Shhhhhh. It’s still pretty hush-hush at the moment, but there’s a new Twitter account that aims to increase awareness of activity from your “follow graph” — i.e., the notable things that are happening in the accounts that you follow. In the process, it also opens the door a tiny bit on the idea of direct messages as a marketing/content channel. More on that in a bit.
The @MagicRecs account is about as quiet as an account can be after Twitter CEO Dick Costolo plugged it on Sunday night, saying it’s “a product of some great work by the team here. Follow it!” (Despite that, @MagicRecs still has fewer than 2,000 followers as I type this.)
When we asked for more information, a Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the account and only pointed us to an old blog post where Twitter talks about all the feature tests it conducts at any time. So, despite the odd choice of background imagery (it appears to be something by Friedrich Justin Bertuch), this is a real Twitter account.
What Will @MagicRecs Offer Twitter Users?
The account’s profile description promises “personalized real-time recommendations of users and content, delivered instantly as they happen, via direct message to you,” and says it won’t send more than three DMs per day.
I followed the account last night, and received this direct message earlier today:
It’s telling me that @ignitordigital, a new Twitter account representing an agency that two of my friends recently launched, was just followed by six of my followers. (I’ve blurred out the three @names mentioned in the DM since I didn’t ask for permission to include them in this image.)
It’s somewhat interesting for me to find out that a group of my followers have suddenly started following the same account, and this kind of DM from @MagicRecs may increase engagement if users join the crowd and follow new accounts as a result.
It’s not clear what other types of DMs the account will send out and what events will trigger them. With the account description also promising content recommendations, I’m expecting to get direct messages that tell me about links, photos and maybe even Vine videos that are popular in my follow graph.
Twitter engineer Tim Trueman tweeted on Friday about @MagicRecs, saying it’ll share direct messages about “accounts to follow and tweets not to miss.”
1. Follow @MagicRecs 2. ??? 3. Profit! (Or at least receive realtime, highly-relevant DMs about accounts to follow and tweets not to miss…)
— Tim Trueman (@timtrueman) June 14, 2013
Direct Messages For Content & Marketing?
Aside from the personalized recommendations, the other thing that @MagicRecs is notable for is its use of direct messages as a content and marketing channel.
I’m not a heavy user of Twitter direct messages (with any account that I follow), so this seems like a first to me — at least a first from Twitter itself using DMs in this way. (There must be other accounts that use direct messages to get content and marketing messages to followers, right?)
For me, Twitter direct messages have always been about private conversations with friends (that I try to move to email as quickly as possible) or customer service help from certain brands that I follow, so I feel like I’ve just opened a door that lets Twitter send me promotional messages where none were sent before. Over time, I’m bound to become more accustomed to getting impersonal messages via direct message — that might be good news for the brands I follow.
On a semi-related note, see this @MagicRecs public tweet from a month ago, where the account announces that it’s “now enabled to get a DM from any follower.” This seems to be the first account/case where users can send DMs to an account even if the account isn’t following you. That goes against one of Twitter’s long-standing rules, that you can only send DMs to an account that’s following you. File that away for the future, and mark it now as one more reason that @MagicRecs is an interesting Twitter project … experiment or not.
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)