What is a Direct Message?

The direct message in twitter is a message between you and another person.  It is a private message between you and that person.  However, you need to be following someone in order for that person to send a direct message to you and they need to be following you in order for you to send them a direct message.

If you’re new to twitter and you’re using the main twitter.com site to interact with the people you follow as well as your followers interacting with you, then you can send direct messages using the following sytax:

D <username> <message>

and here’s a real message:

Direct MessageThe moment you type the letter D followed by a space in the status update box, the message “What are you doing?” disappears and the words Direct message is displayed above your message.  So twitter senses immediately what you’re trying to do – send a direct message.

The next bit of information you provide for a direct message is the username you’re sending it to.  If you type in someone’s twitter username, it will display after the words Direct message, as seen above.

What Happens Next?

Now, the moment you click on the send button, twitter checks to see if that person exists, if they do, twitter checks to see if they follow you, if they are following you, then the direct message is sent and everything is good.

If the username doesn’t exist, twitter will display a meesage that the user doesn’t exitst.  If the user exists and is not following you, twitter will display a message at the top of your browser that you can send the person a ‘follow username’ message and see if they follow you back.  If they end up following you back, then you can send them direct messages.

Clear as mud?  Good.

Again, if you’re new to twitter, this will be helpful to know but if you’re an old-twitter-timer, then you’ll understand.  However, you could be someone who’s been using twitter for quite sometime through a third-party app and never know how the direct message really works on the main twitter.com site.

Sifting Through All Those Messages

If you’re on facebook, direct messages between two people are like private email messages that are listed in a response/reply list.  This is nice because you can read through the history of your conversation and refer back and forth to what’s been said.  But with twitter, you have a list of all your direct messages in one list from everyone who sends you direct message.  At least on the main twitter.com/#inbox page.

If you find yourself using the main twitter.com page to send and receive direct messages with others, you can use the Direct Message menu selection on the right sidebar.  This will put you on the direct message page where you can view your inbox and sent list of messages between you and the folks you’ve been sending and receiving direct message to and from.

Instead of a flowing stream of messages just between you and one other person, you’ll have to alter between the Inbox and Sent list to see what they’ve sent you and what you’ve sent them under the sent tab.  This is tolerable, unless you send and receive huge amounts of direct message and never read them.  Then it can become overwhelming.

Before I conclude this post, take a look at the drop-down box on the message page.

Send a Direct MessageIf you’ve never sent a direct message from here to one of your followers, then they will not be in the drop-down list of followers.  Once you’ve sent them one direct message from this page, then that username will show up in the list.

You’ll also receive email messages of your direct message if you have the Email when I receive a new direct message checkbox checked, under the Settings page and Notices tab as seen below.

Twitter Settings Notices

There you go.  Everything you need to know about the twitter direct message.

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juhalassila (Juha Lassila ???) July 15, 2009 at 10:12 pm

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TwiTip: What is a Direct Message? [link to post]

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