Death to Auto-DMs on Twitter

Posted on 17 February 2011

You don’t STILL think auto-DMs on twitter are a good idea, do you?!

I HATE auto-DMs, and I know I’m not alone in that. If you do a search for “auto-dms on twitter”, you’ll see lots of blog posts on that topic. The vast majority of them are by people who hate auto-DMs as vehemently as I do.

You don’t know what an auto-DM is? It stands for an “automated direct message”, which is a private message that you send to acknowledge someone who follows you on twitter. There are tools that people use to prepare and send out canned auto-DMs, but I’m not going to name those tools or give you the links, because I don’t want you to use them.

Here are some auto-DMs I’ve received in just the past few days, after I followed people who seemed sane and interesting:

  • “Thanks for the follow. Be sure to check out our website [website address]”
  • “Hello and thanks so much for the follow! Look forward to sharing ideas with you. Please check out our site [website address]”
  • “Thanks for following [company name]! Please visit [website address] for information on how YOU can create your own [products]!”

And here’s my all-time-least-favourite, send-me-into-paroxysms-of-outrage auto-DM: “Thanks for the follow. What do you do?” Excuse me, did you read my bio?! If you don’t have the courtesy to do that before sending me a DM, you don’t deserve my follow.

So why do I hate auto-DMs so much?

  • They’re impersonal – the writer doesn’t bother to use my name, or tell me their name.
  • Most of them drive me to visit the writer’s website. Good grief! If someone’s website URL is listed in their profile, then I KNOW I can visit it if I want to. And I WILL, if I’m interested. But I don’t need them to push me.
  • A DM is someone’s FIRST communication with me after I follow them. I’d prefer them to build a relationship with me and gain my trust before they start blatantly pushing their stuff.
  • It seems to me that automation is totally contrary to the “social” part of “social media”. I want to communicate with a PERSON, not a robot.

So if you send me an auto-DM (or even a message that looks/sounds/feels like a pushy auto-DM) after I follow you, I will instantly unfollow you.

Here’s an article I particularly like on this topic: “Eliminate Twitter Auto DMs in 4 Easy Steps” by Sean McGinnis (@seanmcginnis).

And in this article, a contributor recommends the use of auto-DMs (see point #4), and is shot down in flames by several commenters: “8 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Get More Out of Twitter” by Scott Gerber (@askgerber).

What do YOU think and feel about auto-DMs? Is there ANY good reason for people to use them?

Kay Ross
http://twitter.com/kayross

P.S. In related news, see my blog post titled “If I’m Not Following You Back On Twitter, Here’s Why”.


9 responses to Death to Auto-DMs on Twitter

  • [...] I replied: “Oh no! Please don’t send a pushy ad about your company as an impersonal automated DM as soon as someone follows you. Not cool. Kay” [By the way, here's why I hate auto-DMs on twitter.] [...]

  • [...] You think it’s OK to send an automated, impersonal Direct Message to every new follower, saying “Thanks for following. Visit our website at [link]”. (Here’s my blog post about why I hate that: “Death to Auto-DMs on Twitter”) [...]

  • Ari Herzog says:

    I wonder the feedback if I manually write a generic-looking response to each auto DM. Maybe there’s such a script out there. Heh.

    • kay says:

      Ha ha, Ari! But I suggest don’t waste your time – I’m not sure it would make any difference. I’ve found that people who believe it’s OK to send auto-DMs don’t understand why many people don’t like receiving them.

  • [...] “Death to Auto-DMs on Twitter” by Kay Ross (yes, that’s me, @kayross) [...]

  • Thanks for the link Kay. This has been a sore spot for me for a while.

    I think the worst auto DM was one I got just recently (so I wasnt able to completely kill auto-DMs). It read something akin to:

    “Sorry for the auto-DM, but I want to offer you 10% of our products at our web site”

    Blech. Just awful.

    Glad to find another kindred spirit!

    Sean

  • Mike Cormack says:

    Agree with all these. My own pet hate for auto-DMing is “Hi! What are you working on now?” Insincerity + knowledge that to answer would be a waste of time.

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