Twitter, in its never-ending quest to deliver features users never asked for, is announcing a new style of advertisement that businesses can use to easily reach you in your Direct Message inbox. The company is calling the feature a Direct Message Card, which is a specially designed ad that prompts a user to click on an automated reply. From there, a one-on-one conversation is spun up in the Direct Messages tab.
“This new card will help businesses drive discovery of such experiences both through promoted tweets and organic sharing,” Twitter said in a statement. “Using a Direct Message Card, businesses can capture people's attention with engaging image or video creatives, and include up to four fully customizable call-to-action buttons.” These call-to-action buttons can be direct responses to a question being asked in a promoted tweet. For instance, tequila brand Patrón is using the cards to poll users on beverage choice, with four different options pertaining to the seasons. Tapping one will open the Direct Message conversation with an automated bot that suggests cocktails based on your preferences.
It seems clear that Twitter imagines this as a way to do automated marketing via bots. But there is also the opportunity for companies to do genuine customer support using real human beings on the other end. That’s more viable now that Twitter lets brands employ dedicated personalized accounts that can respond from a single handle, so you can see a support representative’s name, title, and a link to their web bio.
Again, this is pretty blatantly in service of brand thirstiness and not necessarily a feature users are clamoring for, like editing tweets or more actionable harassment reporting mechanisms. It does, however, get more companies to use Twitter’s ads program and to make use of its new Direct Message features. Given that Facebook has gone to great lengths to position its Messenger platform and WhatsApp subsidiary as ways to better interact with businesses, it makes sense that Twitter feels the need to continue developing out its own competing version of online customer support and outreach.