When you think of direct messages - or DMs - on social, what comes to mind?
Many social media users consider this feature to be spammy and not worth their time. They see what's wrong with it and ignore its potential.
But while the misuse of direct messaging is commonplace, there are ways to use DMs in a non-intrusive, welcoming way, which can provide additional avenues for connection to potential customers and expand your presence and standing.
Its an opportunity many miss due to those negative perceptions.
Here are some direct messaging notes and best practice tips that will help you use the feature to your benefit, instead of becoming a nuisance to your recipients.
The Problems with Direct Messaging
When you look at your direct messages on Twitter or Facebook, you'll likely see messages from new followers and fans.
The problems with these messages are generally:
- That they're automated with a generic message that has no relevant value
- That they're a direct sales pitch for a product you don't want or can't use
These common missteps then make it even harder for you to use DMs - after receiving enough of these spam-type messages, the recipient may completely ignore your message. They may even have a "No DMs" message in their Twitter bio.
So how can you get your message across when the recipient refuses to participate?
The Potential of Direct Messaging
When you're ready to use social media's direct messaging services to your advantage, you need to know how to do it correctly.
This is where these best practices come in handy.
First, on Twitter, if you want your services to reach a larger audience, change your direct message settings to allow them from anybody, even those users you don't follow. To do this, go to 'Settings', then 'Privacy and Safety' and tick the 'Receive Direct Messages from Anyone' box.
Yes, this does also open you up to greater potential spam messages, but you'll also have the opportunity to help people, including customers and prospects, without forcing a follow from your account.
(Note: You can also do the same on Twitter, via their Business Settings page)
Facebook rewards fast response rates, so this is an opportunity to impress your fans and build a sense of reliability.
On social media in general, when you allow communication via private message, you're offering a great customer service opportunity. People who are either interested in your offerings or currently use them will be able to communicate with you without making their comments public. Many people prefer this kind of communication, so when you offer it, your brand becomes more approachable.
Messaging services give brands the ability to bring conversation to commerce inquiries. This is called "conversational commerce." Use the opportunity to effectively communicate with your customers through direct messaging on social media. You just might see a boost in customer engagement, brand loyalty, and future sales.
But one of the most important best practices for using social media direct messages is this:
You need to be strategic with your automated messages.
When you send an automated message that's irrelevant or has no value to that user, the recipient will either ignore it, or worse, unfollow and complain about it publicly. By creating a message that fits well with your engaged audience, you lower the chances of negative reactions and increase the chances of building value-based relationships.
Lastly, a key best practice is for you to actively monitor and respond to your direct messages. When a message is a legit inquiry, don't ignore it. Don't let extra time pass between when the user sent the message and when you responded.
Social media users have high expectations for brand response times, even in private messages. The longer they have to wait, the more likely they'll go to a competitor for assistance. .
In the end, direct messages can result in one of two outcomes: it can lead to something of value or it can push people away. This feature is definitely a negative when it's misused, but used well it can be extremely effective.
Don't let past perceptions of DMs turn you off, there are ways to use them which can be beneficial to both you and your audience. Ignoring them is a missed opportunity.