Editor’s note: This post was published in both Social Media Week and Social Media Today.  Deontae will also be teaching a Social Media Bootcamp for intermediate users Mar. 2, 9 & 16 in 2016, Register here.

I was reading a few marketing and social media blogs recently and came across an interesting article discussing whether or not you should direct message individuals as a marketing strategy.

Yes. It’s a direct contact to individuals, but you must be careful because no one likes to see spam-related content in their personal inboxes. Personally, I instantly unfollow anyone who sends me an automated message as part of a promotional campaign. Please, save them for press releases and other general messaging.

As a brand or organization, there’s a certain way to direct message someone that is effective if done in the right manner. Here are four ways you can effectively direct message someone as a brand:

1. Your first direct message should just introduce yourself and thank them for the follow

People like to be acknowledged as people – not sales lead. Tell them thank you for the follow and that you also look forward to the connection, or their tweets. Doing this is settle and doesn’t make that follower uncomfortable.

2. Make it clear what you do and then promote

If you choose to not do a “hello” type of message, then explain what you do. It will allow them to understand why you’re promoting to them in a direct message. You have the capacity and character limit on your side to be a clear as you want in the message. Just don’t go over 200 characters. No one is trying to read your email in a direct message.

3. Resolve issues through a direct message when it comes to individual claims

Many brands do this. For issues that may not apply to everyone, they try to keep it on a one-on-one level. This effort helps you maintain a positive relationship with that individual from a negative situation. This should be part of your crisis communication plan – a whole different blog post than this.

4. Don’t send the same message to everyone else

A person knows when you’ve simply copied and pasted a message. Approach your direct messaging strategy like a cover letter – make a few adjustments so it can address a specific person. Lets not be lazy when doing outreach for your promotional content. If it’s a person you’re reaching out to, use a first name. If an organization or institution, use their name. It’s okay to be generic if the distinction of that follower isn’t clear.