It’s always been a little tricky. After publicly reaching out to a company on Twitter, I’d often receive a request to follow the user so a rep could continue the conversation behind-the-scenes. Now, Twitter is allowing users to receive direct messages from people they don’t follow.
The company announced the update on Monday. Businesses and websites that rely on Twitter for customer support are now able to address issues privately with no additional action on behalf of the user.
Like any change, though, it will take time for Twitter users to understand. That means educating your customers, because the bulk of them aren’t reading Twitter’s updates. Twitter provides detailed instructions on how to change one’s settings to allow for Direct Messages from anyone. It’s listed near the bottom of the page, and includes no screenshots. Instead, you may want to create a quick how-to on your company’s website and direct users there. For example, “Hi, @username! Thanks for reaching out. Please follow instructions here so we can direct message you.”
Don’t push, though. If a user doesn’t want to receive DMs from everyone, he shouldn’t have to. So be sure to keep other practices in place and not try to force customers to adhere to new policies.