Friday, December 21, 2012

Twitter Direct Messages: Right Way vs. Wrong Way to Use Them

Not too long ago, I wrote something about a mistake people make when using Direct Messages (DMs) on Twitter.
This seems silly, but basically, people do this all of the time on Twitter Direct Messages (DMs).
Reference: 1 Mistake People Make with Direct Messages on Twitter

After I gave a talk about Twitter (and how to use it) recently, I realized that I meant to stress an important point, but I forgot.  In fact, it was one of the most important points I wanted to share.

Oops!  It happens, sometimes.

Direct Messages (DMs) can be SUCH a powerful tool on Twitter, but largely, I see people ignoring its true power and abusing it with less effective approaches.

Let me compare good vs. bad ways to use Twitter Direct Messages...

The Wrong Ways to Use Twitter Direct Messages

I'm probably missing things here, but here is what I've noticed, and I think you'll get the idea.

Selling: I know I've never met you, but I was just HOPING that you would ask for me to visit your website and have me PAY for something...or NOT.

Why do people think that THIS is an effective selling method?  I wonder how often this works for the people and companies with the "best results."

Giving Assignments: Again, I've never met you, but you want me to check out your Facebook Page, for instance.  Is there any reason that I should take time to do this?  Within 140 characters, I doubt you can make a very convincing case for me (or anyone else) to do that.

These seem to happen when I receive "autoreply" Direct Messages on Twitter.  They're unpersonalized and virtually meaningless.

Other examples of "like" offenders?

"Check out this website..."
"Learn more about me at..."
"Follow (other people I don't know)..."
"You have an invite (despite the fact you know nothing about me)..."
"Best place to order..."

I'm sure I'm missing TONS, but I'm confident that I've made my point.

The Right Ways to Use Twitter Direct Messages

It's only fair that if I complain about the WRONG ways to use Twitter Direct Messages, I should provide the RIGHT ways to use them.

In general, the more personal I can make them, the better they seem to work for me.  Here are the ways I try to use DMs effectively.

Continue Existing Conversation...Privately: Sometimes, a conversation on Twitter starts with a lot of banter.  Then it evolves to a point where too many words need to be minced, because it starts to get personal...largely in a good way.  However, there are SOME things that should NOT be shared publicly.

THIS is a perfect time to take things to Direct Messages on Twitter, especially if you do not have that person's email address.

Now, you can continue to have that conversation WITHOUT being too careful about your word selection, except for that 140 character limit thing. :)

Quick Note: ONCE I know you, I might have a quick thought that I want to share with you.  Possibly, I might want to ask you a quick question that only pertains to you--not the public.  THIS is a great time to use Direct Messages on Twitter.

The biggest difference between using Twitter Direct Messages and right way versus the wrong way is WHEN you use them.  If we already have a relationship, then let's take things "offline."  Otherwise, if I don't know you, your message probably really is not about's about you...and your needs, and it's obvious.

What are your thoughts?  When do you like getting direct messages on Twitter?  Any times you DISLIKE getting them?

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