The Twitter Update That Could Easily Be Abused

Twitter releases updates often, and they are generally positive. One of the most recent updates to Twitter Direct Message can be incredibly helpful to customer service efforts (unless you're a sleazy salesman). Let's talk about the rule change and some things you need to know.

Direct messaging prior to April 2015

Say you wanted to congratulate your local taco joint on the BEST customer experience ever. You could post an update and tag them for the world to see...good option!

On the contrary, say your experience was not tops, and you wanted to complain...yikes! Instead of posting for the world to see and tarnishing their rep, you'd rather start a conversation with them on Twitter through Direct Message and let them know what happened. The problem is, if the local taco joint didn't follow you, you could not send them a Direct Message.

Before April of this year, you had to follow someone to receive a Direct Message from them. Not anymore.

Now what? And is it a good thing?

Now Twitter Direct Messages (DMs) can be sent to anyone, follower or not, if you have changed a setting in your profile. See Twitter instructions here.

The new feature will also allow you to reply to anyone who sends you a message. If you're a business, be sure to enable this feature, because it allows for more customer engagement. 

You'll see a new Direct Message button on your profile if you have an iPhone or Android. It will also appear on profiles of people you can Direct Message. If you don't see it, it means they haven't changed their settings.

The question is...is this good or bad?

As we mentioned above, if you're a business with high customer service standards, it's a no-brainer to turn the feature on and be open to its possibilities. However, problems can arise when brands begin invading inboxes with unwanted messages.

Don't give your followers the most popular reason to unfollow you. As of 2014, sending automatic DMs was the #1 reason people unfollowed someone. You'll look like a spammer, and no one likes a spammer. It will also come across as terribly invasive, like someone cold-calling your home phone. Yuck. Plus, Twitter may also get wind of your Direct Message spam and flag you. They say:

"If you are sending duplicate Direct Messages to multiple accounts (including sending the same link to multiple accounts), this may be flagged as spam activity and can result in you not being able to send a Direct Message for a short time. You may need to wait at least 30 minutes without any attempt at sending a Direct Message before you’ll be able to do so again."

How can you use the change in a positive way?

Be authentic. Use this new feature to genuinely engage with your audience and gain trust among your fans (and future fans). Here are a couple of scenarios where the new feature shines:

  • If you happen to get a complaint on your page via an update that has tagged your page, you can respond to them on the actual post and send them a personal Direct Message with further questions or instructions. 
  • You can post something like, "Direct Message us with your email address to get the latest, greatest how-to guide!" This invites the user to give you their email address without giving it to the whole world. 

What if someone keeps sending you unwanted messages? No worries. There's a way for you to block a user from sending you messages without blocking everyone.

As always, use social media for good and not to give in to the temptation of spam. 

Do you need help initiating a Twitter strategy? Let us know.