Why Twitter’s Direct Message API Update Matters For Brick-And-Mortars

The company aims to make it easier for users to interact with brands — and particularly local businesses — beyond DM conversations.

Twitter has updated its direct message APIs, allowing businesses to add buttons in direct messages — a feature aimed at making it easier for users to interact with brands outside of DM conversations, whether drafting a Tweet, following a businesses’ account, or opening another website within the Twitter app to get more information.

The company has also added two new features for developers, aimed at helping them “understand how a conversation started and which app created a message,” Twitter’s Jon Cipriano wrote in a blog post.

Essentially, the rollout aims to take the power of an engagement in direct message and extend it beyond that one conversation: It makes it easier for fans of a brand or local business to subsequently tweet their support, navigate to a mobile site (and perhaps make a purchase), or even ask for location info and find their way to a store. And on the developer side, it potentially creates a greater understanding of what led a customer to send a DM in the first place.

Additionally, Twitter acknowledges that plenty of larger businesses are engaging customers in messaging through a bot. This makes sense; after all, chatbot interaction is at an all-time high, with CoverGirl’s “Kalani Bot” even seeing 14x the engagement of the actual influencer the bot was modeled after.

“For many businesses, delivering a great customer experience through a bot in Direct Messages depends on helping people complete a task other than sending a message,” Twitter’s Ian Cairns wrote in blog post, explaining Twitter’s decision to add buttons to help businesses drive more actions. For example, “at the right point in the conversation, people might want to Tweet to share a coupon or offer, challenge their followers to a game, or tell the world about new content they just discovered. The… combination of public and private messaging on Twitter makes it easy for people to become brand advocates by Tweeting about an experience. And by combining this feature with the new Direct Message Card, those Tweets can then help other users discover and start talking to your bot.”

Making (DM) Moves

Twitter has made quite a few updates to its Direct Message recently: This API update comes on the heels of the company’s April announcement that it would open direct message location sharing for brick-and-mortars to customers.

As we wrote at that time, the update was critical for local businesses on Twitter — many of whom rely almost heavily on social media for low-cost marketing with a personal touch — because it allowed them to use the Direct Message feature to draw in customers with location data by telling them where the closest store is.

“Helping people find a location nearby makes perfect sense for brick-and-mortar businesses,” Cairns said at the time. “Now that businesses can easily incorporate location sharing into their customer experiences, expect to see other innovative location-aware use cases in Direct Messages.”

Now, with this latest update, businesses have the chance to more easily expand their social following — and give those engaged customers more online (and perhaps offline) experiences to choose from.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.