I don’t know who was the first person to come up with the idea of automatically sending a private message to everyone who follows you on Twitter, but it was a really bad idea, and has rendered the DM function almost useless. I know many people who don’t even check their DMs anymore because 99% of them are auto-DMs. The 1% that are legitimate messages just drift off into Twitter oblivion.
Twitter really should just ban auto-DMs. They’ve banned apps that auto-follow; surely more common sense can’t be far behind.
If you’re wondering if your auto-DM is annoying, the answer is most likely yes. I’ve seen a few — very, very few — that were funny or clever. That’s out of 10,000 or so. (Just rounding here. I haven’t actually archived or counted my DMs.) Those are pretty low odds.
If you’re still not sure, I’m happy to spell it out for you (and vent a little in the process).
- “_____ uses TrueTwit validation. To validate click here: _____”
No. I’ve already clicked your follow button. Why should I have to click yet another link, fill out a CAPTCHA, and click yet another button (and look at horrid ads while I’m there) just so I can have the privilege of following you? Or so you’ll follow me back? Or whatever the actual purpose of all that garbage is. I could have retweeted three other people in the time I spent proving to you, person I do not even know anything about, that I am not a bot. I just delete these DMs. Every few days, I go to ManageFlitter.com and unfollow 100 people who aren’t following me back. I start with the oldest, so I’m giving everyone more than enough time to follow me back (usually several weeks). If these True-Twitters aren’t following me, then off they go. The only way to not have to validate is to join True-Twit yourself, so you too can annoy the rest of Twitter.
- “I noticed your follow. Join me @ LinkedIn _____ *DMer’s name* email ______”
First, you didn’t notice my follow. Your app noticed my follow. Second, we are on Twitter. Do not send me an auto-DM asking me to find you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Huffpost, or Club Penguin. (Wait. Sorry. The six-year-old is playing behind me.) Put that info in your bio if it’s so important that everyone stalk you everywhere. Or set up an about.me page. You can put all your social media links on there, and use that in your bio. Or you could list all your links as part of your Twitter background. Then when I want to know more about you — after we’ve actually been social on social media — I can easily find you elsewhere.
- “Hello. Check out my website/blog/Amazon author page.”
This message can arrive with or without links. I’m not sure which is more annoying. Assuming that I want to do this, and sending it as soon as I follow you (see the point above) or sending it as soon as I follow and assuming I’m going to take the extra time to click over to your bio and find these links.
- “Buy followers/retweets”
This one comes with links, but the only thing I click is the Report Spam button.
- “Some stupid random marketing message that has nothing to do with what most people want.”
For the gillionth time, people: It’s social media. There are blog posts and tutorials all over the internet explaining that the best way to get customers through social media — whether you are a brick and mortar business or an self-published author — is to actually engage with people. In case there is any confusion, sending an auto-DM to market to someone who just “met” you does not count as engagement.
- “I do this (and I’m telling you so you’ll spend some money on my product or service). What do you do?”
I got a flurry of these last year for some reason. I sat down one day and answered all of them with, “I’m a freelance editor and proofreader.” Only one person responded. He was an author, he did not become a client, and we did manage to have a fun convo for a few days. This is not advised for use as a marketing strategy. First, as I mentioned before, so many people don’t even check DMs anymore. Second, when you don’t respond when people answer your question, it exposes your insincerity pretty quickly.
This isn’t an exhaustive list. Basically, if you’re using auto-DMs, just stop. It’s social media. Stick to being social.