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Twitter Direct Message: To DM or Not to DM?

Twitter Direct Message Tips-01

Private or public messaging, that is the question—especially when it comes to social customer service. While most customer service interactions on Twitter start as a public message from a consumer, mentioning the name or @mentioning the handle of a brand, public messages aren’t always the best place to share certain information or resolve an issue.

So when and why is it appropriate to initiate a Twitter Direct Message with a consumer? Read on to learn the ins and outs of Twitter DMs, how your brand can use them to provide better customer care, and other creative ways to use DMs to improve your presence on this popular network.

What Is a Twitter Direct Message?

The public side of Twitter allows users to Tweet messages of 140 characters or fewer, and these messages show up on their profile page and on the Home timelines of their followers. Direct Messages, on the other hand, are private one-on-one or group messages that only show up to those involved.

While Direct Messages used to be limited to 140 characters, just like public Tweets, Twitter expanded the character limit of Direct Messages to 10,000 in August 2015. Users can also send pictures, videos, GIFs and emojis via Direct Message.

You can start a Direct Message with any user or group of users who follow you, and you are also able to reply to anyone who sends you a DM even if they do not follow your account. Many businesses on Twitter have also enabled a setting that allows them to receive DMs from anyone, even accounts they don’t follow, which is a strategic way to offer customers a private way to reach out. To receive DMs from anyone, you need to enable this functionality from the Security and Privacy settings page on Twitter.

Enable Twitter Direct Messages from Anyone

Direct Messages for Twitter Customer Service

Brands can use Twitter Direct Messages in a variety of ways, from customer care to sales outreach. The most common use case is for social customer service. this allows brands to communicate in a private message, which gives users greater security if they need to share sensitive information to help resolve an issue. Additionally, the longer character limit allows both parties to explain an issue in greater depth.

Consider using a Direct Message if you want to:

  • Send or request sensitive information
  • Use more than 140 characters to troubleshoot an issue
  • Change channels to email or phone and request contact information to do so
  • Gather feedback on customer service interactions

To allow the customer to DM you, make sure you are following their account or have the option to allow DMs from anyone. In terms of protecting sensitive information, we recommend moving the conversation from public Tweets to Direct Messages if you need to ask for any of the following:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Mailing or billing address
  • Personal account information
  • Billing information
  • Specific items they have purchased from you
  • Security question or verification

You can also use Direct Messages to gather feedback after a customer service interaction. The Customer Feedback survey experience from Twitter allows users to privately share their feedback after service interactions with businesses. This feature is only available through Twitter customer service solutions partners like Sprout Social. Get more information on this feature here.

If you manage social for a brand, develop a protocol for when to use Direct Messages instead of public Tweets, and make sure everyone on your team is aware of guidelines and best practices. Protecting your customers’ information should always be a priority on social and in customer care.

Make the Switch: Taking a Conversation From Tweets to Direct Messages

While users often reach out with a Tweet, you can prompt them to switch to Direct Message instead. On native Twitter, you can simply reply to their Tweet with a request that they send a DM.

If you use a social media management tool like Sprout, it’s even easier to switch to Direct Messages. Once you have configured your settings on Twitter to allow anyone to DM your business, you will see an option in Sprout to send a DM prompt in your Twitter reply window. When responding to a Tweet, click the Add DM Link button to add a deep link that will take the customer directly to his or her Direct Message Compose screen.

Twitter Request DM and Feedback (Blog Post)-01-1

When switching from public Tweets to Direct Messages, we recommend sending a public reply first so it’s clear you’re addressing the conversation in a private channel. This way any other users who witnesses the interaction will know your brand is responsive and available to address any issues that arise.

Creative Uses for Twitter Direct Messages

DMs can also be used as a channel to facilitate sales outreach, connect with influencers and potential partners, surprise and delight community members or develop relationships with members of your community.

Surprise & Delight Your Fans

A quick look at M&M’s handle shows its social team practices social media monitoring to identify opportunities to create deeper experiences with consumers and fans. When one user shared her love for the song in an M&M’s commercial, the brand found an opportunity to share a sweet treat and sent her a message to take the conversation to Direct Message.

Connect With Influencers & Members of the Media

Monitoring mentions of your brand on Twitter should be part of every business social media strategy. When you use these mentions as a talking point, you begin fostering relationships that ultimately build up your community.

Start by identifying mentions from members of the media and social media influencers, and develop a strategy for personalized outreach using Direct Messages. Whether you send a simple thank you, offer to put them in touch with the best point of contact for future stories, or propose a partnership, DMs can be a great way to get the conversation started.

Nurture Sales Leads & Facilitate Social Selling

Consumers are increasingly turning to social media to research products and services before buying. In fact, 75% of consumers say they use social media in their buying process. Paying attention to conversations about your brand as well as adjacent topics can help you identify opportunities for social selling.

For example, here at Sprout Social, we often see Twitter users asking their peers to share their favorite social media management tools. When appropriate, we casually strike up a conversation to answer any specific questions they may have about Sprout and offer a link to a free 30-day trial if they’ve expressed interest.

