Last month, Twitter lifted its 140-character restriction on direct messages, which made major waves among avid Twitter users. You might have missed the announcement simply because you were so busy running your business (or enjoying a much-deserved vacation!), but this is also great news if you already use – or want to use – Twitter to build relationships.
However, this does not mean you can use Twitter direct message as a marketing free-for-all. In fact, you need to use it even more carefully than you use Twitter so you don’t get marked as a spammer.
Here’s a handy list of do’s and don’ts you can follow when you use Twitter direct message (DM):
Do be helpful
No matter what, always use direct message to be helpful. In fact, treat your DMs like email, except that you don’t have the person’s email address. Make your DMs short, helpful, and polite.
Don’t DM people unless they actually use Twitter
This might seem obvious, but using DM to message people is a waste of time unless they are already active on Twitter – and actively use it for business. Before you DM someone, check out their feed. What do they tweet? How often do they tweet?
Don’t send marketing messages
This is a HUGE no-no; you’d basically be spamming them. On Twitter, people cannot opt-in to get your marketing messages, so to suddenly throw promotions, event information, white papers, or other offers at them is really bad form.
Do use it for customer service
DM is a great tool for customer service. When you see complaints on Twitter, reply immediately and let them know you’ll take it to DM so you can resolve their issue quickly and privately. Likewise, invite clients to DM you with any problems.
Don’t DM people you don’t know
If you are thinking about DMing a potential client or business partner, first ask yourself a few questions:
- Do we already follow each other?
- Have we engaged in conversations on Twitter?
- Do I “like,” RT, or respond to their messages?
- If I met them in person, would they know who I am?
Do pitch journalists and bloggers – IF you already have a relationship
Journalists and bloggers are probably the most active groups of people on Twitter, so using Twitter to get on their radar is a great idea. I would strongly caution against pitching them via DM unless you already have a solid, established relationship. Otherwise, you’ll be viewed as annoying – or worse.
How do you use direct message? Have any other questions about it?
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