One of chatbots’ main challenges is kick-starting a conversation. So Twitter is introducing its own kind of ice-breaker.
Twitter is rolling out Direct Message Cards that attach a menu of buttons to a Promoted Tweet that people can select to start a DM thread on a particular topic with the advertiser’s bot or the humans that may manage the brand’s private messages.
Twitter’s Direct Message Cards are limited to advertisers, though they can be used in organic tweets, as well as Promoted Tweets. Twitter has been testing the Direct Message Cards with brands like Patrón Tequila. Marketers that want to try out the cards will have to ask a Twitter’s sales rep for access.
Twitter’s Direct Message Cards are supposed to push a private conversation past the awkward small-talk stage. In that way, they are similar to Twitter’s welcome messages and Facebook Messenger’s referral codes, both of which tailor a brand’s opening message based on the link a person clicked to open the conversation (or, in Messenger’s case, alternatively the QR-like code they scanned). The main difference with Direct Message Cards is that people can pick from multiple conversation-starters; advertisers can include up to four options in a single card.
For example, Patrón Tequila’s card shows a menu of different contexts in which someone might want a cocktail. People can pick one, and the brand’s bot will ask them some questions about the occasion and recommend a drink for them to try.
How Twitter’s Direct Message Cards work is pretty simple and not unlike “dial 1 for…” when calling Moviefone. After people select an option from the card’s menu, a kind-of code word gets passed to the brand’s account that effectively says, “Hey, this person wants to talk about X.” Then the brand’s bot responds with whatever preformatted reply it has for X, or the message gets passed to an employee dedicated to that topic. From there, either the bot or brand representative will follow a topic-specific flow.