Twitter’s New DM Feature – Good or Bad?

Did you even know that Twitter had a direct messaging feature?

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It’s okay if you didn’t. It’s a little more low-key than Facebook’s messaging/chat system. Some people might not even realize that in addition to all the Tweeting going on, you can also send DMs to friends on Twitter.

And now, Twitter’s starting to rethink its long-time restriction that requires users to follow each other before being able to send each other direct messages.

Now, they’re bringing in this new option where you can choose to receive direct messages from anyone who follows you, even if you don’t follow them back.

Now, before you start freaking out about the potential for message spam you might start receiving from anybody and everybody on Twitter – chill.

It’s an opt-in feature, which means you can choose not to opt-in, and consequently, to receive messages only from people you follow and who you’re following.

And not everybody has this feature just yet.

To find out if you have it, you can go to your Twitter settings and look under the Account section. If you have the option, you’ll see:

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So if you want to opt-in, check that box. If not, leave it unchecked and your DM will stay the same as it always was… at least, until they roll out the changes for all Twitter users.

The new DM feature would appear to be a good thing for brands and spammers, but bad for consumers.

As a business owner, you’ll probably be on the fence about this.

On one hand, the new feature will allow you to connect with your customers and potential customers with much less fuss. 

On the other hand, as an everyday Twitter user, you’d probably prefer if your inbox wasn’t flooded with spam. 

Anyway, looks like Twitter is still testing things out (though some users say they’ve had the option since 2011).

For now, I do know these two things about the new DM feature:

1. It’s good news for customer service.

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The new change will definitely benefit brands that were using Twitter as a customer service tool.

Now they won’t have to follow thousands of people just to deal with customer service issues.

Being able to receive private messages from customers will also allow customers to vent their frustrations directly to the customer service people, instead of broadcasting their complaints all over your brand’s Twitter feed.

Just like on Facebook, the new feature will allow brands to move a complaint or conversation to a more private medium as quickly as possible.

I can imagine some customers would benefit as well, because they might want to have their issues resolved without needing to follow and be followed by Brand A, B or C.

2. You’re going to see more spam messages.  

Twitter was smart to make this an opt-in feature. Not everybody will want to receive DMs from just anyone and everyone.

But for users and brands who do choose to use this feature, the potential for spam is too damn high.

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Spammers will find it easier than ever to reach the DM inboxes of brands and company accounts.

This means users will have to take some extra precautionary measures before clicking on DM links, which might be a bit of a pain.

The bottom line?

So far, while it’s easy to see that the new DM feature will definitely be a good thing for customer service, the potential for marketers is still unclear.

Your business may not even use direct messages. In fact, most people who are trying to get traffic from Twitter will rely more on public Tweets, complete with like 50 or so hashtags to get it trending and promote discussion.

People use Twitter because it’s public, and they have no reason to hide any of their conversations.

But I guess there could always be situations where a brand might want to communicate privately with their followers. For example, sending out an exclusive coupon code to a contest winner or something.

Also, in general, it might be a good idea to give customers a way to contact your company or brand if they want to, without needing to follow each other.

I guess only time will tell whether or not the new change is a good thing or a bad thing.

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