Twitter users can now opt-in to receive Direct Messages from anyone – even those that don’t follow them.

Updated messaging rules will apply if a user opts into this feature, so he or she can reply to anyone who sends him or her a Direct Message. A new Direct Message button will also appear on profile pages on Android and iPhone for those who have opted in.

Forrest_Twitter_Direct_Messages_Open

Don’t be too quick to turn on the green light, as there are a few things brands should consider before moving forward with this new feature.

  1. Do you have a plan and process in place for monitoring and responding to a potential increase in incoming messages?
  2. Do you have approved communication ready for common problems, issues, or questions?
  3. Do you need to incorporate your customer service team in your community management process? If so, do you have the right social media management tools in place to delegate tasks and respond in real-time?

In a recent study about customer service on Twitter, Simply Measured found that among the 43 percent of top global brands with dedicated customer service handles, the number of inbound mentions has grown by 41 percent year-over-year.

If a brand has its customer service team integrated with social media community management, this new feature from Twitter may benefit it. Giving users the ability to send DMs without having to follow and be followed is important for the following reasons.

Negative Conversations can be Private, Faster

This feature allows consumers to go directly to the brand privately, taking the conversation offline immediately. In turn, it can limit negative exposure for your brand. A consumer can choose to just DM a brand first, instead of posting a tweet or @reply to try and catch the brand’s attention.

Problems can be Solved Quicker

Right now, community managers and customer service teams have to request follows before they can DM the consumer to assist. This feature cuts that step out and enables faster direct communication.

Users Have the Power

Social channels like Twitter are enabling 1:1 conversations with brands to be as accessible as possible. If consumers can immediately engage in a direct conversation with your competitor, they may choose that experience over yours for ease of use and their expectation of quick access and availability.

While this is a small channel update, the implications to opting into this feature can be a game-changer for brands – for the good or bad – depending on if they have a plan to execute it properly.

To change settings and opt into this new feature from Twitter, users can follow these instructions.

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