Originally at http://www.business2community.com/twitter/5-ways-use-twitters-direct-messages-small-business-01467715

You know about Twitter. But what about its lesser-known Direct Messages feature — the self-professed “private side of Twitter”? Well it turns out you can win some serious brownie points with your audience when you use Direct Messages correctly.

Great social marketing is about feeding the conversation around your business. Yet it’s amazing how many businesses forget that conversation is a two-way thing. Sure, publishing your own content and watching the clickthroughs is lots of fun. But it’s important to listen too. A positive back-and-forth over the digital ether can leave a lasting impression on your audience: turning a prospect into a customer and a customer into a repeat purchaser.

Here are five ways to use Direct Messages to build bonds and break boundaries.

Personalised support

It’s the age of the Twitter complaint. If a customer is venting at you over Twitter, you want to make that interaction private as soon as possible to preserve your reputation. You know what they say. Never wash your dirty laundry in public.

Even if someone isn’t effing and jeffing and simply needs some support or has a few questions about your service, it’s best to make the conversation private. Most people don’t want their Twitter feed clogged up with one-to-one conversations between people they have never met.

You can start a private conversation with anyone who follows you.

Behold! Limitless group chat….

There are two super-cool things about Direct Messages. One: there’s no character-limit, liberating you from the shackles of 140 characters. Two: you can exchange messages with multiple people at once. Yep, Twitter does group chat. Some neat uses of group chat are to introduce people or to exchange thoughts and ideas following a networking event. You can probably think of a thousand other uses.

Again, you can start a group message with anyone who follows you.

Arrange your meetings

Sharing real-world plans …

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