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Posts Tagged ‘dm’

Six Ways Twitter’s Direct Message System Could Be Radically Improved

Twitter’s direct message (DM) system is, quite frankly, rubbish. An inbuilt messenger is a handy and convenient feature on any social network, but what we have on Twitter is so basic and limiting to be almost useless. Here are six ways in which it could easily be improved.

1. Direct Messages MUST Be Two-Way

As it stands, the direct message system on Twitter isn’t really fair – if I follow somebody this affords them the right to send me a direct message, which many do, certainly if they want to keep something private. However, unless they follow me back, I do not have the same luxury. I cannot reply to their DM. This is ridiculous for two reasons: one, it gives them an immediate advantage, and two, the only way for me to respond to their ‘private’ message is to make it public with an @reply.

I say: you should only be able to send a direct message to another user if you’re both following each other. Otherwise, you have to send a reply. This would encourage mutual following and cut down on unnecessary and one-way direct messaging. No mutual follow, no direct message. You’ll have to send me a reply instead.

2. Mass Marking/Deletion Of Direct Messages

Twitter needs to add a series of checkboxes next to each delete message so that you can quickly mark and delete any you want to remove and/or move somewhere else en masse (see ‘Folders’, below). There also needs to be a one-click ‘select/unselect all’ – as it is, I can remove all my direct messages using a service like DM Whacker, but that should be a basic feature on Twitter, surely?

3. Search

If you’re on Twitter long enough, pretty soon you’ll build up a lot of direct messages. Some of these will contain useful links and information – I stress the word some, as relatively it’s going to be very few. Right now, the only way to find that data is to scroll back through page after page of direct message, and hoping that CTRL+F and the right keyword will find what you want. A search feature built in to the DM system would make this a very simple process.

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"I Wanted To Send You A Direct Message, But You're Not Following Me…"

Sound familiar? I get approaches like this all the time. I’m sure you get your share, too. Indeed, it seems a fairly common occurrence on the network.

Sometimes, the sender will put a spin on this, and ask you to send them a direct message. Either way produces a follow from you to them, which in many cases is neither desirable nor necessary.

The catch is, direct messages on Twitter are only two-way if both parties are following each other. If I follow you, but you don’t follow me, then I can’t direct message you – but you can direct message me. It’s a bit of an alien system but it was established to prevent spam, bombing and abuse. Imagine if it was the other way around, and worked like email – you’d get gazillions of invasive DMs each and every day.

That said, like a lot of people, I’m not a big fan of the direct message (DM) system on Twitter – it’s clunky and limiting, and the administration of direct messages is an awkward process. Moreover, a lot of people on Twitter abuse the DM feature, and use it to send spam and other messages where they’re trying to pitch some useless product in your direction.

So what to do when you get a message like this?

First, don’t just automatically follow the person – remember, you’re under no obligation to follow anybody, and certainly shouldn’t feel you have to follow somebody just because they want to send something privately to you. As I keep saying, it’s very important to keep your network both relevant and optimised.

Moreover, because @replies on the Twitter network are open – you can @ people you aren’t following, and vice versa – communication and engagements can be (and often are) made between people who aren’t following each other at all. Certainly, a one-way follow is not the end of the world – I follow over 50 people who don’t follow me back. Why? Because I find them interesting.

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