a draft if you need to get more information or come back to it later, or you can simply reply. You’ll also have the option to choose which Twitter account you want to send from, which is really handy if you’ve connected multiple usernames.
Last Minute Tweaks
Days ago, the nerds added a feature that lets you tell LongReply when it’s allowed to send you email alerts (the alerts Ben talked about the other day). We figured some of you might want these messages turned off while you’re at work (and looking at Hootsuite/Tweetdeck/Seesmic anyway), and others might only want LongReply to alert you when you’re not at work. Plus, you can schedule alerts differently for each search term (for me, references to the keyword "mailchimp" might be more pressing than, say, the mention of my personal twitter account).
Keep in mind that we’re still working to tweak some of the settings (for example, I can’t set alerts to send from 10PM-6AM just yet) and styling here.
Here’s a peek at LongReply’s search interface.
It’s simple and straightforward. Clicking on the little gear icon brings up the alert settings dialog for each search so you can tweak which alerts you want to receive via email and when. The individual search modules can also be collapsed/expanded (click the little triangle icon), or dragged/dropped if you want to rearrange ’em. You’ll also notice that within each module, you can display tweets according to sentiment– positive, neutral, negative or ‘show all’.
The account tab shows all the pertinent account settings. You can update your email address (it’ll be used for login as well as to send you alerts if you’ve set those up), change your password, set your default account (great for users who want to connect more than one Twitter account with LongReply), connect/disconnect Twitter Accounts, and set up Multi-User Accounts.
Phewf! If you’re still reading you must really be interested in trying out LongReply. Cool! It’s nice to know there are people out there who are actually interested in this stuff.
The important thing to keep in mind is that LongReply is still in beta. (Eric made me say that.) You’ll need to sign up for an invite, and we’ll be letting users have access in smallish batches so we can keep an eye on the status of everything.