Twitter just announced two new features aimed at facilitating customer service across the service:
- A custom link format for inviting customers to initiate a direct message.
- A method for soliciting feedback from customers about quality of service.
Of the new features, only the first is available immediately to all Twitter users. I was intrigued by the feature because I imagined it eliminating the uncomfortable process of businesses either having to ask customers to follow, or setting their direct messages to be “open” to anybody. Unfortunately, the feature does nothing to empower direct messaging between two consenting parties. It serves only as a shortcut for initiating a DM that would already be permitted:
Using this new feature is easy. It requires that your Twitter account settings are set to “Receive Direct Messages from Anyone”…
I guess being open to “direct messages from anyone” is a viable approach for some businesses, and maybe it is even the right choice for any business wanting to remain completely accessible to customers. But my experience turning the feature on for my private account was that it led to unwanted solicitations. Although I generally want to remain accessible to people, it was an invitation for nuisance inquiries.
I hoped upon seeing the news of this feature, that it might have been a feature that allowed a temporary, targeted permission to DM. This would be useful for businesses but also for individuals who are hesitant to either follow a person or open up DMs completely, but nonetheless wish to communicate privately for a short time.
My vision for the feature is close to what Twitter has announced: you would still tweet a “magic URL” to somebody empowering them to open up a DM conversation, but the very act of sending that URL to a person’s (@-messaged) account would open a hole in your DM permissions allowing them to reach you even if you neither followed them nor had completely open DMs turned on.
I imagine a scenario where the presence of such a link implied consent to DM for 48 hours or so, and where every response by DM to that user would extend the consent for another interval of time.
This would facilitate more direct, nuanced conversation between Twitter users, without forcing them to choose whether to be completely vulnerable to the world, to establish unwanted, short-term follower connections, or else more likely, avoid the interaction altogether.