In many cases, these conversations are public-facing. However, when someone wants to schedule a demo, inquires about custom pricing often take up more than 140 characters. So we take the conversation to Direct Messages in order to get contact information and to connect people with a Product Specialist.

Develop Relationships With New Followers

Welcoming new followers to your community is a nice touch, whether you send a Tweet or a Direct Message. Consider using Direct Messages to start a conversation with new members of your audience. For example, you can open with a question about what brought them to your brand or offer to help. You can even provide a discount code to thank them for their interest in your product or service.

Some brands opt to pursue new follower outreach with automated Direct Messages. But we encourage you to think about all the possible ramifications before adopting automatic social media messaging platforms for your business. An impersonal and clearly automated message comes across as spam. Automated DMs can quickly transform a new follower from an eager potential customer to someone who dismisses your brand and unfollows you outright.

Bad automated direct message

When considering whether to automate any part of your brand’s social presence, ask yourself whether you’re adding value for your audience. If the answer is no, automation probably isn’t the best fit.

Best Practices for Twitter Direct Messages

Most of the best practices that apply to using Twitter Direct Messages ring true across public and private social channels:

  • Be human. Treat DMs as a conversation and reflect the same brand voice and tone you use publicly—even when dealing with a frustrated or angry customer.
  • Send timely responses. If you have a Twitter account, customers will assume they can use it to talk to your brand. If you ignore DMs or take hours—or even days—to respond, you are missing an opportunity to make your customers happier and increase brand loyalty.
  • Provide value. Your social media strategy should include both marketing tactics and a significant plan for social customer care. Make sure you are using DMs to effectively resolve issues, help customers and leave them with a positive impression of your brand.

As Twitter has expanded its offerings to help businesses practice social customer care, Direct Messages have continued to provide a way to build trust and relationships between brands and consumers. Don’t be afraid to address your customers on a more personal level. But at the same time, make sure you’re following the right DM etiquette before you start messaging away.

How does your business use DMs? Leave a comment and let us know!

This post Twitter Direct Message: To DM or Not to DM? originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Tales from the Trenches: How to Transition from Marketing Doer to Marketing Leader

I was roughly five years into my marketing career when I began managing my first direct report. It was the biggest challenge I faced yet. I was now being evaluated on the actions, successes, and failures of another person—and I also knew it was my responsibility to give them the support and tools they needed to have more successes than failures.

I felt as if I didn’t know how to influence, motivate, or persuade another person. But I was given the opportunity to try and to learn. I had a great group of bosses, mentors, and peers giving me advice, listening to my concerns or wins, and allowing me to make mistakes.

Quite a few years (and many direct reports) later, today I have a much better handle on how to manage a team. And as I’ve grown, I’ve learned that my job isn’t just to manage people, time, projects, or priorities, my job is to lead.

But it can be hard to make the transition from a “doer” to a leader. And the stakes are high. In fact, a recent study from TINYpulse found that nearly 50% of employees have quit a job because of a less than stellar manager. In addition, those who don’t feel recognized for their work are two-times as likely to be job hunting.

Whether you’re stepping into your first management role, moving onto middle management, or you have your eye on the CMO office, as a leader it’s your job to inspire, motivate, and grow a happy and high-functioning team. The insights below are designed to help guide you down a successful path to a fruitful career and happy, supported, and motivated employees. 

Tip #1: Understand the landscape

Whether you’re managing one team member or an entire department, you’ll be setting goals and playing an integral role in setting the marketing strategy your team is responsible for driving results with. But to do that, you must understand the broad and niche context in which your organization, department, or service line operates. This means getting to know your customers, prospects, and competitors more deeply, so you thoughtfully can guide and educate your team:

  • Seek out opportunities to hold monthly or quarterly one-on-one calls with your priority customers. Ask them what they value most about your organization or product, as well as where you can do better. 
  • Regularly research your competitors. Subscribe to emails, follow them on social media, and attend industry events where they might be speaking. This will give you unique intel that you can bring back to your team.
  • Get out of the marketing silo. Brainstorm with the sales team. Talk to your customer service team. These teams are intimately familiar with the challenges your customers and prospects face.

Tip #2: Set goals … and exceed them

Yes, you’ve probably be setting goals at all stages of your career. As an individual contributor, your goals were likely focused on what you could individually achieve. In a leadership role, you’re likely responsible for setting goals for your team that will ladder to corporate goals. If you are new to a leadership role, achieving goals that map directly to the success of the company, can be a quick win to build trust within leadership and grow your team and influence. 

