Do you send automated direct messages to your new Twitter followers? If so, you are contributing to the slow, torturous, semi-death of this social network.
Spam is Spam
While auto-DMs may seem like a smart business move, the strategy is eroding your reputation and the ability for the social network to thrive overall. User engagement on a large scale is critical if a social network aims to build valuable audiences that can be categorized and targeted. It’s difficult to run screamingly successful ad campaigns on a social network that is lacking in engaged users. Without a solid advertising value proposition, Twitter will continue to flounder in the eyes of Wall Street and Main Street.
Auto-DMs, like spam emails, tend to bury legitimate messages in a pile of junk. The volume of auto-DMs increases with the volume of “follows” making the message center less usable as the user expands their presence on Twitter. The experience is like having yet another email inbox to wade through. If power users haven’t disabled email notifications based on message activity, a second inbox is cluttered simultaneously. The junk pile can escalate quickly, obscuring actual messages and opportunities to build relationships on Twitter.
Users are fickle and have little patience for poor app experiences. The addition of junk DMs to Twitter’s simple message center can be enough to keep highly active Twitter users from taking advantage of one-to-one communication through the app altogether.
Does this mean communication does not take place? No way. It just takes place outside of Twitter… When messages from actual followers with real questions or comments go unanswered, the likelihood of future communication through the channel is nonexistent. This does not bode well for Twitter in the grand scheme of social network wellbeing.
Do Unto Others
Auto-DMs are not only numerous, they tend to lack any real value. In most cases, the user did not request these messages. The message often demands that the user take an action for the sender’s benefit. “Like me on Facebook!” “Download this eBook” “Register for this Conference”
Opening these message s is a bit like staring at the gaping mouths of baby birds.
The antidote here is simple. See your posts through the eyes of the recipient. Don’t worry about what you want the recipient to do. Consider what the person opening your message will think. And be honest with yourself. How would you respond to these messages:
Don’t be an accomplice to Spam. If an app allows you to spam people under the guise of auto-Welcome messages in order to use a feature for free, there’s a problem.
Don’t be presumptuous. You didn’t “decide to give” me an opportunity. This type of message can morph from spammy to scammy in a heartbeat.
Don’t be a total robot. Just, why? There is absolutely no purpose for this message. Authentic thanks don’t usually come with “Auto Reply” as the lead. Strange, right?
Don’t forget to build a relationship before making a request. You can easily learn that I am an avid reader. But, the tone of this message is “I don’t really care, here’s some stuff I want you to do.”
Marketing Automation is Not Auto-Pilot
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Hitting the easy button in social media marketing is generally a fool’s errand. It is easy to create the appearance of a thriving account. Social media performance data can be manipulated in all sorts of ways and data (followers and their actions) can be generated in ways that are completely unrelated to business goals.
As a rule of thumb, ensure that any auto-message’s relationship to broader business and marketing strategies are significant enough to warrant the mass message. “Thank you for following” is generally unhelpful, but what if your brand wants to drive traffic to a different or new channel? A “thank you” message may now be the perfect time to alert the recipient that the active community is actually in a different place.
Who’s Doing it Well?
Some messages can be automated beautifully on Twitter. For example, auto responses from custom service channels outside of standard business hours can help consumers resolve issues through whichever channel is best suited to the situation and time.
I’m sure there are examples of inspired auto-DMs that would change my perception. Do you have examples of auto-DMs that defy the SPAM mold? I’d love to see them and celebrate the creativity.
In the meantime, let’s slow down on the auto-DM spam and help Twitter out, alright?