Sending Direct (Private) Messages on Twitter

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Sending Direct (Private) Messages on Twitter

To send a private message that no one else can see but the intended recipient, start the tweet with the letter D (short for Direct message), then a space, then the user’s name, like this:

D BrentO I’ve got a burning rash that won’t go away. What should I do?

Private direct messages won’t show up on anyone’s Twitter home page or public feed.  They’ll only show up in the recipient’s Direct Messages list – and only if they follow you.  You can’t send direct messages to people who aren’t following you.

It’s considered impolite to publicly ask someone to follow you just so you can direct message them.  Keep in mind that the other person may have hundreds or thousands of followers, and they may not want to add more followers to clutter up their home page.  Instead, check out their Twitter profile, like http://twitter.com/Brento.  They may have their email listed on that page, but if not, click on their URL.  Mine goes to my blog, and I’ve got a “Contact Me” page on my blog.

Plus, before privately asking someone a question, stop to think about whether it’s really a private matter.  Twitter is all about public conversation.  Is the recipient really the only person on the entire planet who can answer your question?  Or instead, could you ask it to the public and include their names, like this:

“What’s the best laptop to buy right now? @Brento @DellServerGeek @DSilverman”

That way, the public can see your message, plus several other users will get notified that their name was mentioned in a tweet.  If they’ve got the time and knowledge to answer it directly, they can, or they may also repeat your question so that others can answer it.

If you absolutely must contact someone privately and they’re not following you, be as polite as possible in your request, and try to include lots of information in your tweet.  Guess which one of these is more likely to get the desired result:

  • @BrentO hey buddy can you follow me so I can DM you?
  • @BrentO I’ve got a private question about advertising on your blog. How should I contact you?  Thanks!

To learn more about private messages and RTs, check out my free Twitter book.

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