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What Twitter’s New Direct Messaging Feature Means (Or Doesn’t Mean) For Marketers

Earlier this week reports surfaced that Twitter it will be expanding its directing messaging feature. This means instead of the old follow back requirement, users will be able to opt in to receive messages from anyone regardless of who’s following who. But don’t worry you can opt out and your Twitter experience will remain unchanged.

Seems like a subtle change, but as a writer for Fast Company points out the move, “adds some very important utility to the system, and positions it even more as a 21st-century alternative to email.” And as Twitter approaches its IPO these simple adjustments may just add a little more value to the popular social network.

But what are the implications for marketers? A writer for Mashable notes that feature’s impact on marketers seems to be a bit unclear. Twitter has branded itself as an open forum for communication making us wonder if direct messages really have anything to add for marketers? This open channel of conversation we speak of is notably Twitter’s advantage over other social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, so why mess with a good thing? Let’s go back that whole alternative to email idea.

The openness of direct messages allows a marketer to communicate privately with its Twitter following. So for example, if you’re Macy’s and you want to offer a free coupon code to select customers this allows you to do so just like you might through an email marketing campaign.

Marketers can also look at this from a customer service perspective. By opening up direct messaging Twitter is offering brands and marketers another channel for feedback. And let’s be honest sometimes that feedback may be negative so a direct message allows for a more private conversation between a customer and a brand.

But some are worried its just another opportunity for spam to ruin the Twitter experience. And this may be true as spammers will have easy access to send messages to any user of their choosing.

Nevertheless many believe it’s a move to make the service more appealing to brands and advertisers as the company heads for IPO. So will the change have an impact? It’s debateable. Only time will tell if we’ll see a shift the way people communicate on the network, or if things simply remain unchanged.