To Auto DM or Not to Auto DM on Twitter, that is the question


Twitter Auto DMYou check your Twitter account, and you see DMs (direct messages). You get all excited until you realize they are automated DMs from accounts you’ve just followed. Aaaargh, what a waste of time! There is a lively debate among social marketers about whether to auto DM or not to auto DM on Twitter. As usual, the answer is not black and white.

If you use Twitter, you are probably familiar with DMs – direct messages between users who follow one another. You are probably also familiar with the “Hey thanks for following” automated DM you often get from many “commercial” Twitter accounts. Those DMs are supposed to drive engagement. But often, they simply drive resentment. Even Twitter is ambivalent about auto DMs. So much so that you need to use third party software (e.g., socialoomph) to send auto DMs. Here is what Twitter says about auto DM:

Automated Direct Messages
With express user consent, automation of Direct Messaging is permitted. If your application sends or facilitates automated Direct Messages, users must request or otherwise indicate an intent to send or receive Direct Messages in advance. Authenticating into an app is not sufficient user consent. In efforts to prevent spam and protect our users from potentially malicious activity, we discourage sending links in the body of an automated Direct Message, and the action may be denied.

So there. It’s not entirely clear, but it seems to indicate auto DMs are permitted but require permission and no spamming.

The case against Auto DM

You can summarize the case against auto DMs succinctly by saying “because they usually suck” It is the same argument critics make about nearly all thoughtless marketing automation. Most auto DMs include a greeting, a link, or at best ones an offer for something that follower isn’t necessarily keen on. This creates the opposite of engagement. I like to call it “enragement.” For more thoughts about why Auto DM isn’t a great marketing tool, you can check out a post by Melissa Culberson on Blog Clarity called “Why TWITTER Auto DMs are Evil (and what you should do instead).”

Use with Caution

I mostly agree with Melissa’s take on auto DM-ing. But auto DMs do provide marketers with an opportunity to make a connection and provide value to a new follower. The secret is that if you are going to use Auto DM you had better have something valuable to offer. Whether it’s an exclusive discount, some really helpful content or a free eCourse, if you use Auto DM you need to amaze and overdeliver to cut through the clutter.

TL: DR: Don’t use Twitter auto DM unless you are committed to offering something of actual value to your followers.

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