Baer Facts, Social Media Tools

2 Twitter Changes Making Life Easier for Big Brands


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.

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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?


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  1. Jim Young says


    Is it your experience that brands with calendars like you describe are using the Twitter interface directly for posting? I agree that scheduled tweets are a time-saver, but given that so many social media management platforms have scheduled tweets among many other useful features, it feels to me like this is a little bit of “Me Too, but Too Late” from the Twitter folks.

    That said, I love the DM feature and will absolutely grab a few of that birds feathers when the IPO hits.

    • Kerry Jones says

      I agree with you on this, Jim. I also prefer to carefully handle ads in real-time. Not sure I see as much value in scheduling those as opposed to normal tweets.

      +1 for the DM feature, though!

  2. says

    I had no idea how in the minority I was on this – but I have found Direct Messages to be wholly useless, and for a long time. The only time I get DM’d is when someone wants me to follow their Facebook page too, or I get the automated “Thank you for following me!” message so many people think is a good idea. As a result I never read them. I regularly use various DM inbox cleaners to flush all these messages out – and these are from people I AM following!

    So this new ability to receive DMs from anyone seems like a march in the wrong direction, at least to me. I had hoped Twitter would allow me to limit who can DM me to, say, a specific list of actual friends I create. Unfortunately, if Twitter thinks my problem up until now is I haven’t been able to get enough unsolicited messages from strangers, limiting DMs is way off their radar.

  3. says

    I’m with @Ciaoenrico:disqus, I haven’t been an active DM user in quote some time. I prefer email or phone. You did note this as a win for big brands, not individuals. Thing is, this requires more individuals to still opt into this feature. Me thinks this added feature will still be overlooked as a true communication mechanism.

    Yet I agree, I’m interested in investing in Twitter. I think they’re here to stay. They are making the necessary changes to make it an all-in-one solution, which is smart. I feel bad for the Hootsuites of the world, but it’s smart for these platforms to have more “face-time” with their power users.

  4. says

    Hmmm…the DM feature is interesting. I definitely won’t be enabling it for my personal account. I already have to deal with the virus/hack dms…grrr! However, I can see it being incredibly useful for some of my clients accounts.

    As far as scheduled tweet ads, that’s a pretty cool feature, especially with ads around the holidays. I mean, what social media manager wants to take time out of their holiday fun to make sure that ad was posted. Even if it’s part of our job, it’s nice to be able to schedule it ahead of time and then check back periodically to see how they’re doing.

  5. Jake Parent says

    In some ways scheduling Tweets is rolling the dice. If some crazy event happens right when you start rolling out your Tweets you will, at best, be ignored and, at worse, come off as looking totally out of touch.

    Anyone have ideas on how a business can avoid that conflict?


    • says

      Hi Jake,

      If you know that you have something scheduled (say buffer-style at the same time) you can set an alarm on your phone to check the post before it goes out. That way if you know something’s going on, you can either edit the post, delete it, or whatever. :)

      This can get a bit tedious, but it’s better than ending up with egg on your face. :)

  6. DCAutoGeek says

    So those seeking customer service will instead of the “make sure you are following us” will get a note saying “please opt-in to the free-for-all DMs”? How in the world is that ‘better?’

    As for scheduling – don’t we already have calendars? And aren’t those calendars already used when planning oh EVERYTHING? How am I going to know what service or product I’ll need to push and to which demographic 6-8 months in advance?

    Curious if all the positive (read: cheerleading) thoughts on Twitter’s changes are fueled by speculators ready to cash in on IPO day.

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