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.


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.