How to Allow Direct Messages (DMs) from Anyone on Twitter (And Why it's Good For Business)

Big news! You can now opt-in to receive Direct Messages (DMs) on Twitter from anyone, whether you follow them or not. In the past, Twitter users could only send a DM to someone if they followed them first, and both would need to follow each other for a two-way chat to occur. 

What does this mean for businesses on Twitter?

By opting in to receive DMs from anyone, you make it easier for customers to initiate a private conversation with you - great for customer service issues that demand it, and stopping some negative interactions from being broadcast in the public Twitter feed., where everyone can see them.

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7 Powerful Ways to Use Pinned Tweets for Business to Engage, Inspire, and Sell

Pinned tweets (the ability to "sticky" one of your tweets to the top of your Twitter feed for an indefinite period) was introduced earlier this year "so [that] it’s easy for your followers to see what you’re all about."  

While this is true, I'd argue that pinned tweets are even more powerful as a way to grab the attention of non-followers; anybody who happens upon your Twitter feed, and who you have the opportunity to influence with a non-moving "banner," guaranteed to be the first thing they see. Big businesses utilise pinned tweets in all manner of ways and for many different purposes, so let's take a look at some real life examples to help inspire your own activity:

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How NOT to Tweet A Customer Who's Had A Car Accident (A Lesson in Tact and Timing)

There's no questioning the power of Twitter as a tool for conducting fast and effective customer service. It's a topic I've touched on in the past, most recently with examples of how the bakery Greggs uses Twitter to deal expertly with disgruntled patrons, general queries, and all manner of miscellaneous mentions of its brand.  

However, for every company that is handling customer service on Twitter like a baws, there's another that isn't quite on point; a situation made worse when its intentions were genuine and it obviously didn't mean to cause any harm. Case in point is the following example:

A friend, Pippa, was recently involved in a bit of a nasty car accident. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt. Here's the tweet she sent some time afterwards, complimenting Volkswagen more than anything...

That tweet was followed by another later on the same day. Sinclair Volkswagen, a local car dealer (presumably spotting a nearby mention of the brand) then replied...

The "very grateful to be waking up this morning" portion of Pippa's tweet should have been the first signal to Sinclair Volkswagen that her hunt for a new car wasn't being undertaken in the most positive or circumstances, and that some tact might be necessary in handling any interaction. If that didn't work (and it didn't), her reply to its friendly (and kind of promotional) approach - the first of any contact it had made - definitely cleared that up.

I must clarify that I'm positive Sinclair Volkswagen did not mean to cause any offence with its tweet and is no way a reflection of it as a brand as a whole, and I'm sure a simple and sincere apology to Pippa's reply to them would be more than enough to settle the matter. However, this example does demonstrate - as we see over and over again - how easy it for brands to cause upset on social media, especially if the necessary context is not sought beforehand, or if an eagerness to interact with customers is detrimental to the quality of the message sent.

Perhaps it's the inherent speed of communication on social media is also to blame; it's conditioned us all to reply to messages (both in our personal and professional circles) as soon as humanly possible, and to expect the same attention from others when we message them. 

Many marketers, including myself, advise that brands shouldn't leave customers hanging on social media while they wait for a response, or to pro-actively find them, but the example above reminds us that it always pays to take a step back to evaluate the situation in the first instance. No matter how well-intentioned a speedy response, one angry customer can cause an unexpected wave of negative publicity that no company wants to have to deal with.

Have you ever "tweeted before you think" or are you always careful to understand a customer's situation before you reply? Leave a comment to let me know.

Andrew Macarthy is a social media consultant and the author of the #1 Amazon Web Marketing Bestseller, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.

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5 Ways to Use Multiple Twitter Images for Social Media Marketing

5 Ways to Use Multiple Twitter Images for Social Media Marketing

The roll out of the ability to upload multiple images per tweet on Twitter makes the site's growing emphasis on videos even greater. For brands that think creatively, Twitter's multiple image uploads, and the way the pics display, opens up a new avenue for social media marketing opportunities. Here are 5 Ways to Use Multiple Twitter Images for Social Media Marketing...

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How to Use Illustrated Tweets for Business | Twitter Marketing With #illustratedtweets

How to Use Illustrated Tweets for Business | Twitter Marketing With #illustratedtweets

In October 2013, Twitter released a version of its app designed specifically for Android tablets, and with that update came a brand new feature - Illustrated Tweets. Let's take a look at how this new avenue of communication can be used to benefit your business.

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