Twitter is upgrading its direct message (DM) feature in order to make it easier for users to communicate with more people privately. On Monday, this change was announced and will allow users much more flexibility. In the past, a user can only perform this task if the other Twitter user was following him or her. However, because of this new change, more opportunities will be made available through this platform. Marketers looking to reach out to a larger array of people will be able to contact more prospective customers, and politicians and charities will be able to appeal to a wider base of possible supporters.
Twitter was established in 2006 as a mini-blog service, where a person or a company could alert others as to what they were up to. The whole idea was to send a status alert, better known as a ‘tweet’, in 140 characters or less of something usually noteworthy, whether it was to inform customers of a new product, a change in a current service, newsworthy topics, or a blog update. To keep it as brief as possible, a user can use a link shortener to save space for more characters. The people who would receive these tweets are followers, that is other Twitter users who choose to follow that person or company’s tweets.
While any user on Twitter could reach out to another user through a tweet, which is viewed by their respective followers, if he or she desired more privacy, a DM could be sent to one is following that user back. The sender had the option whether he or she could follow the person receiving the DM. For the sender of the message, this in the past seemed to be a benefit if he or she did not want to have too many undesirable Tweets on his or her screen. At the same time, however, it created a certain sense of frustration to the follower as he or she could not respond to the PMs without being followed back.
Due to these apparent limitations, Twitter had seen its user base shrinking in favor of other messaging apps like WhatsApp, which was acquired last year by Facebook and has 800 million users as compared to Twitter’s population of 288 million. Investors as a result, began pressuring Twitter to make changes to increase its customer base and better compete with the other social media companies. With this new upgrade to its direct message feature, Twitter users will find they have more freedom of choice, by going into their settings and placing a check mark in a box, which allows them to receive DMs from everyone. This will allow some users more privacy as they do not wish to have their inbox inundated, while others, like companies looking for interns and new hires will be able to make themselves more accessible.
In addition, this feature will open up avenues of opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to share ideas or seek out venture capital. Companies looking to improve their customer service will also greatly benefit from this change, for example, a company AT&T in the past was only able to receive complaints from customers who it followed. Now customers will be able to contact them privately as opposed to tweeting out the complaint to the public to see. Twitter followed up with this change in its blog, where it hoped that their upgrade to the direct message feature will help people connect more easily.
By Bill Ades