Crashing into one’s Direct Message inbox in our age and time without caution is equivalent to crashing into someone’s residence without prior notice.
Successfully navigating social media can be like walking through a field of landmines. Whether you’re gunning for business, a job or you’re trying to work up the courage to message your crush on Instagram, there are so many pitfalls that even the most experienced, well-intentioned writer can fall into from time to time. And when it comes to DMing someone you’re into, those mistakes can mean coming off as creepy and maybe even getting blocked.
Mark the right time
On a more professional note, if you’re contacting a potential employer or business collaborator, think about what time zone they’re in. They’re much more likely to reply if you hit them at 11am their time rather than in the middle of the night when they could easily sleep-read it and never respond. We’ve all done it.
Know your audience
Despite the informal nature of sliding into a DM, if you’re getting in touch with someone for professional reasons, treat your message with as much care as you would an email or letter. Sure, you don’t need to address them with a ‘dear’ or sign off ‘sincerely’, but ‘heyyy can you send me your email?’ probably won’t get you very far.
Make it clear why you’re contacting them, ask if there’s an email address they’d prefer you wrote them on, and always check your spelling. Remember: autocorrect ruins lives.
Don’t get stalkery
Although I’ve sung the praises of Instagram letting us slide right on in there, do remember that if the person you’re DMing isn’t following you, they’ll get a notification saying that you’ve requested to message them. Until they address this, you’ll remain in their secondary inbox and they have the option to accept or decline your correspondence.
If they accept, you’ll be able to see that they’ve read it, but that isn’t an invitation to send them a ‘?’ every 12 hours until they reply or block you (more likely). For work stuff, accept that people are busy, and if you don’t hear back in a week or so, it’s probably cool to follow up with an equally professional message. As for romantic propositions, don’t even bother with the follow-up–if they want to reply, they will.