Now you can change a setting in your Twitter account to allow any of your followers to direct message ,or DM, you.

Twitter setting allows direct messages from all followers

A new twitter setting allows you enable all followers to send direct messages to you without having to follow them back.

In the past direct messages could only happen between two people that followed each other.   This has always been a bit of a bummer for businesses because it forced a business to choose between following every individual that follows them (regardless of the quality of content) and eliminating another avenue for communication.

Direct messages or DMs are private messages between two individuals whereas @replies appear publicly on a users timeline. The DM give businesses and brands a better way to connect one on one with consumers, and gives individuals a private way to reach out to a business or brand much like the “message” button on a Facebook business page.  This may well cut down on negative chatter for some brands as individuals opt to communicate privately when allowed to.  It also opens the door to allow greater opportunities for partnering via twitter.  As a small business I now have the opportunity to reach out to other businesses or media personalities to introduce myself or pitch an event, concept or news items privately.  Great!

On but alas there are two sides to every coin and one of the pitfalls of this new setting could be an onslaught of additional “junk” mail.  Enabling this feature allows anyone that follows you to send you private mail.Beggars can’t be choosers so spammers now only need to hit the follow button to have direct access to your Twitter mail.  I’ve yet to see any additional changes to the mail feature within Twitter. There’s still no easy way to select multiple mails to delete without going into them one by one and there’s no way to selectively block mail from an individual user.

On the consumer side it’s a different story. Personally I’m not sure I see the value of allowing everyone that follows you to send you private mail. Here, the onslaught of junk mail seems to outweigh the benefits.  I don’t need another inbox cluttered with spam, and there are too many situations where I can see myself accidentally clicking on a disastrous link in a direct message while on my mobile phone.

So for businesses on Twitter, I say go for it and hope for new (meaningful) communication with your audience.  It is, after all, only a check box!  If you find the spam to be too much for you, simply uncheck the box down the road to disable the feature again.  For consumers, tread with caution.

I just checked my box over at @aprilmerrillcmc. I’ll update this post if I cave!