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cotweet-logoPeople make a lot of comments, questions and complaints on microblogging service Twitter about companies — if you’re well-known, I imagine it becomes hard to manage pretty quickly. That’s where a startup called CoTweet comes in, helping companies manage their customer relations on Twitter. The San Francisco company just opened the beta test of its service publicly, and also announced $1.1 million in a first round of funding.

Of course, it’s possible for a company to do customer service on Twitter without CoTweet’s help. But if you want something a little more sophisticated than just a corporate Twitter account, CoTweet allows multiple users to manage multiple accounts, monitor keywords and trends, get email notifications timed to when you are “on duty,” create conversation threads, and more. There are already some impressive users, including WholeFoods, Starbucks, Microsoft, and the city of San Francisco.

Salesforce.com is also trying to plug companies into customer discussions on Twitter and elsewhere online through its Service Cloud. In fact, chief executive Marc Benioff has offered Twitter as an example of where the business software and infrasctructure market is going. But Salesforce isn’t focused on Twitter the way CoTweet is. This might limit the startup, but might also offer it an advantage in reaching companies that are particularly interested in Twitter.

The public beta is free for now, though CoTweet says it will start charging eventually. Investors include Baseline Ventures, Founders Fund, First Round Capital, SV Angel, Maples Investments, and Freestyle Capital.

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