Some Twitter users recently spotted a new option to receive direct messages (DMs) from followers, even if they aren’t following them back:
This option is visible to some users in the “Account” section of their settings.
The option to receive DMs from any follower has apparently been available to a few verified users since late 2011, and it is unclear why it hasn’t been rolled out to all users since then. Many Twitter users panicked at the thought of receiving DMs from spammers and other people they don’t follow, but the feature is turned off by default.
While regular Twitter users have mixed feelings toward this new feature, this could offer new opportunities for brand marketers in terms of promotion and customer support.
A More Direct Customer Service Channel
This new feature can provide a lot of benefits to companies and any social media marketing agency using Twitter as a customer service channel. Brands that activate it will be able to receive private customer service requests and complaints without having to follow the customer first. This can encourage users to send DMs instead of posting public complaints, as they won’t have to wait until the brand follows them back. It can also make managing customer service messages easier for brands that receive thousands of them on Twitter each day.
Private Correspondence and Promotion
Twitter is mostly about public correspondence. Allowing other Twitter users to see how you answer questions and interact with your customers is a great way to highlight your brand’s personality. Marketers rarely use DMs for promotions or discussions, but there will be times when private interaction might be better. For example, if you want to offer exclusive discount codes or freebies to select customers, the new feature will allow you to contact them without broadcasting the action publicly.
The feature may also come in handy if you’d like to contact another professional or company about business, or if you’d like to get in touch with journalist when you have news you’d like to share. This can also work both ways – if you opt in to this new feature, you will be able to receive messages from journalists and other professionals who want to know more about your company or start developing a working relationship.
Many users and brands have been using Twitter as their preferred channel for communication, promotions, and customer service. The new DM option could offer better opportunities for brands, but it could also make spamming an even bigger problem than it currently is. Hopefully Twitter will find ways to prevent spammers from abusing this new feature before they make it available to all their users.
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