Feature Friday: Twitter DM

I was with a friend this week and was DM’ing with someone on my phone.

He said “do you DM on Twitter frequently?” I said “yes, I use it all the time.”

Twitter DM is like any other messenger, particularly on the phone. It has the advantage of not needing to know the person’s phone number or handle on a messenger service. If you follow them and they follow you, you can DM them and chat like any other messenger.

It has the advantage of not needing to know the person’s phone number or handle on a messenger service. 

I like it a lot for that one feature – not needing to know the person’s contact info beyond their Twitter handle.

If you use Twitter a lot but don’t use DM, you should give it a try.

It’s super useful in a pinch when you need to reach someone and don’t know how.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    There was a time I thought twitter handle would become the default namespace. More memorable than a phone number, more branded, more versatile. Had the powers that be not gutted the developer community it could have happened.”Issue’ I’ve with DMs now is they feel a little overkill and startling. Instant mobile notification, email notifications on phone and all computers, instant app notifications etc. Not conducive to a calm ongoing conversation. But they could be made to be. Very easily.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I’d love a shot at helm of Twitter. I think I could bring the developer community back on. I don’t understand why important decisions for design aren’t getting through the board or even to the board.

      1. LIAD

        I’ve daydreamed about that position too. More than once.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I’m waiting for @falicon:disqus to jump in and say “Me too!”

          1. falicon

            I’ve never wanted to work for Twitter (not wanting to work there actually played at least a small part in killing one acquisition option in the past)…but still love the product (and completely agree with @liad:disqus and the dev. stuff that seriously hurt the path they had SUCH a lead on).

          1. Matt A. Myers

            It’s actually a positive in my mind the stock value is lower. I have my own plans roadmapped into plans that could easily integrate with Twitter and strengthen their ecosystem, in reality the benefit would be completely reciprocal; connect the platforms I have plans to develop with Twitter as a test, and then open up to 3rd parties once testing is done. Twitter needs to incentivize developers and companies better to integrate. I have no fucking idea how to get an audience with @fredwilson:disqus and other Twitter parties to see if my plan would fly with them. I’m totally game for making a trip to NYC and/or SF to present. Why not.

          2. Twain Twain

            I’ve bumped into Dick Costolo and Leslie Miley randomly in SF. I’ve been at Women in Data Science & AI meet ups where female engineers work at Twitter.Maybe 18 months ago, it would have been interesting to help fix Twitter’s problems but the market and developer communities have moved on.

          3. Matt A. Myers

            Bigger challenge. Just need to get people excited again. Hard but not impossible.

      2. JimHirshfield

        Boards don’t usually review design, do they?

        1. jason wright

          The wallpaper.

          1. JimHirshfield


          2. jason wright

            Flower arrangement?

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Ridiculous if they don’t, in my opinion. Design is everything.

          1. LE

            Agree. You can’t guide what you don’t have a seat of the pants feel for. Now of course if you are going after low hanging fruit or have a rising tide (double cliches here) then it’s like the third child that practically raises itself. (3rd cliche).

        3. Twain Twain

          Twitter CEO is all about design … So design is definitely getting through to the board since he sits there too.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Well then yes, the board doesn’t need to understand design as much.

  2. William Mougayar

    … until the person doesn’t respond or responds 4 days later saying “Oh, but I don’t use Twitter DM…”It’s super useful in some cases, but it’s too bad that Twitter has done the minimum to keep up with the other IM Joneses.I use Twitter DM with some people, just as I use WhatsApp with some other people, or Skype, or Signal, or Kik, or Hangout, or FB Messenger. In total, that’s 7 IMs. Update: And LinkedIn which I rarely use, plus Text. That’s a total of 8 channels. Way too many.

    1. awaldstein

      dunnoeveryone can get to you if they care to obviously and if I don’t know someone i’m best to hear from them through email.for contacts that I know text and what’s app are it.FB Messenger though standalone cause the population of connections there is massive.it i had no others the world would not change for me.

    2. Guy Gamzu

      email. open, universal, simple

      1. William Mougayar

        Instant real time convos are useful too.

        1. JimHirshfield

          I actually had a face to face conversation with someone the other day. Refreshing.

          1. William Mougayar

            They poured water on your face?

          2. Twain Twain

            Lol, good one!

          3. Vasudev Ram

            I bet he gave a witty comeback to the pourer, too. Struggling to think of one …. dam(p) you?

