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Is Direct Message the New InMail?

In Human Resources — by Erin Engstrom

direct message vs inmail
Earlier this month, the news that Twitter is planning to expand its tweet character limit from 140 to 10,000 rocked the web. This comes on the heels of the company’s elimination of its character limit entirely for direct messages, a change that was implemented last year. The adjustment didn’t garner the same sort of headlines, but it’s pretty big news nonetheless. The character limit was the one flaw preventing DMs from being a fully functioning form of communication between Twitter users. With that gone, Twitter’s finally catching up with the likes of Facebook, email and LinkedIn when it comes to connecting employers and candidates at length. By becoming a more powerful platform for direct communication, Twitter could very well be the new InMail.

Twitter as Recruiter

Removing the character limit from DMs is just one of many steps Twitter has taken on its way to becoming a robust recruitment channel. Earlier last year, the company announced that users could now opt in to receive DMs from anyone, even if they’re not following the other user. Between that and removing the character limit, Twitter’s messaging system is now arguably even more effective than Facebook’s, as there’s no “other” folder for messages to get lost in. Now, Twitter is as powerful a tool for private communication as it is for public speaking.

This means Twitter is a better social recruiting channel than it’s ever been. Recruiters can finally cold-call candidates they’re interested in directly on the service, instead of following a link to email them and crossing their fingers the candidate is engaged enough to respond. The DM service is free for anyone to use, and there’s no limit to the messages users can send. Recruiters can send out as many solicitations as they like to users who’ve opted to receive DMs (as any engaged job seeker should). Job seekers, in turn, can easily send a response DM to recruiters. This means no hopping between platforms, and perhaps eliminating the need for email entirely in some cases.

InMail’s Diminishing Relevance

Contrast the growing expansion of Twitter as a recruiting platform with that of LinkedIn, whose InMail platform could use a lot of improvements. This year, they rolled out a number of features that expands the platform as a way for users to privately message each other on InMail, doubling the number of InMails premium users can send from 50 to 100. This is a concession to employers’ growing demand to initiate better conversations with candidates on the network – the whole reason LinkedIn is around in the first place.

Even with 100 InMails available, LinkedIn is still creating a limit that doesn’t exist on Twitter. And unlike Twitter, you have to be a paying LinkedIn user for the privilege of sending these messages in the first place. LinkedIn makes its money through contacts between employers and candidates but employers don’t  have to put up with those restrictions – not when information wants to be free. If your product is limited, and you haven’t figured out how to monetize it so that your customers fee they’re getting their money’s worth, they’ll go somewhere else. Right now, it looks like that place is Twitter.

It Starts With a Single Step

I’m not delusional. I don’t think this is the year LinkedIn crashes while Twitter becomes the go-to recruiting network. After all, in 2014 Twitter’s use among recruiters was actually down – but that statistic of course predates the implementation of these sweeping changes to the platform. It’s still a little early to evaluate the new DM’s impact. But the fact that Twitter made this change in the first place is evidence that they’re aggressive about finding new avenues for growth – a commitment they’re doubling down on with the impending tweet character expansion.

While Twitter may not be a big threat now, there’s little doubt that DMs will take some of InMail’s mindshare with recruiters. If LinkedIn isn’t careful, this could be the first step in a long line reducing LinkedIn’s relevance in the market.

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