The Case for Auto Direct Messages on Twitter

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Auto Direct Messages are NOT Social

I use to hate auto direct messages on Twitter. I would go as far as to unfollow someone if they sent me an automated direct message. Twitter is a social platform after all. Automation is not exactly social. In my mind, if you are sending me an automated message you only want to sell me something and I’m not interested. Alex Howard asked his followers what they thought about automated direct messages and the responses were mixed. Some thought that it was “cheesy” while others didn’t even know that it was an automated message. David Chevalier, Chief Sales Officer of SalesBlend, is completely against the practice. He makes a great point that “What you want to do is tweet valuable information and be helpful.”

Happy Medium?

I set out to test Auto Direct Messages on my own Twitter account. This was half-experiment/half-marketing campaign. I used Crowdfire to setup the automated direct message and here is what my message said:

I hate auto-dms! So why am I sending one to you? I also hate missing opportunities to meet new people. I have nothing to sell you so no worries there. I blog at http://thoughtsumo.com and I don’t sell anything there either. Don’t be afraid to chat me up especially about tech although I’m a pretty philosophical guy too. What I really want to say is thanks for the follow.

Notice I took a slightly different approach to the automated direct message. For one, I acknowledged that I don’t even like them. This is also precarious because if I don’t like them than why am I submitting my new follower to one? I answer that next. One bonus for me is that I really don’t sell anything. I have some Google Ads on my blog but that is the extent of it. The link to my blog is the marketing campaign part of this experiment. Does the automated directed message drive traffic to my blog? The short answer is yes. Before using the automated direct message my Twitter referrals were well behind my Facebook referrals. Now my Twitter referrals are about 30% higher than Facebook.

You Are Doing It All Wrong!

Engagement is the name of the game! If you can get a follower to talk to you then you have opened up an opportunity that you did not have before. The problem is that most social marketers are terrible at this. The automated direct messages that they send can be truly awful. Some are blatant sales pitches. These folks have not done their homework and are probably getting no traction at all with their tactics. Some are too cheap to pay the $10/month to their provider to get rid of the “via – @crowdfire” that is added to the end of the message. Still others have spelling and grammar errors that make hard for anyone to imagine “engaging” with the person.

I can not argue for these types of direct messages. These people have been sold a bottle of snake oil and told all they have to do is setup an automated direct message and the “passive income” will come flowing in. I’ve seen the pitches and the only people getting rich on this crap are the people selling the snake oil.

Engaging The Sender

There was another part of my experiment. If I was going to send automated direct messages to my new followers I was going to respond to those sent to me. When someone sent me an automated direct message I would send them a message that would start with “You are welcome” and then I would acknowledge their website, Facebook Page, or whatever else they were trying to get me visit, but then I turned the tables on them a little bit. I included the following with every message:

Do me a favor. Check out my blog at http://www.thoughtsumo.com. I don’t sell anything. I just enjoy sharing my thoughts, ideas, and the occasional tech tutorial with my friends. Have a great day!

If you have something that you want your followers to do like visit your blog, like your Facebook page, or connect with you on LinkedIn there is no reason why you shouldn’t seize the opportunity to get fellow marketers to do the same.

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Alternative to the Automated Direct Message

Automated direct messages are not going away. I have decided to abandon the practice because the annoyance to my followers outweighs the benefits of getting them to click on a link. I have had a few people express their discontent with one follower calling me a spammer and immediately blocking me. Another follower told me “thanks for the auto-dm spam a**hole”.

In the end, the alternative to the auto-dm is to manually engage. Your new follower. How in the world do you do that without hanging out on Twitter all day? Do what I did and setup an IFTTT that adds your new followers to a Google Spreadsheet. It isn’t automated so you are going to have to work a bit harder but your new followers won’t feel spammed and you can personalize messages for those followers based on what is important to them. You can visit their YouTube channel, blog, or product page before they even ask. Most importantly you don’t need introduce your blog, product, etc on the first contact. Your spreadsheet can become a multipurpose contact sheet that will allow you to make multiple contacts and most importantly force you to ENGAGE!

What about you? Do you use automated direct messages with new followers? What about receiving them? Do you respond back, ignore them, or unfollow and block? Let me know YOUR thoughts.

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