Twitter direct messages: you either love them or you hate them. The direct message can be a great tool to help you connect with your followers, or it can be an annoying, spam-filled irritant. So, since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, here are a few tips to use direct messages to build the love.
If you are unfamiliar with how a direct message works, it’s a lot like a text message or an instant message. A direct message is also referred to as a DM, and is a private message sent via Twitter to one of your followers. It’s different than a mention or @reply because the message is private and you can only send a direct message to one of your followers. You can learn how to send a DM through the Twitter Help Center.
Here are a few bad and good ways to use direct messages.
First, the bad.
- Using direct messages to pitch your followers. It’s perfectly fine to encourage your new follower to check out your company blog or website, but please don’t try to sell them your service. It gives them the impression that you are only looking for business and not trying to create relationships or connections.
- Tweeting information you received in a direct message. Direct messages are meant to be private, so make sure you don’t repeat the information in a tweet. If they wanted the message to go public, they would have simply mentioned you in their tweet.
- Sending automatically generated direct messages. Twitter is about authenticity and creating relationships, and nothing says more “impersonal” than an auto generated direct message. Take the time to send your new follower a hand-crafted message instead. Of course, this can be difficult if you have hundreds of followers, but if you are only receiving a dozen new followers per week, take the time to send a direct message to each of them.
Now for the good.
- Sharing private information. Direct messages are an easy way to send private information over Twitter. I have one follower who is busy and seems to respond best over Twitter. Just be sure you’re actually sending it as a direct message and not a mention.
- Using it to welcome new followers. Direct messages are a great, private way to send a welcome note to your new follower. It shows that you are paying attention to your account, and that you care enough to send them a personal message.
- Being clever and personable. There’s no reason why you can’t be funny in your message, as long as you are appropriate. The best direct message I ever received was from a healthcare marketing firm. Instead of plugging their company, their DM read “Hi! We’ll let our developers know they have a new follower – an ego boost to keep them enhancing our surprisingly simple marketing solution.” It made me laugh and I have remembered it ever since.
- Including links to an interesting article. Including a link to a social media article you found interesting is a great way to welcome your new follower. It shows that you care about sharing information, whether or not it’s created by you.
These lists are not exhaustive, but I hope they will give you some ideas for how to use direct messages. Just remember the number one rule of Twitter: be authentic. If you project yourself to your new followers as clever, friendly and knowledgeable, you will have you used your direct message to build the love.