About a year and half ago I wrote a post called “Should You Send an Automated DM to New Twitter Followers?” In case you haven’t read it, I was against it.
Shortly after I wrote that post, the number of automated direct messages (DMs) I received declined. In fact, for several months I received almost no automated DMs. Only DMs from people who wanted to send me, and only me, a private message. Now as much as I would like to take credit for this decline in what is essentially Twitter SPAM, I am sure my post is not the only reason for this. 😉
However, I’m starting to see a rise in automated DMs so I thought I’d revisit the issue.
First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same playing field. What is an automated DM?
A DM (or direct message) is Twitter’s private message service. If you send a DM, only the recipient can see it. This is different from an @reply (an “@” symbol in front of someone’s Twitter user name) which is public. For example if you put @andreastenberg in your Twitter message, everyone can read that message but the @andreastenberg let’s me know you meant that message for me or were talking about me in some way.
An automated DM is different. There are a number of tools that let you automatically follow people who are following you. These same tools often will allow you to automatically send a DM to anyone who starts to follow you. Now on the surface, this sounds like a good idea. If you’re using Twitter to market yourself or your business, why not automate things to make it easier?
Well, another term for social media is social networking. And I’m sorry to say, you can’t automate your networking. You need to put in the time.
Let me show you some examples of what’s in my DM folder right now. Please note, the names/links have been blocked out to protect the innocent (and not so innocent).
Second, this guy doesn’t know me from a hole in the ground and he’s trying to sell me something. Dude, build a relationship first.
When I get these types of DMs, I do one of two things. If I’m in a good mood I reply with a link to my article about DMs. If I’m in a snarky mood I unfollow them immediately. And I know a lot of people who do the same. If you’re trying to build a loyal following, this is not the way to do it.
Better but still SPAMish
I’m not offended or annoyed by this type of DM, but it still feels too soon. This guy hasn’t tried to get to know me at all. This is just trying to get me to his website. Yes, it’s for a free audio, but it still feels kind of like a guy trying to kiss me before I’ve even agreed to a first date.
Still too impersonal
It is nice to say she wants to engage longer on Facebook, but we haven’t engaged at all on Twitter yet. The only contact we’ve had is that I’ve started following this person. I haven’t had much of a chance to see what she has to say.
What would be better in my opinion? Actually read some of my Tweets. Make some @replies to what I’ve had to say, or reTweet me. Once we’ve actually engaged (that’s college-speak for having a conversation) then send me the DM about connecting on Facebook.
Best so far
This DM is much better. It’s still pretty generic but at least it’s not trying to get me to take action. It doesn’t look like an automated message since it includes my name although it could be. However, at least he’s trying to start a conversation. And that’s what it’s all about.
Andrea J. Stenberg
What do you think? Are you for or against automated DMs? Do you think they help or hurt the relationship- building process? Do you have a particularly funny one you want to share? Please leave a comment.