Twitter: To Auto DM/Auto Follow or Not?

24 Feb

Twitter is suddenly really popular.  Had you noticed?  Everybody from Shaq to my mom (true story) is on there now. As with anything that becomes popular, the level of noise has increased dramatically.  Lots of folks trying to tell you how to get rich quick, or share awesome marketing secrets with you.  Don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of awesome marketing secrets.  I like Twitter because it sparks conversations:  I connect with people I find interesting. I goof around a bit, I network a bit, I share bits and pieces of my life (personal and professional), and vice versa. Above all though it’s authentic:  there are real people on the end of the tweets.

And so to the issue of Auto DMs.  For those that don’t know, a DM is a “Direct Message”,  a Twitter message that goes only to one person (i.e. is not visible on the public stream).  Kindof like a mini email sent just to you.  There are sites out there that will let you send one automatically, meaning that if I follow you on Twitter, the site recognizes that and automatically sends you a message.

They’ve been quite a hot topic on Twitter lately, with a lot of folks on there having a pretty vehement dislike of them, myself included. The reasoning is that Twitter is a very personal, conversation driven platform, so ‘faking it’ by sending an automatic canned message (e.g ‘thank you for following me, looking forward to connecting with you’) is disengenuous.  Much better to send a personal message (either DM or @) when the mood takes you, rather than automating it.  After all, how interested in me are you if you’re sending me the exact same message you send everyone else who follows you?  I’ve gotten auto DMs with broken links in them (great promotion, huh?), and ones with too much text that just cut off mid sentence.  Those ones make me feel really special.

I feel the same way about auto-following folks.  You can use those same applications to recognize when somebody has followed you, and immediately recipricate. Again, there’s no value here:  I want you to follow me because you’re interested/engaged/amused by what I have to say, not as a de facto, tit for tat thing.  If you automatically follow me because I’ve followed you, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Follow me because I’m interesting, not to return a favor.

Full disclosure here:  I briefly used an auto responder out of laziness for a while on @kaimoviereviews – all it said was ‘thanks for following, I take requests’ – figured I should let people know they could ask me to review movies, but after giving it a little more thought I realized that if they were interested enough to follow, they’d be interested enough to read my profile or click the link (or DM/@ me) and find out for themselves.

So what’s your take on the automation thing.  Big deal, or not so much?  Do  yo u follow everyone who follows you, or are you more selective?



8 Responses to “Twitter: To Auto DM/Auto Follow or Not?”

  1. Marc Sirkin February 25, 2009 at 7:51 am #

    No big deal, even though right now I choose not to use it.

    My take though, since you asked is that for organizations, small businesses and consultants (or efforts like @kaimoviereviews)it MAY make sense.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t using an autoresponder a best practice for managing email? Connect an autoresponder to a support, sales or contact us address and you can deliver a ton of value very quickly to folks.

    On a personal level, vacation responders, out of office messages are all forms of this. Used properly, I like it. Used to deliver “awesome marketing secrets” not so much.

    Same thing.

  2. kaimac February 25, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi Marc. Interesting perspective… for me the difference between email and twitter is that the kind of emails you reference tend to be eliciting a specific action. Technical support, issue with an online purchase etc. So it’s important for me to know that the recipient received my note and that I’m in a queue.

    On Twitter I’m not generally having that sort of exchange. I follow somebody because there’s something about them (business/personal) that interests me. I’ m typically not looking for a specific action from them, I’m looking to connect and interact with them one to one. So if that’s the type of interaction I’m looking for, it’s somewhat insulting to get a canned response. Totally impersonal.

  3. Ian February 26, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    I think auto DMs are lame, but I just chalk it up to part of the process. Don’t bother me, but I certainly am not naive enough to think I’m special when I get one.

  4. kaimac February 26, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    I guess part of the issue is that people who send them are clearly expecting them to be useful (otherwise whey do it?), when the reality is they’re anything but.

    Seesmic dude @loic just posted that he’s unfollowed people who sent him canned messages:

    So if Auto-DMs directly cause people to UNFOLLOW you, let alone do anything useful, why would anyone persist with them?

  5. Marc Sirkin April 23, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    Any changes in perspective on this since you blogged on this?

  6. Everything Car Boot November 28, 2009 at 6:14 am #

    I have just started using Twitter and I only manually following people who are interested in my topic. When I read through their tweets I send a few of them a direct message just to touch base on the topic we are both interested in.

    Don’t want to use autofollow or auto DM software – I want to build relationships on Twitter and connect with people, not send them automated, inpersonal sales messages.


  7. Pambie January 20, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    I am using Twitter both to engage and promote my business. The auto DMs that say: “FREE GIFT, CLICK here!” => bad! “Thanks for following; looking forward to getting to know you!” => not so bad.

    Lighten up people!

  8. Seguridad Financiera July 1, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    Yeah, i have been wondering if using Auto DM, but i see that most people don´t like it… i think i won´t use it.

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