Automatic Direct Messages (Auto DMs) are tweets that are sent out as private messages when someone follows someone else on Twitter. As far as I know, Twitter is the only social media platform that has ever had these automated messages. Something that was once a convenience thing has backfired–it has become an inconvenience, an annoyance, and something that is trying to be undone by Twitter.
When they first came out they were super cool and everyone who was cool had to have one. Because of the spammers and the spam problem, they’re not-so-cool.
Where Do They Come From?
Social media management platforms such as Social Oomph, TweetAdder, and JustUnfollow have these come with the package or for a small fee. Consequently, they are not very hard to set up.
Last but not least, setting up the automatic DMs also come with the little handy-dandy link shortener so it’s easy to stick a link in there.
It’s a set it and forget it type thing.
Ready, Get Set, Spam!
Due to the ease of set up and set it and forget it, it’s so very easy to set up to spam so to speak. Some are just following the crowd or simply uninformed. Since Twitter has become the dense jungle of spam, keeping up with what is considered spam will help you keep good with Twitter and other tweeps. We are there to connect and develop relationships, not spam.
Since this auto DM situation has become such a problem, even these without links are being ignored or viewed as spam by others. Some research has been done by professionals to find this be true among normal, everyday users.
The auto DM with a link or links is the most insidious. Different people have their own variations of how this appears. For me it is like welcoming you to the neighborhood after you just moved in and asking someone asking you to buy something from their child’s fundraiser in the same conversation when you don’t even know them,. Or even asking for a cup of sugar. Or both. How would this make you feel? This is a real-world example of what this looks like. Even if it’s a favor that is just a sign of courtesy, that feels awkward, doesn’t it? If R. Lee Ermey lived at this house I may have to drop down and do 25…
The two programs that have the most annoying DMs with links are TrueTwit and JustUnfollow. TrueTwit is a bot that asks you if you are a bot. To me this appears as R. Lee Ermey coming out on the font deck yelling, “Identify yourself!” with thrusting finger and all. I just wanted to come by and say hello. I don’t feel very welcome. I wonder if he has a gun. I may just excuse myself with my tail between my legs like I had been shot at.
JustUnfollow is probably a good program for the other things it does, but unless it lets you forgo the auto DM not so much (I don’t use it). Case in point it has a link to hawk their program and someone can also add a link to their stuff. So, then it becomes hawking two different people’s stuff. Not cool.
Before the winds changed Social Oomph had the coolest auto DM function (I used it when it was cool). You could choose between 2 or more different messages that would also rotate. It used to be free before the spammers ran with it, so not it’s pay to play. After it wasn’t cool any more I ditched it. I never had a link in the DM when I had them, and I had been given advice that it was a good idea to have a welcome DM with a branded message by someone I casually/kinda-sorta worked with. After the change in the wind I ditched it.
Social Oomph also has an opt out program I learned from Rachel Thompson. Just follow @OptMeOut. That should help you with the spam coming from Social Oomph at least. A little help is better than none.
Social Oomph is a good program to use for other functions like scheduling posts, but just omit the Autofollowback and Auto DMs!
How to Show a Tweep some Goodwill?
It’s up for debate on how to welcome a new follower. You don’t have to send a DM at all or welcome them on the stream. If you do and it’s all “Thank Yous”, people may get bored an leave.
How to reward your tweeps:
- Follow them Back
- List them
- Retweet something of theirs that you like
- Provide them with good content
- Respond to them when they mention you
It’s actually unnecessary to have an automatic DM. So if you have one, ditch it now. If you absolutely must insist on keeping your auto DM, get rid of the link or come up with something better than: “Thanks for the follow. I am looking forward to your tweets.” Lame and boring. Come up with something fun or a conversation starter.
It’s best to omit it completely, but if you have to have one, I hope the tips above will be a bit more tolerable than. “Hello, thanks for the follow. Buy and like my crap!”