Depending on your point of view, Twitter’s Direct Messages are either a useful way to communicate with potential clients, friends, family members and business leads in private, or a pointless function that is overrun with spammers who bombard every new follower with a generic piece of self-promotion that gets no response other than a shrug of the shoulders and is promptly deleted.

In some cases, businesses and individuals alike have started writing “Do not reply to DMs” in their Twitter Bios, indicating that the reputation of the direct message as a useful tool is not a good one. But now it seems that Twitter are making changes to the DM feature that could make a big difference to the way that people communicate via the social networking giant.

The company revealed via their developer forum on Thursday June 11 that from July (exact date not specified), the direct messaging feature will do away with their 140-character limit. Public Tweets will remain at the 140-character limit.

Here is how Twitter have stated you can prepare for the change:

We’ve included some recommendations below to ensure all your applications and services can handle these longer format messages before we flip the switch.

We recommend taking the following actions in preparation:

  1. Review the new API additions stated on the forum.
  2. Update your GET requests so you will be able to receive the full length of DM text.
  3. Adjust your app UI to accommodate longer DM text.

We encourage you to test and deploy the above changes in advance, but you won’t be able to send longer DMs until we launch in July.

Following Twitter’s launch of the group messaging feature in January, this is another significant move on their behalf to make DM’s a more prominent feature, and not just a way to introduce yourself to new followers away from the public eye. This follows the introduction of the opt-in option for users to receive direct messages from any account (only users who follow each other can send direct messages to each other) by heading to the Security and Privacy section on the Main Settings.

What does this mean for businesses?

With the 140-character cap being removed from direct messages, businesses can now communicate with clients and potential customers, respond to queries and complaints and have group discussions with more freedom, and in much more depth.

In the case of queries and complaints, businesses can take their discussion away a public forum, where it is possible (especially when you only have 140-characters at your disposal) to come across as rude or abrupt. If the conversation can be taken to direct messaging – and therefore staying on Twitter rather than switching to phone or email – the issue can be dealt with straight away without any character limits or time constraints holding you back.

Whether this is one of the reasons for the cap being released or not remains to be seen, but the removal of the 140-character limit on DM’s should be seen as a good move by Twitter, even if it will not benefit every user of the app.