          4. JimHirshfield


          5. Matt A. Myers

            Come to Toronto – I’d love to chat with you!We should do an AVC Toronto meetup eh?

          6. JimHirshfield


          7. Twain Twain

            There is that little extra special something about face2face meetings.

          8. Girish Mehta

            Face up to it. Its simply a more multifaceted conversation in person.

          9. Drew Meyers

            Refreshing indeed. We’re losing our way, with everyone being sucked farther and farther into screen addiction.

          10. JimHirshfield


      2. Dave Pinsen

        Twitter DMs are a good way to reach people who get inundated with email, provided you have a brief point or question to get across. I DMed Fred a question about something recently and heard back quickly. Doubt I would have gotten as quick a response via email.

        1. Guy Gamzu

          Hey @Dave, if it boils down to probabilities of getting a reply – email wins.Re Fred – he is simply very responsive. On email too.

    3. Twain Twain

      Twitter is too busy fighting other fires to keep up with IM Joneses.(1.) Key management have left and replacements not yet appointed, including CTO. They’re recruiting for Product Managers in AI & Data Science which is vital for (3.) and that’s not an easy fix at all.(2.) NFL streaming rights went to Amazon:http://fortune.com/2017/04/…(3.) The “fake news” bot problems:http://www.motherjones.com/https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    4. creative group

      William Mougayar:way way too many! What happened to the yahoo chat days when that was the only sheriff in town. Those days are gone.We just don’t care to use anything besides three email accounts (Business, Personal, Throw away for accounts we just don’t trust) and phone. Don’t know how you all keep up with them all .

    5. daryn

      I don’t get people who say that. I guess if you’ve disabled notifications everywhere that might be an issue, but otherwise, it’s pretty visible.But, I have one friend who likes to DM in instagram of all places, and I often ping folks in swarm, because that’s where I notice them and want to say something. So, to each their own 🙂

      1. daryn

        I also have a mental model around invasiveness/priority of different platforms. For private 1:1 communication it is: email, twitter/fb/swarm/instagram, txt, call. So, if any of your phones ever ring from me, it’s important!

  3. Michael B. Aronson

    Its my preferred mode of communication with journalists, who tend to maintain an active twitter presence. Easy to tie the comments to what they are tweeting about without it being a public conversation.

  4. Matt A. Myers

    There’s some extra padding in this post that could be trimmed.. e.g. duplicated paragraph 🙂

  5. JimHirshfield

    Soooo many messengers. And Facebook forces you to install their mobile app to get messages. Sneaky, but not needed.

  6. pointsnfigures

    got to follow each other though for it to work. I did a phone call yesterday on Facebook Messenger. Going to be interesting to see what the big Telco’s do. T-Mobile was a big buyer of spectrum yesterday at the govt auction.And, when you DM be sure you are DM’ing. Carlos Danger never figured that out!

    1. LE

      Carlos DangerAnd there have been a few cases of that. Very easy to make that mistake and the consequences could be quite bad.

  7. jason wright

    Nice try, as Twitter has stalled.

  8. Twain Twain

    WhatsApp and Skype are my go-to IM for family+friends and after hearing Jan Koum speak at Startup Grind 2017, I totally understand why FB paid $19 billion.Twitter is where I highlight to AI and investor VIPs all the “need for huge improvements” in Natural Language Understanding, de-biasing the data that goes into training the AI and investing in female engineers and founders to give them more of a chance to innovate; especially since the echo chambers of all-male AI teams have led to widely-used tools such as Google Word2Vec being sexist and racist:https://www.inverse.com/art

  9. PrettyFlyForAWiseGuy

    I guess grammarly can’t pick up repeating the same thing twice :(“It has the advantage of not needing to know the person’s phone number or handle on a messenger service. If you follow them and they follow you, you can DM them and chat like any other messenger.”

  10. Mark Moran

    I do find that sometimes it’s the best, or even only, way to reach someone. It is exceptionally useful for customer service. The airlines provide their best customer service through Twitter DMs, and it was the only way I could get VZW to reverse an incorrect $2k charge five months after it acknowledged the error. But Twitter does need to find a way to end the auto DMs, as well as the mass spam whenever an account is compromised.

