When someone follows you on Twitter, it’s an invitation to connect — not a request for spammy messages sent by an automated program.
Automatic direct messages are not a Twitter feature; they are offered by third-party software companies, either for a fee, or in return for access to your Twitter followers.
I don’t like them and I’m not alone. I think Frank Strong said it best:
“Nothing says, ‘my time is more valuable than yours’ like an auto DM. Impersonal. Narcissistic. Pathetic. Even disrespectful.”
To be fair, I’m guessing the intention of many who use these systems is to make new followers feel appreciated without having to sit on their Twitter account all day. But here’s what you’re really accomplishing:
You’re broadcasting a message that says you’re not prepared to invest 30 seconds to notice who just followed you.
Come on. Unless you’re Ashton Kutcher or Lady Gaga, you’re not getting so many daily follows that it’s impossible to invest a few seconds on each one.
3 Things You Need To Know About Auto DMs
By now, you’ve surmised that I don’t think much of auto DMs. In no particular order, here are 3 things I think you need to know about them. I originally had 10 before I toned it down :).
#1. Auto DMs are deceptive in that they set a false expectation of conversation. When you get a new follower, Twitter lets you send them a direct message — a DM. But that person can’t respond to your DM until you actually follow them back. I’m convinced that most of the people who are using auto DMs don’t know this because I constantly get messages that include a question they want me to answer, which I (stupidly) attempt to respond to. That’s when I get the Twitter error message that tells me I’m an idiot because I just answered a machine, not a person. Actually, Twitter doesn’t use those words – it just tells me that the message I took the time to compose and send can’t be delivered. And that’s the point at which I unfollow the newly-followed account.
#2 Some auto DMs will actually produce the heebie-jeebies. You may lose your one chance to connect with a new follower by sending the creepy standard: “let’s take it beyond 140” – usually followed by a link, not an invitation to actually connect.
Which brings me to #3…
#3 Auto DMs containing a link reveal a lack of social media savvy on the part of the sender. The reason is this: Links in DMs have been known to lead to malicious sites. You’ve probably seen those messages — they say something like “you should see the video you were tagged in.” By clicking the link, your entire following is compromised in that a DM is sent from their account without their knowledge or permission. Savvy ‘net people won’t click on private messages containing links from unproven Twitter accounts – yet most auto follow DMs I get still contain a link.
There are other ways to thank people for following. You could actually send them a message. A real message. From a real, live person.
Kudos go to Stanford Smith of Pushing Social for coming up with a creative way to welcome people to Twitter. On his Twitter bio, he posted a link to thank people for following him. When you click http://pushingsocial.com/about/thanks-for-following-me/ you’re taken to a page on his site with an embedded video message. It’s not live, and it’s not a personal message just for you, but it’s sincere and transparent. Love that.
I realize I’ve taken a pretty extreme view here. Anyone want to make us aware of positives associated with auto DMs?
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