Most, if not all, social media platforms are a one-to-many model, meaning businesses, brands and individuals connect with their entire audience at once. But when it comes to building more personal relationships with your followers, this one-to-many approach might not be enough.

Establishing trust and creating deeper connection sometimes requires forming a more personalized relationship. This can help your followers feel seen and noticed on a one-to-one level.

As one of the largest one-to-many social media platforms, Twitter moves very quickly and it’s pretty easy to get lost in the conversation. That’s where Twitter Direct Messages (DMs) come in.

What is a Twitter Direct Message?

When you log in to Twitter, your first intention is usually just to start scrolling. But behind the scenes, there are conversations taking place hidden from the public eye.

Twitter DMs are used to start one-on-one conversations with anyone who follows you on Twitter. Also, DMs can be sent to people who don’t follow you only if they have opted in to receive DMs from anyone on the platform or if you’ve previously Direct Messaged that person.

Twitter DMs used to be limited to 140 characters, just like public Tweets (which are now 280 characters). But Twitter expanded the character limit of Direct Messages to 10,000 in August 2015. Now, users can also send pictures, videos, GIFs and emojis via DM.

How to send a Twitter DM

When it comes to useability, it’s easy to learn how to DM in Twitter’s interface. To send a DM when using the web app, locate the envelope icon on the right side of your Twitter profile.

Twitter Direct Messages on Desktop

Then click the “New Message” button and select the profile you want to direct message.

Send a new Twitter Direct Message

 

Or, from mobile, select the envelop “Messages” button at the bottom of the screen. Likewise, you can just navigate to the Twitter Profile you wish to message and click the same envelope button.

Sprout Coffee Twitter Profile

Sending and monitoring DMs on Twitter is even more streamlined when you’re using a social media management platform like Sprout Social. With Sprout, all of your social interactions—Direct Messages included—go directly into your Smart Inbox. From there, you can choose exactly how you want to respond or assign the message to someone else in your organization.

Sprout Social Smart Inbox Twitter only view

Now let’s dive deeper into the times when sending a private Twitter DM can work to your advantage as a marketer. We’ll also give you some tips and tricks as to how you can use Sprout Social to integrate Twitter DMs into your social media marketing strategy.

When and Why to send a DM on Twitter

There are certain instances when it makes sense for brands and businesses to send a DM on Twitter. Sending DMs is beneficial for building closer personal connections with followers. We’ll expand on this more below, but sometimes responding publicly to a Tweet might not be appropriate depending on the context or content of the Tweet. Or, sometimes, you might just want to reach out and welcome a new follower or follow-up on a customer service issue. As a brand, you should be prepared with how to handle certain situations that will both make your customers happy and boost your brand’s perception.

Taking a Twitter conversation from public to private

If you’re running a Twitter account for a business, make sure that your Twitter Direct Message settings allow anyone to message you, even if you are not mutual followers. Do this by navigating to “Settings and privacy.” Under the “Privacy and safety” tab, scroll down to the Direct Messages area and select the box that allows you to receive Direct Messages from anyone. This can ultimately help you in the long run, when customers want to go straight to the source rather than Tweeting out publicly.

Receive Direct Messages from anyone on Twitter

Twitter DMs for customer support

The Sprout Social Index found that the top reasons for consumers to reach out to brands on social media are to share their great experience (59%), have a product or service question (47%) or if they have a bad experience (40%). So it’s important that your brand or business knows how to handle customer service requests on all social media platforms.

Often, a Twitter user might tag or mention your account with an issue or message you directly. When they mention your brand in a public tweet, we recommend acknowledging that tweet publicly with a quick message asking the user to send you a DM. Along with prompting a follow-up message from that customer, this makes it clear to other followers that you’re addressing this issue privately and not ignoring the Tweet. Once in the DM, you can ask them for more information that will help resolve their issue.

In some cases, a follower might be asking a question that you think could be beneficial to your entire timeline, and responding to that Tweet publicly can also potentially answer that question for other followers.

However, if the Tweet is about something specific to that follower or contains sensitive information, that’s when you want to move the conversation into the DMs. Ask the user to send you a DM with more information or DM them yourself. And because Twitter DMs aren’t restricted by a character count, it makes it easier to communicate and troubleshoot the issue.

If you use a social media management tool like Sprout Social, it’s even easier to switch to Direct Messages. Once you have configured your settings on Twitter to allow anyone to DM your business, you will see an option in Sprout to “Switch to DM” in your Twitter reply window.