    1. Martin Weigert

      Fully agree. Both about airline customer service and Twitter’s excellence as customer service tool. In fact, I am thinking about whether Twitter should just focus on that part and throw the rest out of the window http://meshedsociety.com/a-

  11. LE

    It’s super useful in a pinch when you need to reach someone and don’t know how.This is a use case that literally only applies ‘need to reach someone you don’t know’ to people who are well known and have vast number of followers such as yourself. For 98% of other twitter users it isn’t relevant because they don’t have a mass of followers and probably have no need to reach out on any type of regular basis to their current (small group) of followers. So the problem is that it doesn’t even happen enough to be habit forming so that you will remember it’s there (for the nominal times you would use it).Unless something is used enough to be a habit it’s ‘out of site out of mind’ generally.One thing to consider is this. How many of the 1,149 people that follow you DM you? I agree it’s an easier way for a certain class of people in a certain type of situation to get a message.It’s also good for you because it allows you to communicate with any one of your 609k followers w/o revealing more personal contact info. So it keeps up a wall which is necessary because of the amount of people that you interact with. What if you got 700 dm’s a day? How would that work?Now the question is how can twitter be modified to allow more interaction between parties that don’t follow each other but would like to message a short message without requiring a reply?Let’s say someone wants to contact you that you don’t follow. And let’s further say you don’t want the obligation to do anything more than say ‘thanks got it’ to them (so there is no further obligation on your part). That would be the feature that I always wanted with email. Not having to hit ‘reply’ and type a reply just be able to click and say ‘got it’ or ‘thanks’. Kind of like doing ‘k’ on text messages or ‘tks’. Maybe it could even happen automatically after X hours if you didn’t reply uniquely yourself. “Answer all DM’s with ‘got it’ if I don’t do so within X hours or X days..’. “Remind me of people that I didn’t reply to that I usually reply to”.

    1. awaldstein

      I am neither well known nor important and when it is used, maybe 5-10 times a month is very useful.

      1. LE

        Would be curious about the particular cases for that ‘5 to 10 times a month’ usage and why it’s the preferred method of interaction. For some of the work that I do and for documentation purposes (as well as security) it’s kind of a non starter.

        1. awaldstein

          Most every network with the exception of Disqus has a back channel of communications where the real work, questions take place from your communities.That’s where conversation happens.If you work these public networks for work or for community interests then you know the answer. If you don’t then it is simply a matter of whether public facing communities are part of your life.

  12. Gregory Magarshak

    “If you follow them and they follow you”This is the key. What would you do if you want to reach someone and they don’t follow you on twitter?Imagine a world where identities are simply provable claims (“A on domain B is X on domain Y”). Each identity can have a private/public key pair and you just publish some signed statement in your Twitter / Facebook profile.I like the idea of having one place (like keybase by the okcupid guys) where you store a bunch of identities. Some are public, and some are private and only your friends see them. But when they arrive at a new domain, they instantly get a social experience because of all their friends who already visited it and allowed them to see their identity there. You could have an actually social web browser (unlike the old Flock browser).

  13. Salt Shaker

    When the mkt fundamentally redefines you as “Sputter,” that’s not a good thing (whether deserved or not is irrelevant.)Anthony Noto as CFO and COO (say wha?) received $23.8M in compensation in ’16. Keep up the good work, Anthony.So, so want TWTR to succeed. Was a firm believer and optimist until my wallet said enough and I bailed.Jack’s got to go. It’s like the Knicks, The Triangle and Phil. Who wants to play for those guys? No growth strat and both mired in quicksand.

  14. Richard

    Twitter’s true value is in the long tails of the content distribution curve and what did it do? It focused on discovery on the middle of the curve. #shortsighted #dump

  15. LE

    On the UI it should say “private message” and be a different color and maybe size as well.For both the user’s page as well as the actual screen that a ‘message’ is sent on. And yes things like this are important to both prevent user errors and get better adoption of the feature.. … https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c

