As Facebook pushes to include more bots in its messaging feature, Twitter has shifted in the opposite direction.
The social media site is experimenting with allowing businesses to direct message customers using employee profiles on the main account. The new feature, announced Wednesday, aims to give people a clearer sense of when they’re talking to a human versus a bot.
With custom profiles, employees can respond to messages with their own name and photo on the business’ direct messaging platform. Companies can also use custom profiles to create a fictional character for messaging bots, in an effort to give them more personality.
Twitter’s first partner on the project is T-Mobile. The Bellevue, Wash.-based company has significantly invested in its Twitter brand over the past few years — CEO John Legere has more than 3.7 million followers — and much of its focus has been on giving the company a personal voice. T-Mobile’s main account often gets in petty Twitter fights with Verizon and most recently has been tweeting about pizza — a lot.
Twitter product manager Ian Cairns said T-Mobile’s willingness to experiment with personality on Twitter is why they partnered with the telecommunications company on the project. T-Mobile was one of the first companies to use customers’ names and agents’ initials when replying to tweets, and, last year they added links to agents’ bio pages.
Now, the company can carry that voice over to direct messages. When you message @TMobileHelp, an employee can respond from a profile showing their face and name. According to Twitter’s research, personalized interactions such as this make 77 percent of people more likely to recommend a brand.
At the moment, Twitter has only partnered with T-Mobile on the project, which still remains on a private beta, but companies who are interested in enabling custom profiles can contact the site for more information.