Twitter is one of the most popular social platform for brands and it is being used for everything from mass marketing to customer service. 

But some use cases have been easier to deal with than others because of Twitter's restrictions on Direct Messages (DMs) which require the recipient of a DM to be following the sender. 

This week, Twitter announced that it's trying to ease that pain point by allowing users to accept DMs from any other Twitter user without following.

Additionally as part of this update, Twitter is now allowing users to respond to all DMs they receive regardless of the following status of the sender.

To make it easier for users to identify the accounts they can DM, the social media giant has added a new Direct Message button in its iPhone and Android apps that appears on the profiles of people users have the ability to message.

A blessing or curse for brands?

According to Twitter, this is just the beginning of an effort to improve its private messaging experience.

As Nhu Vuon, a Twitter engineer, stated in a blog post "we have lots more in the works to improve Direct Messages on Twitter, so that the private side of Twitter is just as fulfilling as the public side."

While this effort will potentially benefit all Twitter users, the primary target may be businesses. As TechCrunch's Sarah Perez details:

We had previously heard that this use case for brands and businesses was something Twitter wanted to focus on in the near future, as it would allow users and brands to communicate directly and privately without the hassle of the following request. This is important because many businesses use Twitter for customer support, and that can sometimes require the exchange of personal and private information, including financial info, which, for obvious reasons, needs to take place over DMs.

But brands will have to think carefully about whether or not they decide to open their accounts up to DMs.

On one hand, there are use cases for which this is desirable if not necessary. On the other hand, some brands could find themselves inundated with DMs. For those that can't cope with the volume, that could create a customer experience problem.

One of the biggest concerns some brands will face is the potential for abuse. Twitter is trying to crack down on this, and businesses that opt to accept all DMs will retain the ability to block users they don't want to communicate with.

However as Twitter evolves from being primarily a one-to-many channel to a platform equally capable of being one-to-many and one-to-one, brands should be prepared for all the issues they might encounter.

Patricio Robles

Published 23 April, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2647 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)

Martin Hill-Wilson

Martin Hill-Wilson, Owner at Brainfood Consulting

This will only be an issue if a brand has not got the right routing infrastructure in place. It's no different that any other form of inbound voice or text.

over 3 years ago


Alana Walden, Operations Team at Brand Recruitment

Hi Patricio, thanks for this post.

I think for a lot of companies (e.g. online retailers) that use social media as the main way to deal with any customer queries/complaints, this will definitely be a good thing as it should in theory make the customer experience better as problems can be dealt with more quickly. As opposed to having to tweet a company, then wait for them to tweet back, maybe you having to tweet them again, then wait for them to follow you and so on. Being able to just directly message the company will mean you can fully explain the issue in a private conversation and this would hopefully lead to an issue being dealt with much faster.

Kind regards,


over 3 years ago

Jamieson McCormack

Jamieson McCormack, Digital Engagement Coordinaotr at Vega

Is this in play now, or in the works?

over 3 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.