If you commonly use Twitter, you may have noticed a recent subtle change to Twitter’s direct messaging feature. What “subtle change”? Well, whereas direct messages could previously only be sent on Twitter by and to users who follow each other and by users to other users who follow them, a new setting means that Twitter users can now choose to receive direct messages from any other user. The number and nature of all of the implications of this change remain unclear, but we reckon that many businesses using Twitter could benefit from it; below, we explain precisely how.

A great new feature for businesses – provided they don’t spam

The new setting can be enabled by a user who, at their Twitter settings, clicks to enable a tick in the box alongside the sentence “If you check this option, any Twitter user that follows you will be able to send you a DM, regardless of whether you decide to follow them back.” Once a business using Twitter enables this setting, they can enjoy having more direct, one-to-one relationships with each of their customers who seek to contact them on Twitter. They can also use TweepForce engagements and direct message other Twitter users who have enabled the aforementioned setting. However, they should avoid spamming through direct messaging, as Twitter have recently taken steps to sort out the problem of common direct message spamming.

Businesses can learn from two Twitter DM experiments

Two Twitter accounts recently set up and used experimentally by Twitter hint at how businesses could more effectively engage with customers. The two Twitter accounts are those of @MagicRecs and @eventparrot; though they serve slightly different purposes, they both direct message their followers with recommendations, @MagicRecs sending recommendations on what Twitter users to follow and @eventparrot sending recommendations on what breaking news stories to read. Businesses can be inspired by these experiments by using Twitter to both identify new potential customers and then recommend content to them.

Rumours that can also inspire businesses

Current rumours suggest that Twitter is considering making their direct messaging feature an app separate from the main Twitter app. Twitter might be considering this to attempt to make progress in the direct messaging app market currently largely occupied by BBM and WhatsApp. The lesson in this for businesses is that they should seek to offer particularly unique things in their direct messages to entice previous, current and potential customers.