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Are Twitter Direct Messages Useful Marketing Tools?

Updated on March 5, 2013

The most effective uses of Twitter Direct Messages are at opportune moments

  • thank a new follower
  • share a contest
  • promote a special price or event

How do Twitter Direct Messages work?

Anyone you are following on Twitter can send you a direct message. To access your direct messages, simply click the gear on the upper right of the screen and select Direct Messages from the drop-down menu. You can also click the envelope icon on your profile page. Each direct message you receive starts a separate conversation. Click on any one of them and a new screen pops up where you can see all the back and forth with that person in this conversation. It works very similarly to Facebook messaging in this regard.

Are they safe?

A big issue with Twitter Direct Messages is safety. Many DMs include links that have been shortened and you have no way to know what they are. Frequently, users are hacked and their account will send out a mass of spam messages with words like “Did you see this horrible picture of you? LOL” that link to harmful sites. Never click a link like this, ever.

But a lot of individuals and corporations use Twitter direct messages legitimately so if you are reading them use caution but you don’t have to disregard all direct messages out of hand.

Can I block them?

Sure, but only on an individual basis, not all direct messages. It will help you if one individual is being a pain (so does the Block option) but for the random direct message there’s really no point. You may receive one from a person you recently followed and then they will never send you one again.

How do you effectively market with Twitter Direct Messages?

There is a lot of power in direct messages, but you need to evaluate the pros and cons and see if they fit in your strategy.

On the one hand, this message is separate from the main feed which can be quite busy for most users. It is set apart and easy to find. It can get their attention easily if they are using a mobile app or text alerts. You have a platform there to quickly convey an important message such as a simple thank you and great to connect with you type message, an important blurb or link about what you are marketing (yourself, your work, your product, etc), or a push for the person to also connect with you on another medium such as Facebook or Google Plus.

But there are downsides too. Spammers love these and because of it many people ignore them altogether and if you are perceived as too pushy, you can turn someone off entirely.

The most effective uses are at opportune moments , such as welcoming new followers with a thank you and a link to what you offer, or if you are running a special or contest that could draw in a lot of new connections.

When it comes to Twitter direct messages you need to weigh the options and decide if the risk is worth the potential gain. Many have said yes and use them nicely in their overall strategy. Some avoid them. If you do move forward with direct messages ensure they are not your only method of reaching followers and that you use them judiciously. Never use them to spam your followers - promote as needed but do not alienate your base with this technique.


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