“Better late than never” seems to be Twitter’s mindset when it comes to messaging trends. Toward the end of 2016, the social media network finally started implementing some of the recently growing direct messaging functionality.
In November 2016, Twitter rolled out welcome messages and quick reply buttons to help brands automate their direct message (DM) conversations with customers. In May 2017, they launched Direct Message Cards — a unique type of ad unit that attaches up to four fully customizable, “conversation-starter” call-to-action buttons. The intention here is for users to start a private conversation with a business’ chatbots in Direct Messages.
Travis Lull, Senior Product Manager at Twitter explains:
This new card will help businesses drive discovery of such experiences both through promoted tweets and organic sharing. Using a Direct Message Card, businesses can capture people’s attention with engaging images or video creatives, and include up to four fully customizable call-to-action buttons.
Patrón Tequila, uses a Direct Message Card to prompt users to engage with its chatbot, which creates personalized cocktail recommendations based on responses to questions around occasion and flavor:
While these Twitter direct message features are great for initiating and maintaining conversations, Twitter took action to further improve its DM process. In June 2017, it launched Direct Message Buttons — a feature that allows brands to take customers beyond a discussion alone, sending them outside of the DM conversation.
Before we get ahead of ourselves and delve into how and why to use Twitter DM buttons, let’s quickly discuss the basics of direct messaging on Twitter.
How to DM on Twitter
Anyone can initiate a private conversation with another user who follows them. Those who don’t can only send a DM if you’ve previously sent them a message, or if you’ve opted in your settings to receive messages from anyone (most business choose this setting). Direct messages can also be started as a group conversation. In this case, everyone in the group can see all messages, even if they don’t follow each other.
Here are the steps to sending a Twitter direct message:
- Click the Twitter direct message icon, labeled “Messages”, in the top navigation bar.
- In the Direct Message pop-up, click “New Message” in the top right corner.
- In the “Send message to” box, enter the name(s) or @username(s) of your recipients and click the “Next” button.
- Along with text, you can also include a photo, video, GIF, or emoji sticker:
- Type your message in the text box.
- Click the photo icon to upload a photo or video.
- Click the GIF icon to search for and select a file from the media library.
- Click the smiley face icon to select an emoji.
- Click the “Send” button, or press the enter key, to send your message. (Note: To start a new line in a message, press the shift and enter keys simultaneously.)
Why you should attach a DM button on Twitter
On June 13, 2017, Twitter launched the Direct Message Button to complement their Direct Message Cards.
As previously mentioned, Direct Message Cards initiate and maintain an engaging conversation, but Twitter DM buttons allow businesses to take customers beyond that conversation. By attaching these buttons to messages, they can more easily encourage people to engage with their brand and take concrete actions, both inside and outside the Twitter platform.
Although Twitter call-to-action buttons have been a part of Twitter ad units for years, they were never previously available to include with DMs. Launching this new functionality allowed the network to join every other bot platform today — including Facebook Messenger, Microsoft, and Kik — with DM bots that closely resemble chatbots on these other popular chat apps.
While anyone can create direct message buttons with Twitter’s API, they’re most useful for brands and advertisers looking to improve their customer service or increase engagement.
Here are the four calls-to-action users can incorporate into their direct messaging via Twitter DM buttons — three of which can be attached to a single message at a time:
1. Send a tweet
At certain points during a private conversation, people might want to publicly Tweet about an experience — a coupon or offer, a new product release, an exclusive movie clip, etc. That’s the beauty of this new functionality. By combining private Twitter DM buttons with public Direct Message Cards, people can post pre-written Tweets, and easily advocate for your brand and encourage others to discover and engage with your company.
Here’s an example from the Twitter blog itself:
2. Follow an account
If your settings are adjusted to ‘Receive Direct Messages from anyone’, non-followers can contact you as well. That means not everyone who DMs you necessarily follows your account. That’s why “follow” buttons are useful — they direct people to your main profile page to follow your account.
3. Start a conversation
If your business uses multiple Twitter accounts for different purposes or departments, giving customers the option to easily start a conversation with a different account is extremely convenient and effective for improving customer service. This would come in handy, for example, if a customer reaches out to your marketing account when they actually require your customer service account. The “start a conversation” button can be used to easily guide that customer into a new Twitter direct message.
4. Visit a website
After having a conversation with your DM bot, people might be interested in more information, or may even be ready to make a purchase. This is where link buttons come in. You can create a button that links them to your website for more general information. Even better, link them to a dedicated landing page for specific information about a certain offer or promotion. This is how to truly optimize the post-ad click experience.
Here’s an example that shows how to send people from a private conversation to an external webpage or sales page to purchase concert tickets:
When people click DM link buttons, the site is opened using Twitter’s in-app browser. Once the person is finished with the site, they are brought back to the direct message thread to continue their conversation.
No matter what Twitter DM buttons you choose to include in your DM bot, the text on each one is fully customizable, and even supports emojis.
Let’s take a look at how two real companies are utilizing Twitter DM buttons to take their customers further than a simple conversation.
Companies using Twitter DM buttons
Focus Features has a DM bot that has several unique characteristics. It highlights trailers for their upcoming movies, allows people to buy movie tickets, enables customers to join their rewards program, and connects people to a live customer service representative.
For their movie, The Beguiled — released in June 2017, shortly after the DM button functionality was launched — Focus Features added even more unique features to their chatbot. People could play a trivia game to increase excitement about the release, and upon completion, they were encouraged to share their score and invite others to take the quiz as well (see example above).
Joshua Kornblit, SVP Digital Marketing at Focus Features expresses his excitement for the functionality:
Twitter provides a unique and powerful platform for us to directly engage with our core audience and we're excited about the ability to turn that audience into an organic source of discovery for our bot.
STXfilms created a character-driven chatbot for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets — their sci-fi action adventure that was released in July 2017. The bot allowed fans to engage in conversations with characters from the movie, and even experience training. Once users reached a certain point in the storyline, they received a message with a DM button attached, letting them know they can unlock exclusive content if they share the bot with their followers:
And as Ramzy Zeidan, VP of Digital Marketing at STXfilms elaborates:
Movies are discovered on Twitter in real time. People watch the trailer, Tweet their thoughts, read the reactions of others, and engage with the movie, cast and crew directly. We're excited to extend the Valerian experience on Twitter with a rich and engaging Direct Message bot. The new ability to get people to share the experience with their followers allows for more engagement, excitement, and conversation about Valerian.
How to get the big DM button on Twitter
Now that we’ve covered the most important DM button details, it only makes sense to quickly discuss how to make those buttons as effective as possible. The answer is to capture people’s attention and persuade them to start a direct message with your company.
To do this, prominently display the large “Message” button in your Twitter bio, like this:
Here are the three simple steps to get the big DM button on your profile page:
Visit the Twitter Business customer support page.
Click the blue “Add business feature” button.
In the “Support account” section, check the “Show that my account provides support” box. This will prompt you to allow direct messages from anyone, and will automatically check the “Receive Direct Messages from anyone” box in the “Direct Messages” section.
Improve your customer service with Twitter DM Buttons
From welcome messages and quick replies, to Direct Message Cards and now DM Buttons, Twitter continues to make it easier than ever to deliver top-notch customer service to your fans and followers.
Keep in mind, whenever you are promoting a new product or service, offering a discount or trial, etc. each of your website-linked DM Buttons should be directed to a dedicated landing page, created with Instapage — the best post-click optimization platform for digital advertising campaigns.