  • Keep your goals top of mind. Discuss progress, roadblocks, and wins with your team, your boss, and other leaders. The more discussion around goals, the more likely you and your team are to remain focused and accountable on achieving them. 
  • Incentivize if you can. Big and small incentives can keep your team motivated to achieve their goals.
  • Make it a number. In my experience, setting and achieving a numerical goal has more impact on the organization and is generally more impressive than an accomplishment-based goal. For example, make the goal double MQLs, instead of rolling out a new marketing automation system. The marketing automation system is a stepping stone to reach the goal, not the actual goal. 
  • Set goals quarterly. Ninety days is long enough to achieve something big-ish, but short enough to keep you focused. We’ve found quarterly goals helps us track for the year and keep the team more motivated. 

[bctt tweet="The more discussion around goals, the more likely you and your team are to remain focused and accountable on achieving them. @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Tip #3: Focus on scalability

Once it’s time to step out of day-to-day execution and supervision and into leadership, you should focus more on optimizing and solving issues on a systematic basis, rather than local basis. When I was a new manager, I found myself constantly on the run putting out fires as they would pop up, instead of focusing on why it started and how to prevent it going forward.

  • Create make-sense processes. Identify the things your team does over and over again such as campaign launches, attending events, or adding new content to the website. These are replicable events that you can create process around and then optimize for efficiency, results, and so on.
  • Don’t feel like you have to stick to the status quo. Just because the marketing team has always had six copywriters, two content strategists, and an analyst, doesn’t mean that’s the ideal structure. Document the needs and functions of the organization and then map out the most make-sense roles to those needs. For the sake of the exercise, take the current situation out of it. You can employ a phased approach to get you from current situation to ideal. 

Tip #4: Shift the spotlight to your team

As you’re moving into leadership, you’re likely trying to build trust and show value to upper leadership, and it can be easy to lose focus on serving your team. Fostering a happy, well-functioning team is your top priority. Not only can you not do your job without them, but it is one of the best indicators of success to your boss and your boss’s boss. 

  • Shift how you find personal value from work. Most of us have moved into leadership, after being highly successful individual contributors and supervisors. As leaders, we must find more value from the task, result, or project we helped someone else achieve, rather than the work we did ourselves. 
  • Clear obstacles. Be transparent when you can; have your employees’ backs. These things build trust and create a secure, happy, and productive team. 
  • Cultivate the next round of leaders. Understand what your team wants to achieve personally within their careers within the next five or 10 years, and help them do that. As leaders, we should always be identifying and growing the team members who want to move to the next round in their careers. 

[bctt tweet="Most of us have moved into leadership, after being highly successful individual contributors and supervisors. As leaders, we must find more value from the task, result, or project we helped someone else achieve. @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Tip #5: Stay fresh on the job

At all levels of my career, I’ve found the best way to build trust with a team is to help them solve a problem. The more you understand your team’s job function, the more able you will be able to help them solve problems, innovate, and provide feedback to improve the function of their performance. 

  • Stay fresh. I find the best way to do this is to jump in and help execute from time to time. So, write a blog post or create the tactical plan. This keeps you from getting rusty, but also helps you empathize with your team and the challenges within their roles. 
  • Ask questions. Sometimes you won’t understand the details of what they’re working on, particularly if you’re leading a cross functional team. But ask questions. Help them look at the problem critically, and it’s likely you’ll guide them to their own answer. 

Tip #6: Be the leader

One of the toughest transitions from individual contributor to leader, is owning your role as the leader. For the first few years that I was managing a small team, I was more likely to be found deep in the weeds, doing the tasks I did in my previous job titles, than actually doing my work as a leader.

There were a couple reasons for this. It was comfortable doing the work; I already knew how to do it and I was good at. I also felt like I was most helpful to my team if I was helping them get the work done by actually doing the work. 

This was not true. See tip No. 3. You (and I) are most helpful to your team when you’re solving systematic problems, optimizing workflow and production, and creating a happy and secure work environment. If you’re always in the weeds, all you can see is the weeds. 

[bctt tweet="You're most helpful to your team when you’re solving systematic problems, optimizing workflow and production, and creating a happy and secure work environment. @Alexis5484 on being a #marketing leader" username="toprank"]

Tip #7: Keep learning

The leaders I am most inspired by inside and outside of my organization are probably the most voracious learners. Continuous learning through a variety of mediums will help you continue to evolve your skill set, bring in fresh ideas, and help you be inspired to test something new. Here are a couple of the resources that I go to:

  • Read: HBR is a go to for great content on how to lead, manage and shape a business. 
  • Listen: Dear HBR has a great Q&A format about navigating workplace challenges. 
  • Attend: Industry events are great for providing outside perspective, networking with other leaders and inspiring the evolution of your tactics. MarketingProfs is a great event for marketers.

Take Your Place at the Leadership Table

Each stage of your career offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The way in which you handle those situations—tackling them head-on or leaving them for someone else—has the potential to make or break your success in that position… and the one that may or may not come after. Keep these pieces of advice in mind as you work to build your team, your organization, and career as a leader.

Looking for more tips on how to inspire, motivate, and build a more effective marketing team? Check out our tips for getting your marketing team to work better together.

The post Tales from the Trenches: How to Transition from Marketing Doer to Marketing Leader appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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