Twitter Is Tweaking Its Direct Message Features for Businesses

Users can now tell if agents read their DMs or bots are responding

More functionality for DMs between users and brands

Twitter announced several updates to its direct message features for businesses, which will better enable brands and developers to provide customer service via the social network.

The main benefit to Twitter users: When they are interacting with brands on the social network, they will be able to tell if their messages were read by customer-service agents or if a chat bot is in the process of responding, due to the introduction of read receipts and typing indicators.

On the brand side, welcome messages are now nameable and editable, which will help businesses find and use welcome messages when creating Direct Message Cards and keep those messages relevant as campaigns progress.

Twitter partner engineer Jonathan Cipriano said in a blog post that the social network’s DM features for businesses are being used for marketing purposes by brands including Samsung, MTV, TBS, Wendy’s and Patrón, and for customer service by companies including Tesco and Evernote.

Jen Forrest, director of social media at digital agency DEG, was excited about the updates, telling Adweek, “For brands that have an existing, strong presence on Twitter, this new functionality is going to be able to help them better engage with and understand followers and find unique value on the platform. Especially when it comes to customer care, it’s great that Twitter is leveraging automation for welcome messages to help create efficiencies for customer-service teams and community managers. Yet unless the brands understand how to leverage these new tools, it has the potential to be undervalued by both brands and users.”

For developers, in April, Twitter released its Account Activity API (application-programming interface) in beta, giving them access to real-time activities related to accounts they manage, including tweets, retweets, likes and follows.

Cipriano revealed this week that Twitter released an enterprise version of the Account Activity API, aimed at developers and brands that require access to data from a large number of accounts, along with multiple webhook URLs and reliability features such as retries or managed support.

Developers and brands using the standard version of the Account Activity API will have access to an additional beta that delivers data on all activities for up to 35 accounts, and starting Jan. 15, the API will also deliver data on typing indicators and read receipts for direct messages.

Cipriano said developers seeking beta access to the Account Activity API can apply here, and those who need data on more than 35 accounts should apply here for enterprise-level access.

Jason Valdina, director of product marketing at customer engagement platform Conversocial, told Adweek, “Twitter’s recent API changes demonstrate the social giant’s commitment to embracing the shift from public venting to private resolution, designing a platform suited for the modern social customer. Private messaging for customer care is immensely valuable: It limits instances of brand-tarnishing public comments while creating a more personalized and efficient experience for the consumer.”

Twitter also complied a “playbook” for developers that are starting out on its DM platform, and it is available here.