Switching to Twitter DMs is easy through the Sprout Dashboard

Also by using Sprout, you can make it even easier for the user to send you a DM. When you respond to a Tweet from within the Sprout Dashboard, you can add a button to the Tweet that allows the user to directly DM, as shown in one of the examples above. When they click the button, it will redirect them to a Direct Message page and auto-populate your profile to the recipient bar.

Adding a button for Twitter users to send you a direct message is easy in the Sprout Social dashboard

After the customer service interaction is over, you can send a follow-up DM to gather feedback on the customer’s experience.

Sprout’s Customer Feedback Tool leverages Twitter DMs as a way to gather feedback from customers who received support on Twitter. It provides the customer with a feedback survey where they can privately share feedback about their customer service experience on the platform.

Once you begin monitoring your Twitter mentions, you can start to anticipate the types of questions and comments that come in most frequently. Save time on the response process by creating Suggested Replies in Sprout for incoming messages that are just one click away.

How to choose Suggested Replies for a DM

Enhance Twitter DM conversations with chatbots

Twitter users who are coming to your brand with a customer service question or concern may not always know what to expect when they open up a DM conversation. You can make the experience more inviting by using chatbots to help steer conversations in a friendly way.

Welcome messages greet new followers via Direct Message and are a great way to make a stellar first impression and raise brand awareness. Using Sprout’s Bot Builder, you can automate this process by setting up a Twitter Bot that automatically sends a welcome message to customers as soon as they open a Direct Message chat. Assign the chatbot specific rules and permissions and it will send pre-determined messages to followers who meet the criteria.

Create an automated Welcome Message on Twitter

Beyond welcoming them with a simple “hello” try to add value within that initial message. This message can shape your future relationship, so make it something memorable. A few ways to make this message more engaging are to ask them a question, include a link to a recent blog post or video or send them a special offer.

Sprout Coffee Co. uses a chatbot in their Twitter DMs to welcome any new messages started by followers

When new followers feel like they’re not just another face in the crowd, they’re more likely to engage with your brand and begin the relationship with a positive interaction.

Lead generation with Twitter DMs

If someone follows you on Twitter, it’s reasonable to assume that they are interested in your brand. However, just because they’re a follower, doesn’t mean that they’re ready to buy. Twitter DMs can work as a way to warm up leads, which you can monitor and reference back in your CRM Tool.

Sprout’s CRM tools let your sales and marketing teams keep track of all potential leads that come through social media, including Twitter. Seeing all of your follower activity in one place makes it easier to identify and nurture warm leads.

Use Sprout's Social CRM tool to track leads on Twitter

Some brands warm up potential Twitter leads by incentivizing their followers to subscribe to their email list to receive exclusive content or download a lead magnet. Twitter is also a great place to promote lead generating activities such as webinars or contests.

Twitter Direct Messages can be a unique way to reach out to warm leads individually. For example, you might see people asking about products in your industry on Twitter. When you do, reach out to the person directly via DM. Offering them a solution will make your brand stand out among the other answers they receive on their timeline.

One way to catch conversations that indirectly relate to your brand, such as mentions of competitors or hot topics in your industry, is with a listening solution like Sprout Social. Setting up queries in social listening for sales—such as industry terms or variations of your brand name—can help you find new opportunities to shout out your product or identify brand advocates.

At Sprout, we use some of these same listening and monitoring techniques to make sure we’re up to date on the latest conversations around social marketing, and to ensure we’re connecting with brand advocates and customers looking for information or advice.

Connecting with influencers

Influencer marketing is an effective way to expose your brand to new audiences in your niche. It’s easy to associate influencer marketing with Instagram. But reaching out to industry influencers on Twitter can be a compelling way to strike up a conversation.

Identify the right influencers by monitoring conversations among professionals in your industry. You can use Sprout’s Social Listening feature to track industry trends while identifying key thought leaders contributing to the conversation.

Use Sprout Listening to track hashtags and influencers

With influencer marketing, it’s not enough to send a generic message. Get to know that influencer’s work and impact before you strike up a conversation. Influencers likely get hundreds of DMs so it’s important to make an impression and stand out.

When you direct message influencers, position a potential partnership as a mutually beneficial relationship. Outline how your brand fits into their sphere of influence and why they should introduce you to their audience. Twitter DMs are probably not the place that you’re going to make an official deal. But it is a great place to make the introduction and begin building a relationship.

Final thoughts

Twitter DMs have the potential to grow brand awareness, boost engagement and build more personal relationships with your audience.

When you’re using a social media management tool like Sprout, you have an entire world of opportunity at your fingertips. Respond to followers’ messages and concerns quickly with features such as Smart Inbox, and grow your rapport with your audience. To experience first-hand how easy it is to incorporate Twitter DMs into your social media marketing strategy, sign up for a free trial now.