I am one of Twitter’s biggest fans. I signed up for the social media platform in 2009 after a friend told me to check it out. At the time, I didn’t really think it was anything special. But who knew it would turn out to be one of the best tools for social media today?
One of the most interesting features of Twitter is the “Direct Messaging” feature. At first, Twitter users had to follow each other before they could send private messages for one-on-one conversations. Soon enough, Twitter gave users the option to have open “DMs” where users could choose to have anyone direct message them by simply changing the option in their settings.
After having DM conversations over Twitter and sometimes even to the point of directing someone to a location because I didn’t have their phone number, I think Twitter is sitting on its own special messaging app without realizing it.
Other social media apps like Instagram have their own Direct Messaging options and I’ve actually been using Snapchat for quick chats with my contacts.
Down In The DMs
Direct messaging has sort of become a place where people communicate when they’re trying to talk to a girl/guy. The term “Down In The DMs” has become a phrase which means communicating with the opposite sex to flirt or hookup. But honestly, Twitter DMs are a great place for private communication on a public platform like Twitter.
For example, I needed to communicate with a company about some information I needed. Firstly, that company is a foreign one. So I can’t pick up the phone and try to call them locally and sending an email to their “info” email address could take a long time for a reply. Since they were very active on Twitter, I just sent them a DM, telling them who I was and what I wanted to talk about. Within 3 hours, I got a response with the information I needed.
Some companies also effectively use Direct Messaging for customer support. I’ve used DMs to contact companies about problems with their product and I’ve gotten them resolved through Twitter. No phone calls. No emails. Just tweets. In a way, I actually prefer the chat feature to calling up a customer care line or even worse, submitting a ticket even though that’s the standard.
Another Messaging App?!
Yeah, I know. We’re constantly bombarded with messaging apps. There are now a plethora of messaging apps including WhatsApp, Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram and Telegram which offer their own form of messaging and features.
But Twitter feels different and dare I say, special. I have communicated with people from San Francisco to Melbourne Australia and even South Africa and I haven’t even set foot in those countries before. On most other apps like WhatsApp, I would need their phone numbers before I could communicate with them. Snapchat chats don’t feel special given the fact that your chats can basically “disappear”. Twitter just feels better in my opinion. On Twitter, you could just have a similar interest and follow each other. I have cultivated online relationships just because I have interests in music as well as technology.
If I could only chat with those people more often through a dedicated Twitter messaging app.
Twitter Messaging App Design
If Twitter were to make its own messaging app, there are a few things it could borrow from the existing players.
If a Twitter user is online, the DM app could show someone is online. Twitter DMs now show you if someone has received your message with the famous “double check”. On Instagram, it’s displayed as an “eye” icon which means it has been seen.
It could easily work. But the thing is, we may never see that app come to fruition.
For now, my dreams of a Twitter DM app seems more like a pipe dream than a reality. Twitter stands to gain more if users interact with each other in the public sphere than in small chat rooms with each other.
But still, having a DM app would make things more unique and perhaps even allow users to feel like Twitter is more personal than just writing 140 characters into a compose box and see if you get feedback from your tweet.
For now, it looks like we’re stuck with the good old-fashioned DMs.
If you want to DM me or tweet at me, find me on Twitter @jakuuire.