On October 15th, Twitter released a new feature that gives users the option of receiving direct messages (DMs) from any follower. This means that I could send a direct message to anyone that I follow who doesn’t necessarily follow me back.
If you do want to receive DMs from any of your own followers, check this box under Settings:
If you don’t, leave it be.
I decided to test this feature out of curiosity as an active Tweeter (seeing if any of my followers who I don’t follow back would actually DM me) and from a consumer’s standpoint (would businesses send me direct messaging of their services?).
It’s been two weeks since the initial release and from what I have experienced so far with this feature, I’ve made a quick guide of how you should go about using the new DM format, AKA the Do’s and Don’ts.
Do: Engage in a welcoming and informative way.
Whether you’re on your own Twitter account or running a business’s, it’s important to let people who you DM know there’s a person behind that account. Be sure to tell them who you are and why you’re messaging them–get to the point!
When I first heard that Twitter was going to release this option, spamming became my biggest concern. And before I knew it, that concern became a reality once I checked that box.
Out of the five accounts that direct messaged me, three of them sent two or three messages at a time about their services and how they could help my overall marketing strategy. After a week, I had over 15 DMs from one account. It was annoying and it really turned me off to the entire concept. If there was a chance that I would follow that account, it was way out the door now.
If you’re going to DM someone, try to keep it to one 140-character message and wait for a response.
Do: Take notice
You might be on the receiving end of direct messages from your followers and, if so, you should respond accordingly.
Are customers asking questions about your business’s products? If the response is too lengthy for a DM, at least point them in the right direction (send them a link to your customer service page, for example.)
It’s all about letting them know that you are there and that, yes, you do care.
Don’t: Unprofessional and Immature DMs
Another thought that popped into my head when I first looked into this feature was: “Hey! I can DM all of my favorite influencers and see if they respond!”
I didn’t even think about how immature this thought was until I tried it (yes it’s true) and instantly regretted it. If you do decide to DM one of your influencers, be sure it’s coherent and well-thought-out.
Twitter was smart making this an optional feature. Look for businesses to leverage it in a number of ways moving forward and if you do decide to check off that box, watch out for spam!