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Twitter Updates its Direct Messages System


Twitter has recently introduced a new feature that gives the user the option to send a direct message (DM) to users who don’t follow them. This is a change from the previous direct messaging system which only let users send direct messages to people who mutually followed each other. Although it may lead to more spam messages received for some people, it also could be beneficial to some brands and companies who use Twitter for customer service issues or as a marketing tool.


The new direct message feature has been rolling out to certain users over the last few weeks, testing a setting that allows users to send and receive direct messages from others without needing to mutually follow one another. This latest update has already been featuring on the site for specific users for a couple of months – for instance, the Twitter account Magic Recs, which sent follower recommendations in direct messages to users who decided to follow their Magic Recs account.

This new direct message feature has led to discussions of whether Twitter will launch a standalone direct-message application separate from the Twitter app, showing more similarity to WhatsApp messenger or Facebook messenger app. Twitter has also been learning from the success of Snapchat, which has managed to engage many users through their instant picture messaging platform. Twitter’s latest app update, specifically for Android Tablet users, appears to have borrowed heavily from Snapchat by providing users the ability to draw on images that they tweet, or illustrate their own whole image.


Currently, the direct messages are used a lot for spam messages, however, they do also have more valuable uses for brands and companies. Direct messages still work in a similar way to tweets, only allowing a maximum of 140 characters for each one sent, but they have the added benefit of being private. This means the new change to the DM system will be very beneficial for brands that use Twitter as a customer service channel.

If these brands allow their accounts to accept DMs from anyone (and not just those that they also follow) they will then be able to receive private customer service messages from customers, even if they aren’t already following them. This will allow customers with problems, that they wish for customer service to solve, to send their queries over a private channel instead of publicly broadcasting it across the net. This can benefit some companies because it moves complaints out of the public eye, as they do not necessarily want all their customers to see that someone has disapproved of their service.

However, at times having customer service in the public eye can be beneficial because it means that a customer service channel does not have to respond to every individual query as others might be able to search through the hashtags for a similar problem finding the answer without sending in a query themselves. This is one of the benefits of Twitter – that it is in the public eye and conversations are shared in a public manner making them searchable. If these conversations are moved into a private arena, then it takes away some of the value of the site.

The move is likely to have been introduced as a method of allowing brands and businesses to receive private messages from their followers, as opposed to allowing companies or individuals to spam Twitter users. The move comes following Twitter’s recent partnership with the TV provider Comcast, in an attempt to promote its service and create a new form of social TV. This new DM feature allows Twitter users who use features like this to communicate with brands and companies without being followed by the brand itself.

However, this new feature will only work if a user has opted in to allow messages to be sent to them by any user, which might be important for your brand. Yet the average Twitter user will not want an influx of spam messages into their individual direct message inboxes, so if you do not want to be sent unwanted inbox messages make sure you check your Twitter settings and be sure that “Receive direct messages from any follower” is unchecked. 

What do you think?

Do you think it is beneficial to be able to send Direct Messages to any user on Twitter?


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Twitter Updates its Direct Messages System Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 Rating: 5
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