It’s tempting to set up automated direct messages (DMs) on Twitter for a variety of reasons: to thank people for following, to promote something, or to spam someone. Assuming you’re a legitimate business and not a spammer, I know you’re looking for ways to make it easier to do social media for your business. Unfortunately, I think in most cases the automated DM will do more harm to your reputation than good.
Automation Isn’t Very Social
Some things just can’t be automated… like socializing. I don’t know who said it first, but sending automated “Thanks for following me” messages on Twitter is like sending a robot to a networking meeting. Sure it will save you time and energy, but the people on the receiving end of the robotic handshake aren’t thinking kindly of you after the interaction.
There are several things I see in automated DMs that give them away:
- I once received one that said “Hello from Halifax…” Um… yeah… I live in Halifax and I know you.
- On corporate accounts I see them merging names into the message, which often backfires. I manage the @CharityHFX Twitter account and the “name” is Halifax Charities. I receive DMs directed to “Halifax”. This post was inspired by one that Linda at Daley Progress shared with me recently, in which she was called “Daley”. I get that in some cases even a human would have trouble discerning a name from an account bio, but a human is less likely to get it wrong.
- Asking me how they can help me with social media. Sure, I have lots to learn and I follow a lot of other social media people on all networks, but it’s a pretty big assumption that everyone who follows you is doing so because they need your help. Plus, if this message had been done by a human they would have hopefully noticed that I am a competitor, not a potential client, and written a different message.
Automated DMs Don’t Reach Everyone
Many people don’t check their direct messages on Twitter because they are sure they are all spam. This makes it difficult to send some people a real message, so if it’s important, make sure you have another way to contact them. Even more important is the ability to opt out of any DMs sent from the SocialOomph platform. (I admit, I used several of SocialOomph’s features a few years ago when I was starting out, until I switched all my activity to Hootsuite.) While I’m sure there are more, I’ve only found about four programs for automating DMs on Twitter and SocialOomph is the most common one. When I did Opt Me Out it cut the automated DMs down by 75% at least. I’m starting to get more now as people find the other program(s). So you have no idea how many people are even getting your DMs!
Replacing Automated DMs
What’s a busy small business owner to do? If your Twitter following is growing quickly you probably don’t have time to thank every new follower. Personally I don’t think that’s even necessary. A couple of years ago it was a nice gesture, but now it feels contrived because of all the automation. If you’re thanking everyone it just doesn’t feel all that special or genuine to me. I don’t generally thank individuals for following me any more. If I do, it’s a personalized, unique message because it’s someone whose name I recognize from somewhere, a long-lost friend, a company I’d like to build a relationship with, or someone whose name or bio piques my interest.
What do you think? Do you ever get an automated DM that you actually appreciate? Did you not know about this automation and think all these messages were genuine? Do you think it’s still necessary to thank each individual who follows you?