Automated DMs: Useful or Worthless?


Recently, I was challenged by a new Twitter follower (@normalrockstar) regarding my practice of sending an auto-reply direct message (DM) to new followers.

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He’d read my post on Twitter navigation and questioned my sincerity.  His DM read in part:

Why is the guy who blogged about “interacting with followers” sending automatic replies?

I responded by saying I felt it “insures that I connect with you promptly upon your decision to follow me, something I think most people appreciate.”  The response came back,

My problem with it is it’s not REALLY connecting.  It’s your automated reply.  It’s like a band having an intern answer e-mail.

I couldn’t get past the truth in those words, interns notwithstanding.  But I’d gotten the idea in the first place from seeing it put into practice by @johnhaydon, someone I respected and admired.  He, unlike most, actually offered value in his DMs by suggesting others to follow.  No self-promotions or links.  I did the same.

But later that same day, I ran across another Twitter conversation where someone was arguing convincingly against the practice of auto-DMs.  Not long after that, I saw a tweet from @kriscolvin that included a link to this (you’ll want to check out this link if you want to put an end to receiving most auto-DMs).

I then started re-reading through many of the auto-DM’s I was receiving from recent new followers.  Admittedly, most were pure self-promotion or empty thank-yous.  I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is it possible, no matter how well-intentioned, for an automated DM to ring anything other than hollow.”

After all, the care I took in trying to create a value-filled auto-DM hadn’t resonated with at least one person.  How many others felt the same way and just hadn’t bothered to tell me?  Side note: one of the things I’ve learned over my career regarding criticism is that, often times, those dispensing it are the ones that actually give a hoot.

What does it all mean?  Well, for me at least, it means no more automated DMs.  Period.  From now on, when you receive a DM from me, it will have been written especially for you.  No exceptions.

And you can thank @normalrockstar.

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for helping me rid myself of those annoying autofollow DM’s. Like you said, I’m sure most are well intentioned, but they just feel like clutter to me.

  2. My pleasure Mark. I’m sure you get a lot more than most. Thanks for reading my blog. I’m honored sir.

  3. Hey Jeff! Great post – now THIS is something of value. :) I’m sorry you had issues sending me a DM – I checked and you weren’t blocked, so I don’t know what the deal is. Maybe because I’m in Canada right now and on a somewhat foreign network for Verizon that direct messages don’t always come through.

    Anyway, well written – thanks for being a good sport. Carry on!

  4. Thanks Jeremy. And thanks for being honest with me about auto-DMs. I learned something in the process.

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