To Send an Automated DM or Not

Auto DMs

Thank's For Following

It’s obvious that Twitter is a great platform to be utilized by businesses, government agencies or non-profit organizations to promote their brands. They soon learned how hard it was to keep up with the large amounts of followers – and in came automated direct messages (automated DM’s) from third party applications like Tweetadder or Vicconsult.

Every day I get numerous dm’s that are automated – whether it’s clear or not so clear that they are automated. However I don’t know if I think it’s a good strategy or not. It makes me happy getting a notification that I’ve received a dm but when I open it and see “Thank you for the follow! Check out my blog” or “Download this free ebook” or “use this coupon to get a 50% discount” it is a total turn off. So I weighed out the pro’s and con’s to make up my mind.

Pro’s

  • Time management. Sending a thank you note to all new followers without actually having to type an individual message saves a lot of time. Marketing jobs in the social-sphere is not just about sending a tweet here and there. It’s a BUSY job! So automated messages can give you extra time to do all the other tasks of a digital marketer.
  • Grasps Attention. When I follow a brand, and I don’t receive a dm, I’m following them because I am interested in their content and what they have to offer. When I receive a DM from that same brand, it gives me a message that maybe I missed when scrolling through their tweets. Or maybe the message told me something I didn’t know.
  • Connections. Brands can easily and promptly connect with their audience using automated dm’s. Or do they REALLY connect? Maybe this is more of a neutral idea rather than a pro.

Con’s

  • Dehumanizing. First things first, I strongly believe it dehumanizes a brand to send an automated dm to a new follower. As I said before, receiving a dm from a new follower excites me but when I open the message to see just another robotic message it turns me away. The use of auto dm’s led to a 245% increase in unfollow rate. I haven’t unfollowed a brand due to an automated dm but I understand why people do so. Brands use social media to engage with their consumers on a more personal, human to human level. So why contradict that?
  • Spam. Many people look at automated dm’s as spam. Maybe it’s because a message is sent out right away – as soon as someone follows a brand. There’s no way a business with 100K+ followers, who receives many notifications every minute, would notice a new follow and send a message within one minute.
  • Laziness. Plain and simple marketers are busy. Running analytics, social listening, creating editorial calendars, curating content, brainstorming strategies, blah blah blah. Not to mention, a social media job is not your average Monday to Friday, 9-5 job. It’s 24/7, 365 days a year. Successfully engaging with your audience does not consist of an automated dm, thanking me for following them. Why are you thanking me? I’m supposed to follow you as a consumer. Instead, retweet me, favourite one of my tweets, share my posts, etc.
  • Annoying & Obnoxious. Some automated dm’s are obvious that they are automated and some are not so obvious, however they both are a bit “try-too-hardish”. I don’t even open up the half of them because they all say the same, robotic message. On occasion maybe you’ll generate a little bit of traffic to your site but in reality you’re degrading your brand and adding to the clutter.
  • “Auto” – The technique, method or system of operating a process by independent means. Automation surely has its place on Twitter but it shouldn’t have a place in one-on-one communication with followers.

I think it’s safe to say that I am not a fan of automated direct messages on Twitter. I won’t unfollow or dislike a brand because of it, because sending an automated message is still better than nothing. But, it degrades a brand and instead of actually connecting and engaging with consumers, it does the exact opposite.

So to all the brands who currently use this technique, STOP! If you really want to send a direct message, make sure it is VERY genuine and unique to EVERY new follower. I’m sure consumers will appreciate and gain more trust in those brands who ‘@‘ them instead of a dm. Relationship building simply cannot be automated.

Please, let me know your thoughts. I’m eager to hear your opinions. Maybe I’m missing something but as of right now I say NO to automated direct message’s.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 2.12.46 AM

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  • LiorSolomon

    What do you think about auto replies? assuming you are answering to a very focused group and not spamming anyone…

    • Thanks for your comment Lior. I had to think about the pro’s and con’s with that one but I have to say that auto replies are just as a negative thing as auto dm’s. Although you’re not sending the same message to, lets say, 100 different people, the way I look at it is, if any message is not unique and directed to an individual on a personal level, then I still say no! Social media involves building one-to-one relationships between you and members of your audience and with auto replies, you can’t do that.
      :)

      • LiorSolomon

        Thanks Kayla for taking the time. So to make it clear you suggest treating twitter mostly as a branding tool and don’t consider it as a distribution channel? Building a one-to-one relationship when you scale up can be challenging when it comes to a small startup company.

        • I completely agree. It’s a huge challenge, especially for small businesses but there’s also so much opportunity via the online world. I like to use the 80/20 rule. 80% of the content you share should NOT be regarding promotional posts whatsoever and the other 20% can be. I definitely think that Twitter should be more of a branding tool, rather than a distribution channel – not only Twitter, but any platform for that matter. When I, for example, follow a brand, I don’t only want to see their promotional posts. Social media is used to connect with others and brands are now seeing that.

          • LiorSolomon

            Thanks Kayla for sharing your thoughts and experience, have a good one

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