January 11, 2017

Pretty much every social media site out there now has some sort of capacity for direct message communication. Whether for individuals or groups of people, social media companies understand the need to take some communications outside the public space.

And for all the marketers who love social media, so many struggle with how to use direct message marketing effectively. Let's face it, Twitter and LinkedIn are probably the worst for spam-like content via DMs and other platforms can be just as bad at times.

No one wants to get the whole "thanks for following, go buy my book" or "thanks for following, you should follow me on X" or "thanks for the follow, what can I help you with?". These are all so blatantly generic, spamarific, and horrible to receive.

So, what works? How can you actually use direct message marketing in a way that doesn't drive your audience away?

Here are some of my best strategies for using DMs to actually connect with your audience.

None of these are specific to one platform or another - they're general concepts. Of course, you might need to tweak your strategy for different platforms but the general practice will remain the same.

You will also want to look at the privacy settings for your direct messages on each platform. Some only allow people you follow to message you or you can allow anyone to DM you. You'll want to open up your options on this as much as possible for each site. And that being said, some sites will "hold" messages from people you haven't communicated with before so you'll want to check your DMs regularly to see if you have pending messages to respond to.

Customer Service

I have heard countless stories, and I've used social media myself to resolve issues with companies directly. Sometimes, "traditional" communication just doesn't work, but social media is quick to drive results.

For example, I know someone who was traveling and their flight was cancelled just before takeoff. Everyone ran to the ticketing agents and desks, waiting in line to be set up on new flights. Some got on the phone and waited on hold with customer service. But this one savvy marketer hit up Twitter. And in just minutes had been rebooked and taken care of before almost anyone else on that flight.

Personally, I had a significant issue last year when my cable and internet went down - for almost 48 hours!! It was utter torture, btw 😉 After repeated attempts at calling customer service, trying their online service center, and more, I also hit up Twitter. Within hours, I had multiple people working my case and had the issue resolved much more quickly than had I waited for the call center response.


Because social media is public forum. Companies don't want complaints to go on endlessly in the public eye so they are more likely to respond quickly and with direct resolve, especially if your social media clout is of any significant value.

Both of these examples are BIG companies but the same strategy applies to companies of all sizes. If your customers are reaching out to you on social media, they want a response, and they want it quickly. This is your opportunity to take a negative situation and make it a positive one quickly.

When you receive a complaint or customer service issue via social media, make sure to respond directly to the original post and let them know you'll be sending them a DM, or ask them to send you one. This does two things: one, it notifies them of your response so they see it, and; two, it shows the rest of your audience that you responded so you don't look neglectful.

Then, use that DM communication to handle the issue quickly and efficiently. Listen to the customer, offer a real solution, and talk like a real human being. Stop the corporate jargon or pre-fabricated templates. The more human you are, the quicker you'll resolve the issue, and the better your customer will feel.

An added bonus, if you can logistically coordinate it, is to follow up on the direct message conversation after the issue has been resolved. Whether a few days or a week later, sending a follow up message to ensure everything is still working out properly will bode very well for your business and brand.


Who doesn't love a good "thank you"? If a brand reached out to you and personally thanked you, wouldn't you think that was pretty awesome? Of course you would! And so will your audience.

If you notice that someone has been liking or commenting on a lot of your content, send them a thank you via DM. If you notice that one of your followers is sharing positive comments about your brand or recommending you to others, send them a DM. If you notice one of your best followers is going through something or achieved a milestone, send them a DM to encourage them.

There are so many ways to reward your followers using direct messages. It could be a simple text based message of thanks or encouragement. You could offer a small discount on their next purchase or a free upgrade. You could offer to repost a photo they shared (you should always ask permission before reposting copyrighted content).

Finding positive ways to reward and thank your audience will pay off dividends. From brand awareness and loyalty to direct sales conversions, the value is potentially huge.

Exclusive Access

If you want to take the reward and exclusivity factors even higher in your business, collect certain followers for exclusive direct message communications. This may be something they sign up for as a membership program, or something they win in a contest, or something offered to VIP customers, or something else of your choosing.

But only these people, whose social media profiles you have on record, will receive these DMs.

It could be behind-the-scenes access, exclusive coupon codes, pre-launch access, first news, one-on-one support, or any other exclusive offering of your choice. It could be a regularly scheduled message (weekly, monthly, etc.) as part of your strategy, or it could be spontaneous and unexpected. It could be open to a limited number of people or as many as want to participate. The freedom is yours to share these added-value messages with your audience.

Offering this exclusivity allows you to reward your audience, build your brand loyalty even more, and drive those sales as you boost excitement behind your brand and offerings.

Lead Generation

Yes, you can actually use direct message marketing to develop new leads and potential clients. But you have to be smart about it. This is where we typically see the spam and auto-bot overwhelm that makes each of us cringe - and this is what you want to avoid!

Social listening is key to this tactic. It's not about sending a DM to every person out there. It's about finding the right people in the right place. Use search parameters, hashtags, geo-tags, and other details to find ideal target audiences on social media. Then narrow down these people to those who have a problem you can assist with or a situation worth discussing.

For example, if someone is looking for recommendations on a good restaurant, you can send them your favorite restaurant suggestion - no matter what your business is. If someone is looking for advice, send them a link to an article that might be helpful.

You'll notice these examples aren't pushing your product or service. It's just you being helpful to a potential customer and getting on their radar in a direct way. You can, of course, also look for ways to be more direct.

If someone complains about a poor experience at a competitive company, offer them a discount to try out your company instead. If someone is raving about a new product they got from a company that aligns with your brand, you could offer a free consultation or discount on your product or service to augment their purchase. For example, if you provide cleaning services and a potential customer just bought a new house, you could offer a free consultation or a free 2-room service for them to try your services.

You can see how these tactics are direct and personally targeted towards that individual. They aren't spammy, generic, or pushy. They're helpful, supportive, and individual. But it's a thin line to carefully find that balance where you don't become a pushy spammer begging for attention from each potential client. You need to assess your wording, your approach, and your offer to ensure you're providing value to the recipient.

When done effectively, you can capture these new leads and work towards converting them into paying customers and generating real revenue for your business.

Get Reviews

We all know the value of a good testimonial from a valuable customer. Hearing others speak about a product or business is much more valuable that hearing that business speak about themselves.

That being said, it can be really hard to track down testimonials from people. But, direct messages can make it a lot easier!

If someone posts about your product in a positive way, DM them and ask if you can use their testimonial from their post - that's the most authentic and real statement right there.

Or, send them a DM asking them if they'd be willing to write a testimonial that you will feature on your website. This is especially rewarding if the person is a business owner or you can give their business a shout out (link to their site) via the testimonial on your site. Show them the added value in sending you a testimonial!


So, those are my best tips for using direct message marketing. I know the list isn't exhaustive, and if you have any beneficial tactics for using DMs, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Jenn – i agree but the problem is that DM’s (Twitter anyhow) have become so spammy that most people i know, me included, dont even monitor them. The only time i read a DM if is someone tweets they are sending me one! Almost defeats the purpose of DM’s!
    The has to be a solution, but i not sure what it is – perhaps a spam filter for DM’s?!

    1. Chris, I completely agree (and I’m in the same boat) with rarely checking my DMs. It would be great if there was some way to better regulate the content that comes through. That being said, yes, they can still be valuable… if people read them 😉

Comments are closed.

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