Since its launch, Twitter has provided customers and brands with a unique opportunity to interact with one another. It did impose some limitations on private communications, though. Both parties had to follow each other in order to send and respond to direct messages, or DMs. On top of that, there was a 140-character limit on DMs, which made it virtually impossible for brands and customers to communicate effectively. They had to send out countless messages in order to get their points across to one another. This was incredibly frustrating, and a waste of time.
Now, though, that has changed. Twitter has lifted the character limit and people can opt in to send and receive messages from others, regardless of whether they are following the person or brand or not. While some brands are hitting the ground running, it is best to proceed with caution. Incorporate a strategy so you use this new feature to your advantage instead of annoying your customers.
Make sure it’s on
A lot of brands think they are open for business on the direct messaging front, but they don’t have the feature enabled. If you fail to enable this feature, people will look at your brand in a negative light. They will think that you don’t want to interact with the public, which will hurt your sales.
To enable this feature, go to “Settings” and click on “Security and Privacy.”
Enable the feature and save your changes.
Once you do this, anyone can send you DMs. Here are some strategies so you keep your customers happy with this feature.
Use DMs for customer service
If you want to get the most out of this new feature, open your inbox up for your customer service team. People don’t want to call into 1-800 numbers anymore. They don’t like waiting around and they don’t want to talk to people when they can type out their problems.
At the same time, they don’t want to send an email and then wait for days to get a response. They also don’t like the automated responses that are part of so many email programs. You can fix this issue by opening up your DMs to your customer service team. Then, customers can send direct messages about issues that are too sensitive for the public.
Just make sure you respond quickly. If you do not offer quick responses, you will lose the magic of Twitter. At that point, you might as well just set up a 1-800 number and handle your customers in an old school way. Speed is everything on Twitter.
Don’t automate the process
A lot of marketers like the idea of sending out automated direct messages, but that is a huge mistake. A tech columnist recently surveyed his own Twitter followers to find out what they thought of automated direct messages, and the response was clear: People think automated DMs are spam.
I sent 481 folks auto DMs thanking them for following me. If that's you, did you like it? To everyone: opinion of auto DMs? Smart? Spam? …?
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) September 3, 2012
They also find it to be impersonal and think people have an agenda when they send these messages out.
@digiphile I consider it spam. Typically I unfollow anyone sending me a thank you DM. It is not personal & makes me think u have an agenda.
— Ryan Williams (@ryanjwill) September 3, 2012
@digiphile they're generally considered unwelcome (see @AugieRay post/survey http://t.co/PGpy4Ign ) but IMHO they can be done properly
— Eric Andersen (@eric_andersen) September 3, 2012
Only use the DM feature if you have something to say to a specific person. Do not send out automated messages. They will fall on deaf ears and will likely cause people to unfollow you. If you only send out messages to individuals, people will appreciate the time you took to send the message. This will improve the way they look at your brand.
Personalize the message
Personalization is the opposite of automation. You need to personalize your messages so people know they are not automated. Use the recipient’s name so he knows you are sending the message out to him instead of to a group. This will help you get a positive response from your customer base.
Have some discipline
It might be hard to resist sending DMs with your latest deals or using the feature to push a new product, but you need to avoid doing that. If you use direct messaging as a marketing feature, you will turn people off of your brand. It’ll be most effective if you only use it for personal, one-on-one communications. Continue to use your wall for marketing. It is necessary that you treat your feed and your inbox as two separate entities. Failure to do so can cause irreversible damage to your brand.
This new feature is exciting for marketers. If you use it correctly, you can improve your relationship with your customers. Incorporate these practices so you don’t experience any missteps when you are getting used to the feature. You will be a direct messaging guru before you know it, which will help you make more sales and keep your customers happy.