From Social Patterns
People want to have a private conversation in the context of a social or interest based online situation.
Use to create a private environment for people to talk.
- Allow people to send private messages to each other for asynchronous conversations.
- Creating an in-context inbox for private messaging can compound a fractured online identity. Consider allowing users to use their previously set up email for messaging as an option.
- Younger users are less likely to use email for conversations, so an in-context messaging system may be more appropriate for the younger demographics.
- Provide a “nudge” capability. Allow one user to send another a canned message of encouragement or a nudge for more participation or conversation.
- Sometimes just the ability to have a backchannel from the public arena may be all that’s needed rather than a heavy messaging system. Twitter provides the ability for its users to send a direct message to each other within the system.
- Consider an inline chat capability when also displaying online presence.
Providing simple tools for one user to nudge another can get a conversation going especially if one person is shy or not as confident online as the other.
A backchannel for a private conversation within a public conversation tool will keep people engaged in the service for longer periods of time.
Twitter offers the ability for users to direct message a private message to another user within the same interface as the main twitter interface by simply adding the letter D in front of a user's handle.
Sometimes people want to have an “offline” conversation away from the public venue. Giving people tools for private conversations – whether asynchronous like email, direct messages or notes or synchronous like instant messaging – can help strengthen ties in relationships and increase participation in the social environment.