I don’t proclaim to be a social media expert, guru, champion, junkie, or addict. I do claim to be a marketing professional that has fallen in love with social media. And when marketing and social media come together, magic happens. Or rather, it can happen.
If you’ve been on Twitter for any length of time, either as a blogger or business representative, you’ve been followed by someone claiming to be something related to social media. You might also see the words “internet marketer,” “affiliate marketer,” “network marketer,” or my latest favorite “infopreneur” in their Twitter bio.
You might have been tempted to follow some of these people. They may have even engaged with you. It’s okay to follow them. Really. You can always unfollow if you don’t like what you see in their stream. But there is one thing they are most certainly known for: the auto DM.
For those of you not entirely Twitter literate (I know you were expecting me to say Twitterate), a DM is a Direct Message. It’s a private message from one Twitter user to another. You can only send DMs to people who follow you. Just because you follow Alyssa Milano doesn’t mean you will be able to send her private messages. She needs to follow you back.
Many early adopters thought it was a cool idea to have a message automatically sent to any new follower welcoming them. The message was usually something simple like “Thanks for the follow!”
Was it ever a good idea? I looked to see if I could find any evidence of it being recommended once upon a time and the reasoning for it. It’s not informational. It’s not personal. And most people view it as spam. In fact, a post written back in December 2008 gave good solid (but slightly misspelled) advice on how to use Twitter as a tool. It’s surprisingly still valid and not surprisingly pleaded with people to end the use of auto DMs.
I bring it up here because it’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away. When I googled the term “auto DM,” I received twelve pages of results. While I didn’t go through every result page, I did find only a handful of links that weren’t begging and pleading for Twitter users to stop.
In my two years or so of tweeting, I’ve never met a single person who likes to receive auto DMs and I’ve only met one person who uses them simply because she finds it an effective tool to drive people to her blog. It’s an interesting concept. Let’s look at an example.
I recently attracted a new follower of @SocialDialect. There are a few things I check for before I follow back (saving that for another post). Although I was a little skeptical of this person’s bio, I took a chance:
I’m a social media addict and mumpreneur. I love helping people with their business.
Although I was pretty sure I didn’t need her help, I followed anyway. And sure enough, I quickly received an auto DM.
Thanks for following me. To receive my free report on how to get the best out of social media pls click [link deleted] Pls say hi:)
In all fairness, I wanted to give her a shot. I clicked on the link. It’s a ploy to get my email address. It’s a strong attempt to get me to subscribe to the newsletter where “all their best content” is. I rejected the “free report” and went to the home page to nose around, again just to be fair. I glanced at the posts and after about 30 seconds, I had a pop-open window asking me to subscribe. I was annoyed and closed it. I tried to read some more and the same thing happened. After the third attempt, I left the site and promptly unfollowed the user.
Most people wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did. I know many people that have a strict rule. If you auto DM them, they will unfollow you immediately. That’s it. End of story. You may have lost your one chance to engage.
For the love of God and all that is holy, if you are using auto DMs, please stop. If you are thinking about using auto DMs, don’t start. If you still think they are effective, take your auto DM message and ask yourself if there’s any reason to send it privately. If not, why not welcome your new followers publicly? Everyone loves a mention and you might even start a conversation.
That’s what it’s about, isn’t it?
Looking for agreement, disagreement, or just plain humorous stories. Please share your thoughts on auto DMs on Twitter.