Thanks to Twitter, brands can interact directly with consumers.
Despite this incredible tool for engagement, many brands still think it’s wise to send automatic direct messages (auto DMs) to their Twitter followers.
If you are among the lucky few who have yet to receive one, an auto DM is a private message you receive on Twitter, typically right after after you follow someone.
The issue that many people (including myself) have is that they are incredibly impersonal. You make a decision to follow a brand or an individual and then receive:
“Hey friend, please download my crappy eBook at www.you-are-a-sucker.com [so I can get your email address and spam that inbox, too].”
I’m disappointed to say that of the last 10 brands I’ve followed, seven have spammed me with auto DMs.
What if you did that in the real world?
If I was at a party and introduced myself to someone I didn’t know, and they responded: “Good to meet you, friend. Would you like to buy some dental insurance?” I would probably find it hard not to tell them to politely f**k off.
When I follow someone on Twitter, it’s because I believe I will gain value from what that person or brand has to share. It only leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I immediately receive a blatant solicitation encouraging me to buy their stuff.
Even when auto DMs are personal rather than sales pitches, they still have the effect of making a brand or person entirely disingenuous.
There are some “social media gurus” who continue to advocate for the time-saving and sales benefits of this type of communication.
It can be easy to be seduced by the convenience of auto DMs, and I fully understand that some people and brands are so popular that it would be nearly impossible to respond to everyone with a personal DM. That’s fine—your followers don’t expect it.
Instead, simply focus on producing great content on your regular Twitter stream. That way, you can build meaningful dialogue and everyone won’t think you’re some lowly, two-bit spammer!
What do you think? Are there any circumstances in which you feel auto DMs are acceptable?
Allan Barr is the head of digital & social media for The BIG Partnership, the largest PR and communications agency in the U.K. outside of London.
A version of this story first appeared on Allan Barr’s blog.