In this bandwidth-challenged-from-a-hotel edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about Twitter’s new move to enable direct messages to be sent and received even if both parties are not following one another.
This has always been one of the quirks of Twitter, that you had to “follow back” to exchange DMs. In some ways, it’s kind of nice, because the DM can be a bit of a Spam-free respite, except for the “Have you seen this? LOL” messages due to viruses or hacks. Now, the protected DM wall is coming down.
However, in what I believe to be a very wise decision, Twitter is requiring users to opt-in to receive DMs without follow-back. I do not expect many individual Twitter users to embrace this new option, as you’d be opening yourself up to who knows what via DM, given that the quality of dialog on the platform is steadily devolving toward Myspace standards.
Good News for Big Brands
The real winners here will be companies using Twitter for customer service at scale, as the first reply to an angry customer can now be something other than “please make sure we’re following each other, and we’ll send you a direct message.” That is ungainly in the best of circumstances, and infuriating in a customer service scenario.
Almost simultaneously, Twitter also announced that advertisers can create and stage tweets up to one year in advance. This is more happiness for big brands with editorial calendars and campaigns developed long in advance. Gotta get your St. Patrick’s Day tweets set up now! In truth, these “in the future” tweets have been set up to be staged via spreadsheet or third party management console like Salesforce MarketingCloud (client), but being able to set them up natively on Twitter is a time saver.
Note that this only applies to tweets scheduled as part of an ad campaign, not “regular” tweets. Which is a shame, because how nice would it be to set up a bunch of Happy Birthday tweets and so forth all at one time?
Are You a Buyer on Twitter?
As Twitter dukes it out for dollars vs. Facebook (both “regular” Facebook and Instagram), plus Pinterest and the rest, these moves to make the platform easier and more common-sensical for big brand usage are smart and timely. Reminds me of what Google did many years ago when they polished up AdWords to take it beyond the small biz crowd and toward the boardroom.
There are some things about Twitter that continue to bug me (like the gutting of their third party developer program), but I’m continually impressed by their execution. I’m not going to sell my house or anything, but I’m a buyer when the IPO hits. You?