Recently, Twitter released a major update that aims to make private conversations easier than ever.
Previously, Twitter allowed users who follow each other to send direct messages back and forth, or for users to send direct messages to accounts that follow them. Now, Twitter has removed these restrictions, allowing anyone and everyone to share direct messages.
This is a real statement of intent made by one of the leading social networking sites. This will change the face of Twitter, especially for brands.
Twitter made the announcement on April, 20th, blogging “we’re rolling out these changes starting today to all users around the world. And 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.”
At the moment, the update is only available for mobile users on the i0S and Android platforms. There has been no official statement about whether this update will ever be available for desktop users.
To activate this feature, check the box next to ‘Receive Direct Messages from anyone’ in your Security and privacy settings:
Don’t worry! The setting to receive direct messages from anyone will be turned off by default on all accounts until activated.
Why the need for change?
Twitter has introduced the changes to help people connect more easily and directly with others.
It’s an interesting move by the company, and it’s likely an effort to compete against messaging apps like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. Just a few weeks ago, Whatsapp passed a milestone when CEO Jan Koum announced that it had reached 800 million active users:
Twitter had roughly 288 million active users as of the fourth quarter of 2014. Twitter also recently announced direct messages for groups too, so it’s clearly looking to claim back some territory. Bottom line, Twitter is playing catch up with other major social networking sites.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly For Brands
While this update will potentially benefit all Twitter users, it will be particularly useful for businesses. Brands can now reach out to users with discount codes, coupons, or other offers through direct messages, whilst also improving customer support services. If managed effectively, this could become very powerful.
On the downside, such messages could get spammy fast, so companies must use this new feature carefully.
The major concern many brands will face is the potential for abuse and harassment. Twitter has always pledged to crackdown on abuse, introducing new filters and tighter rules. Businesses that opt to accept all Direct Messages will retain the ability to block and report users they don’t want to communicate with.
The power is yours, whether you decide to activate it or not, is your decision.
Only time will tell if this was the right move by Twitter.