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Twitter has launched a new tool for brands to use when interacting with customers. Within direct messages, businesses can now ask for or share location data, which should help guide people to nearby retail stores. This feature is available through Twitter’s developer program to partners offering customer service tools for brands.

Above: Twitter now lets brands ask and share location data within direct messages.

Image Credit: Twitter

When engaging in conversations over direct message, brand managers can ask customers for their exact location in order to provide better service. This is particularly useful for businesses with multiple locations, such as hotels, car dealerships, or even government agencies. Say you’re wandering a new city and need to find a nearby Hilton — you could DM the hotel chain and provide your location so a customer service representative can show you the nearest place to stay.

The entire process is by permission only, and users have complete control. Twitter even lets you pick a place name from a list — you don’t have to physically be there.

Any business that finds a creative use for location data could take advantage of this new feature. It could be used in a customer interaction, within an automated message, or anywhere else.

Location data is the most recent update to direct messages for brands, coming on the heels of quick replies, welcome messages, and an option to help make brands appear more human. All of these features are available through services like Assist, Sprinklr, Lithium, and others, rather than through Twitter’s native apps or website.

“Twitter has moved into the core part of platforms that businesses are using for customer care alongside phones, email, and web chat,” product manager Ian Cairns once told VentureBeat. “It’s no longer about social marketing teams, but core customer care teams [that are responding on Twitter]. Companies are running a serious business here and are looking for help in scaling it.”

Support for location data comes days after Facebook announced that live location could be shared with friends and contacts within its Messenger app. But unlike Twitter, Facebook allows this information to be available for up to an hour. Twitter did not specify how long the location data would be accessible.

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