Twitter Tip TuesdayTwitter Tip Tuesday is a weekly blog series from Sprout Social Insights.

Every Tuesday we’ll focus on just one Twitter Tip and show you how to integrate it into your social media strategy.

In case you missed them, here are the first four tips in our series “Things to Do After Creating Your Twitter Account”:

Now that we have that out of the way, here is the fifth thing to do after you create your Twitter account.

Check your Direct Messages

Twitter Tip Tuesday - Check your Direct Messages
Direct Messages, DMs, or “Messages” as they are now referred to on Twitter, are private tweets that are sent from one individual to another. Usually, Messages contain important, sensitive, or confidential information and are not meant for public consumption. In an attempt to prevent direct message spam, Twitter allows you to receive Messages only from people you are following. Conversely, you can only send Messages to people who are already following you.

Of course, some unscrupulous people still choose to send overt spam messages via DM. Others may inadvertently appear to be spammers if they choose to automatically send direct messages after someone follows them (“Hi friend! Thanks for following. Check out my new website at www…”). Nevertheless, it’s important to regularly check your Messages to make sure you’re not missing important updates from your customers.

Used properly, Messages can be an effective way to conduct customer service on Twitter. Messages allow you to address problems privately and they can be an effective first step in moving a customer service compliant offline. Messages can also be used strategically to build trust with a customer. Under the right circumstances, if someone receives a DM from you, it sends a positive signal that you are listening to that customer and that he or she has your full attention.

Sometimes, a Message from a customer may include information that would be helpful or useful to your followers at large. For example, a customer may feel like he or she needs to send you a private tweet to complain about a bad experience with your business. You may feel that this complaint would be valid for all your followers to see, so that you can acknowledge and address the issue in public. In this scenario, ask the person who sent you the Message if its okay to address the tweet publicly. This additional sign of respect for your customers can increase your reputation as a trustworthy business.

Do you use Twitter Direct Messages in your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Image Credit: B Tal]