  16. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:has Twitter overcome the following since our viewing the financials?1. It panders to our short attention spans.2. Anyone can do it.3. 140 chr limit makes us all spk like teenagers. FFS.4. It quickly becomes an unmanagable flood.5. It’s another bloody thing to keep up-to-date.6. Presentation. The site looks like your dad built it, in between putting up shelves and the rugby.7. The number of companies that suddenly start following you after you mention their products. (parsingphase)7. Reliability. It’s up and down like Amy Winehouse.8. Media bandwagon. Sky bloody News has now got a Twitter Correspondent. Hell’s teeth.9. Fake celeb profiles. Yawn.10. It’s not (yet) sustainable. Trillions of users, no clear way to make money from them.11. It’s hard to maintain a professional image.12. It’s horribly addictive.13. Conversations are desperately difficult to follow.14. Spambots.15. We can’t ignore it. Like a sullen puppy, it craves attention.16. We know what our readers really think of us thanks to TweetDeck search.17. Someone beat us to pcpro. Grrr.18. We’re still not sure what the point of it really is.19. Jargon. RT. Hashtags. Just what the world needed. More things that need explaining.20. “New Media” consultants are being paid thousands of dollars per hour to bandy about terms like Twitterverse to gormless corporate morons who are desperate to go Web 2.0. Someone pass the shovel.One of the best and cool things about Twitter is its two founders:Jack Dorsey & Biz (Yeah right) Christopher Isaac Stone.(source: random and meaningless site that critiqued Twitter)http://www.alphr.com/blogs/…

  17. awaldstein

    Agree Fred.Always found it curious that of all the networks, Disqus, is the only one that I use with no backchannel communications channel.On FB, Twitter, Instagram–backchannel text/chat is where the work and connections get done.

  18. Pete Griffiths

    The fact that it works doesn’t make it a competitive app in the space.

  19. BillMcNeely

    I have a couple folks that are in the Dallas startup community that I communicate mostly through DMs. It’s a bit less intrusive for us

  20. LE

    Sorry I know it’s not ‘bash twitter’ day but things like this are at least one of the reasons twitter has little utility for many people.In particular, ‘REPLYING TO WHAT.’ What is the issue they are discussing? Why does this appear in my feed? Is this an easter egg hunt? Where do I click? How do I find out?STOP MAKING ME THINK (and yes I am yelling…)… https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  21. sigmaalgebra

    Fred, your post is a lead into potentially a LOT of additional revenue for Twitter:Why? I’ve recently become a Twitter user. So far I have yet to see any reasonably well written documentation for how to use Twitter, what it does, how it works, what it’s good for, how to use it, etc. E.g., I went some months before I understood the difference between @ and #, which I still don’t understand well.. And I still don’t really understand who gets, sees a post to a token starting with @. And just this week I tried to understand direct messaging (DM), struggled to find decent documentation, never did, and can’t give myself a grade of more than C- for what I learned.I get some utility from Twitter, but to me likely at least 70% of Twitter is an undocumented black hole I don’t understand.Really, I found that just writing abut Twitter by people other than the Twitter staff and not on the Twitter Web site is, especially via a Google search, a better source of information but still not very good.Net, the Twitter programmers wrote their code but just have their feet solidly locked in reinforced concrete absolutely, positively refusing to document or explain their work.So, lots of people have at best poor understanding of how Twitter works, and your post about DM is a strong symptom.I tried DM a little: I clicked, clicked, clicked, read all I could find on the Twitter Web site, tried, tried, and tried, achieved next to nothing, and gave up.E.g., Twitter has icons — I can’t find documentation for them, look them up in a dictionary, spell them, pronounce them, put them in documents, etc. and, thus, mostly don’t know what the heck they are for. E.g., at the Twitter Web site, I see two Web pages particular to me, and I don’t know the function of one of them or, really, what the differences are. My Twitter usage goes on this way: There is a Twitter icon that looks like a bolt of lightening — that is for what, sending a Tweet to Zeus?Twitter’s UI/UX, documentation, and user understanding of the features all just suck, badly.

  22. Martin Weigert

    “If you use Twitter a lot but don’t use DM, you should give it a try.”Actually, the reverse is true too: I have stopped using Twitter’s core features last November (no more tweeting, no more checking my timeline), but what keeps me a fairly active user is the DM component.

  23. dkural

    I’ve used it precisely in those use cases, yet it only happened a handful of times so far. Your post made me think why not more? Here’s my analysis:It’s very rare for us to be on frequent DMing basis with someone, yet not have their phone or other channels of communicating. It’s like quantum mechanics: We seem to be on a texting basis & phone #s are ok, or we jump to the next lower energy state – we don’t text much and don’t have phones.Almost all occasions I’ve used it were conferences, where tweeting was a way of sharing information about talks or to coordinate where to meet for lunch, dinner etc. We’d be ‘following’ each other already due to being in the tweeting subset of a professional community. So the mutual-follow criteria is met. Then we’d finally have the need to text for practical reasons due being in the same physical space.