Twitter’s Custom Profiles signal when DMs with brands’ bots are handed to a human


For all the talk of artificial intelligence, chat bots aren’t that smart. Brands are increasingly automating their customer services channels on social networks like Twitter and Facebook Messenger, but brands’ bots can’t handle all customers’ inquiries, leading to awkward mid-conversation handoffs to a human customer service representative. So Twitter has come up with a way to signal when the switch is being made.

Twitter is rolling out Custom Profiles that marketers can use to indicate who is sending a specific direct message from a brand’s account. They are basically the equivalent of an email signature for Twitter DMs. Custom Profiles are only available to verified brand accounts, and those accounts must apply for access by filling out this form.

Custom Profiles swap out an account’s default profile photo that’s normally attached to a DM with a new photo and a line of text below the DM that represent who’s behind a specific message. The additional text can include standard letters and symbols as well as emojis, but it cannot be longer than 48 characters. As the first brand to use Custom Profiles, T-Mobile has been attaching the headshot, name and title of its customer service representatives conversing with customers through its @TMobileHelp account.

Twitter’s Custom Profiles swap out an account’s profile photo with one representing who’s sending a specific message, plus their name.

Custom Profiles appear to be primarily designed to clear up the bot-to-human handoff that brands like 1-800-Flowers have struggled with. But they can serve other purposes. For example, a brand might hire a celebrity to overtake its Twitter account and let people DM the celebrity through the brand’s account as a way to get people used to the idea of privately messaging the brand on Twitter. In that case, the brand could use Custom Profiles to signal when those DMs are coming from the celebrity. And when the celebrity is no longer involved, the brand can use Custom Profiles to signal that the DMs are once again coming from a bot or member of the brand’s social media or customer service team.

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