Twitter Is Introducing a Direct Message Button for Brands to Engage With Users

Update makes branded chatbots better for customer service and sales

Twitter is developing more uses for branded bots within Direct Messaging.

Twitter is giving brands another way to help users connect with chatbots and other services as part of its continued efforts to be the go-to platform for customer service and sales.

The company is debuting a button that could make it easier to get users to engage with brands outside of private direct messages. The feature, which rolls out today, can be used to prompt users to write tweets, follow accounts or open websites.

“For many businesses, delivering a great customer experience through a bot in Direct Messages depends on helping people complete a task other than sending a message,” wrote Ian Cairns, a product manager at Twitter, in a blog post.

The update lets brands on the platform compete more directly with the likes of Facebook Messenger and Kik, which over the past year have put more emphasis on building brand engagement and customer service via chatbots.

According to Twitter, brands will be allowed to add as many as three customizable buttons to any message, which can be used to direct people to other features within Twitter or to issue calls to action. As an example, Cairns cited Focus Features, which used a bot to showcase movie trailers, buy tickets or connect to representatives. For the movie The Beguiled, Focus Features built a trivia game bot that let participants share their scores with friends.

In another example, Cairns described how STXfilms created a character-driven chatbot for the sci-fi film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The bot lets users interact with characters from the movie via chatting or “training” based on the plot. The interactions lead to the unlocking of exclusive content that’s then shareable via tweets.

“Movies are discovered on Twitter in real time,” said Ramzy Zeidan, vp of digital marketing at STXfilms, according to Twitter’s blog post. “People watch the trailer, tweet their thoughts, read the reactions of others and engage with the movie, cast and crew directly. … The new ability to get people to share the experience with their followers allows for more engagement, excitement and conversation about Valerian.”

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