Twitter direct messages or DM’s can be a great way to send a quick private message to a Twitter follower when text messaging isn’t an option.
Auto DM’s are messages sent out automatically whenever someone starts following you. For most Twitter users, these messages are viewed as, at the very least, a minor annoyance if not spam.
Auto-DM’s aren’t a Twitter feature but are offered by third-party services like Socialoomph (<--affiliate link). You can program in a message of your choosing (limited of course to 140 characters) that is sent automatically any time you get a new follower.
Should you use Auto-DM’s?
Let’s take a look at four examples:
Hey Thanks For Following Me! I look forward to your Tweets!
“Hey, I just added you to my Mafia family. You should accept my invitation! 🙂 Click here: http://www.playmobsterworld.com/xxxxxx”
http://bsproduct.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=bsaffiliate make a killing With Affiliate Marketing Through your Cell Phones!
Hi! Thanks your for the follow. I have just released a free ebook that will surely interest you: “Blah Blah Blah Blah!” – http://www.blah.com
J_Doe uses NiTwit validation service. Please follow this link to validate your profile. http://nitwit.com/y4877 Thanks
Although some auto-dm’s like Example #1 are fairly innocent, I think they do more harm than good and serve to clog up my in-box. And they have about as much sincerity than a greeter at Wal-Mart.
Unlike some of the other examples here, #2 is often sent out by the game the user is playing. Players don’t read the fine print when they sign up to play (or they don’t care) and their followers get garbage DM’s like this one. This and other DM’s promoting similar games are among the most annoying to followers.
Example #3 is fairly common. Almost everyone would agree this is spam.
Example #4 is also fairly common. Almost everyone would agree this one is spam, too… except for the sender!
A lot of entrepreneurs, including authors, speakers, coaches, internet marketers and direct marketers use auto-DM’s. They view them like an autoresponder on a website. As marketers, many of us have been taught from day one to offer an ‘ethical bribe’ to visitors in exchange for signing up for our mailing list or newsletter.
The idea is to offer something of value to begin building a relationship with that subscriber. While this works fine on a website, I think it’s a mistake to do so on Twitter.
Followers aren’t subscribers. If I join your mailing list, there’s an implicit understanding that you’re going to be sending emails to my in-box. By subscribing, I agree to that relationship. There is no such agreement when I follow you on Twitter.
Unless you’re Southwest Airlines, Oprah, Apple or Starbucks, I’m not expecting the type of one-way relationship I get when I opt-in to someone’s ezine. I don’t care if there is a free ebook involved. When I click the Follow button, I’m agreeing to view your Tweets in my timeline. Nothing more. Most active Twitter users are going to ignore or delete this DM. And many will unfollow you.
This last one is a tricky one. Some Twitter users, in an attempt to avoid spammers in their Twitter stream, are using services designed to help filter out spambots by requiring followers to click on the link and enter some random text.
I don’t have a problem with these at one level but find it annoying when someone follows me and I follow them back as a courtesy, even though I don’t know them yet, and I’m required to jump through a lot of hoops to do so.
Now if you send me a personal direct message, I don’t feel that violates the agreement. Cluttering up my in-box with a welcome message does. You might think it’s just one message, what’s the big deal? When you consider that Twitter users follow hundreds or even thousands of people, that adds up to a lot of junk DM’s.
And in case you haven’t noticed, Twitter’s in-box includes a ‘report as spam’ feature. If you’re auto-dm is viewed as the least bit spammy, you’re at risk of receiving complaints and, ultimately, having your Twitter account suspended. When that happens, don’t hold your breath waiting for Twitter to restore your account.
In my next post, I’ll show you how to block some of these auto-DM’s from showing up in your in-box. In the meantime, what’s your take on auto-DM’s? Leave a comment below.