Direct messages (DMs) used to be seen as a bit of a shady way to “approach” someone online. “Sliding into the DMs” was a pop culture reference well before COVID-19.
However, since the pandemic, for those not on dating apps or simply found someone that piqued their interest on a non-dating site, sliding into DMs can be seen as a more straightforward and even intimate way to connect. After all, what are the alternatives?
Commenting on their posts or photos can be easily overlooked, especially if they’re particularly popular on social media. Finding out another way of contacting them, such as looking up phone numbers or emails, can definitely overstep boundaries and even be seen as “stalkerish.”
In the era of COVID, sliding into DMs is an increasingly acceptable way of approaching someone. It’s no longer seen as sleazy or reserved for those who “can’t get a date” in what we oddly deem more appropriate places like a bar or even a grocery store. It shows that you’re staying safe by social distancing and doing your part to curb the spread of coronavirus. This makes your first move established on solid ground. But what’s next?
- Consider the platform
How easily your DM will be seen depends on the platform and the other person’s settings. For example, if you’re not friends already on Facebook you might have to pay to have your message seen (which can seem a bit desperate) or just hope that the person checks their filtered messages. Some people choose to send a friend request first and follow that up immediately with a DM. Others use other apps, like Instagram, which (again, depending on settings) might ensure the DM is seen more easily.
- Put in some effort—but not too much
There’s no perfect initial message that will work for everyone. If there was, that would have been established and copied and pasted years ago. Every person is different, which means everyone will respond to messages a little differently. Find out a little about the person from their social media, but not so much that it seems like you’re poring over their every word.
For men, saying more than “Hi” or “Hey” or “What’s up?” is usually imperative. Aim for two or three sentences that are genuine and perhaps complimentary (without focusing purely on the physical). If you have something obviously in common, such as you notice they post a lot of yoga photos and you’re also a yogi, mentioning that can be an easy way to start a conversation.
- Stop at 1 message
It can be difficult to hold yourself back, especially when you can’t always be certain if the person got the message. Being left on “read” is especially frustrating. However, if the other person doesn’t respond to your message, that in itself is a message.
Many people on social media, particularly if they’re very popular, are bombarded with messages daily. That’s what makes that initial DM so essential. Ultimately, practice makes perfect. This doesn’t mean using the same message for everyone, but rather the practice of personalizing each DM. Are there certain themes or words that tend to get more responses? Every time you send a DM, whether you get a reply or not, is a learning experience.
- Take it beyond DMs
Right now, it’s not unusual to stick with DMs as a way to communicate. After all, getting together in person probably isn’t a good idea (unless you can really commit to meeting and keeping six feet apart). Pre-COVID, it was recommended to take the communication to texting or meeting in-person, but that rule has been suspended for now. Still, it might be a good idea to establish a more intimate means of communicating such as exchanging phone numbers or video chatting so that you stand out amidst the influx of other messages.