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Man, do I hate it when I try to direct-message (DM) someone on Twitter, but can't because that person doesn't follow me.

First of all, who doesn't follow me? And secondly, why are they so privileged to not get my notes?

Alas, there's hope for me. Twitter opened that DM door this week.

Now, you can opt in and allow anyone to send you a DM. No need for them to be your follower to send them a message.

It's kinda like email -- if someone has your address, they can ping you, provided they opt in.

"We’re changing how direct messaging works so that it’s even easier for you to communicate one-to-one or with a chosen group of people, anywhere in the world," Twitter's Nhu Vuong wrote in an April 20 blog post.

I love this as a reporter. (So watch your Twitter inboxes, my trustworthy sources). 

I'm not the only one affected here. Think brands.

Don't Random Target

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Do you opt in as an organization? Do you open the door for people to DM your brand on Twitter? And who's controlling this? Marketing? Sales?

Better yet -- will your org blast messages now to prospects who have opened their Twitter DM gates?

"Randomly targeting Twitter users with spammy sales offer messaging will not generate business results any better than spam emails do," said Scott Armstrong, partner at Brainrider, a Toronto-based Salesforce Pardot preferred partner. "And it risks a social backlash and credibility erosion and spam reporting."

For complex sale B2B marketers managing a marketing pipeline of leads and a customer-focused approach is always more successful, Armstrong told CMSWire.

"This means understanding what your prospect wants to know based on their needs and pains and your areas of expertise," he said. "The more targeted you can be with messaging related to what a prospect wants to know, the more successful your campaign will be."

How can B2B marketers leverage Twitter DMs? Is Twitter even worth it for B2B marketers? Marketers must first test campaigns that leverage social media monitoring listening for specific conversations related to the buyer needs and pains you target, according to Armstrong.

"But the key to success for these campaigns will be timeliness relevance, and perceived value of the content offer, not size of the list," he added. "It is a very targeted and limited approach."

On the Defense

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What about incoming messages? Brands need to be ready for that, too. That is, again, if your brand opens its DM doors.

Kathy Juve, chief marketing officer at [24]7, said social customer service representatives need to be armed with “context” to know the customer’s complete journey from website to chat to social in order to properly alleviate the customer’s issue.

She called for brands to use the Twitter DM news to spark more attention to the integration of social channels with web, chat, mobile, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and phone channels. 

She told CMSWire brands specifically should:

  • Enhance your loyalty. Using predictive analytics, brands can leverage the open DM tool to share targeted offers, sales and service information based on past customer service journeys. This allows marketers to stand apart from the crowd and continue to foster an effortless experience with the brand.   
  • Become an industry resource. By using open DM to offer general resources without a hard sell, users may be more accepting of the interaction and be more likely to engage further. As a secondary layer, brands can then track this interaction, so that if the consumer does reach out via the website, chat or by phone, the context of their inquiry carries through seamlessly.
  • Ensure they’re opting in. While the new tool does offer brands easy access to its current and potential customers, reaching out without any indication that the user is interested can cause serious backlash. [24]7’s consumer index survey concluded that 64 percent of respondents still want to start their customer journey through a website. Brands should be sure to be supporting these channels in conjunction with Twitter to encourage customers to opt-in and engage.

Wait and See?

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We may have to wait a while to see the real value of open Twitter DMs. Adrienne Erin, an earned media analyst for WebpageFX, said with an opt-in feature, many businesses will likely be slow to adopt it.

"The pool might not be as wide as people think," she said, "at least right off the bat."

When you do get cracking on it, don't overuse it. You could easily be perceived as spammy, Erin said. So don't treat it like a "marketing tool," but rather a "social networking tool."

"I would still make an initial connection by tweeting to them or @mentioning them publicly before moving onto a DM if it's not a sensitive situation," she added. "It is obvious but worth mentioning that you shouldn't DM something you couldn't publicly tweet. Remember not to lead the message with why they should use your service. Get to know the person behind the keyboard, so to speak, because often times it's a marketing person, not a C-Suite -- but you need them to pass your info on so build that relationship."

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by mRio.