A change is coming to Twitter (News - Alert), and it may be good news or bad news, depending on your perspective. The wildly popular microblogging service whose parent company is soon to go public has added a feature that will allow users to target direct messaging (DM) at one another, regardless of whether they follow one another. (Previously, two users had to be following each other in order to use DM.)
While some users have had this ability as far back as 2011, according to Mashable’s Nellie Akalp, this new ability will be rolled out to all Twitter users shortly. Industry bloggers are mixed in their reaction to the change. Akalp notes that the service is likely to be “good for brands, good for spammers and bad for everyone else.”
It’s great for brands that want to communicate directly with customers. (From the flip side, many will consider this “spam,” of course.) For consumers, this may mean having to clear out the DM inbox a lot more often. But there’s another reason it might be good for companies: it might create a more private forum for customer complaints.
Image courtesy Shutterstock
“This new change will benefit brands that use Twitter as a customer service channel,” writes Akalp. “By allowing their accounts to accept DMs from anyone, brands can receive private customer service messages from customers, without having to first follow them. That may prevent customers from broadcasting their frustrations publicly, not to mention their sensitive account information. This could greatly benefit larger brands that receive thousands of daily requests via Twitter.”
There’s an upside for consumers, too, who might wish to communicate directly with a company, but don’t wish to be followed by (and then, by association, bombarded with marketing messages from) that company.
In addition, says Akalp, there are privacy considerations for companies or individuals that want to avoid broadcasting sensitive information: think frequent flyer numbers or addresses.
“Likewise, a marketer may want to pitch a journalist with an embargoed piece of news or story idea,” writes Akalp. “Twitter may be that journalist’s preferred communication channel, but as a marketer, you can’t exactly expect reporters or editors to follow you. Now marketers can privately contact journalists via Twitter (provided the journalist has opted in).”
In the end, of course, the only way to predict whether this feature is going to work for everyone is to implement it and run with it. Knowing Twitter users, if they don’t like it, they are unlikely to remain quiet about it.