Like many social networks Twitter regularly experiments with new features, some of which go on to become permanent fixtures while others are phased out. It appears that the company’s most recent Direct Message experiment is part of the latter group.
Last month, Twitter quietly rolled out a feature that gives members the option to receive private messages from any of their followers. Despite the obvious advantages for businesses using the platform for customer service, the feature has now been removed.
Previously, a checkbox to opt in to the feature was found under account settings, but it’s no longer there. As a result, Twitter members can only send Direct Messages to someone who is following them. While this is likely preferred by individuals, some businesses might not be happy as the opt-in feature made it easier to connect with customers.
Twitter, as expected, has been pretty tight-lipped about the whole thing, stating that the company is constantly releasing experiments and that this feature was just one of them. There’s no word whether we’ll see it again in another iteration or if Twitter has something bigger plans for Direct Messages.
In the mean time, companies using the social network for customer service efforts might consider creating a separate Twitter account. Research has found that more than 32 percent of top brands now have dedicated customer service handles on Twitter. Not only does this approach prevent dilution of brand messaging, but it also gives customers an easy way to get answers.