Effectively Using Twitter Direct Messages – But What About Auto DM?

Have you ever noticed that I tend to not shy away from the more controversial social media marketing topics? This will be no exception as we tackle Twitter, Direct Messages and the automated DM message. This topic is one that is often polarizing within the social media community, broken into two main camps.

1) Anti-Automated Direct Message Folks – These folks are typically very passionate about social networking. They have very strong feelings about how it should be done. Their views are exclusive and either black or white, with little tolerance for anyone or anything outside of those beliefs. I find these are often the ones that attack and are extremely critical of others, both in and out of the social graph. Don’t try to please them, you never will.

Just posting that today’s blog would be about the topic spawned several opposition posts, like “Dislike those auto DMs. I usually unfollow folks who use them.” and “(It’s a BIG no no)”. These were from social media people too. Seriously? That’s like a professional singer not engaging with their potential fans/purchasers of their music because the fans don’t sing well… Shaking head!

2) Active Auto Direct Message Users – This group is the other side of the spectrum. They hammer out automated DM’s left and right. There are typically two world views within this group – 1) Direct marketers that don’t care about etiquette or relationships and only care about right now and revenue. 2) The newer social media marketer/consultant that just wants results and have seen others do it, so they are too.

The problem with Active Auto DM users, in the second category, is that they do not have the experience and understanding to make those auto DMs effective. They are doing what they have seen and assume it must work because others are doing it. So they set up automated DM messages about their client, their fanpage or product and hope for the best.

Me? I fall somewhere in between these two polarized camps. Rather than get into the details of each of the camps and their valid or often invalid views, I wanted to give you some insights on how to use Twitter DM’s effectively, both auto and manual.

There are two Twitter DM types to focus on:

1) Automated DM’s – Here is a secret… I use Auto DM’s on my personal account. But it’s HOW I use them that makes the difference. Why? I definitely want to thank everyone of my new followers and I can no longer do that manually since it averages about 150 per day. If you are going to use Auto DM’s here is what I suggest:

What I DON’T do – I do not pitch, send to my website or try to sell anything in my auto DM message.

What I always do – I thank in a unique, authentic way and give them an opportunity to connect with me in other ways.

Here is my Auto DM message:  Honored to connect with ya! Thanx for the follow. Here are all my connection points: http://ow.ly/6vl7s Socially yours, Robert

Be simple, inviting and never pitch. Social media marketing is about building relationships. You need to have a relationship before you pitch. Pitching at the very moment you connect hurts you, not helps you. I receive both DM replies and in feed comments about my DM frequently that are HIGHLY positive. The image in this post show’s one of those comments from @itgalnwn.

2) DM Opportunities – There are several business and relationship building opportunities within the Twitter Direct Message platform. I am shocked how often I speak to people that never take advantage of DM’s. Here are a few ways we use them effectively:

a) Responding to DM’s to spark conversation – Look for manual or auto DM’s that warrant a reply. I read every single DM that comes in and look for opportunities to connect, engage, start conversations and build relationships.

b) Taking a conversation out of news feed – When you have an interested prospect or follower, be open to taking the conversation into the Direct Messaging system. This can allow you to get into more detail without them fearing others knowing they are interested in what you do. It removes the magnifying glass of the social graph and becomes one on one. This often helps your prospect drop their walls and open up.

c) Making yourself more human and approachable – Many social media accounts ignore all DM’s. Being the account that always responds, automatically makes you more human and approachable. A great starting point for a relationship!

d) Setting appointments and demo’s with prospective customers – I often move conversations to DM to ask for an appointment and/or a demo call. Similarly to “c” above, this is a very effective way to get more personal and ask for the sale or appointment, without the pressure of the open feed on them.

The wrap up word:

All of what I have put in this post are things I do and have made effective without being annoying or intrusive. It is free advice and worth every penny. The focus is to help facilitate your thinking toward opening your mind and staying clear of hard line approaches to social media.

Unfollowing  a potential client that uses social media wrong or different than you is just plain poor business. You are hurting YOU, not them. Do you want to be right, or do you want to be rich? Get off your arrogant high horse and lead, help and build relationships with those that need you and your service. It’s not about YOU!

P.S. If you are a troll that just want to argue about DM’s, I respect your opinion, I just disagree. I will not get sucked into an argument. You are free to have your opinion, this is mine…


32 thoughts on “Effectively Using Twitter Direct Messages – But What About Auto DM?

  1. This is a great post. I’m on the dislike auto DM’s side but point C above has made me rethink that. Building relationships is the goal and shutting the door just because of an auto DM is bad practice. Thanks for the insight.

  2. I tend to be on the anti auto-DM spectrum. I don’t unfollow because of an auto DM, but I don’t actively engage those I receive auto DMs from

    I’m glad that you mentioned that you shouldn’t try to sell in a DM, that’s a big no-no with me, but I am also divided on whether I would put a link in, as you have done, asking for people to connect. While I don’t think anyone would unfollow due to a link saying here are all of my connections, it seems too self promotional.

    If I were to get into auto-DMs, I would send something saying “Hey there, i’m looking forward to your tweets” instead of selling my brand. Conversely, it was your auto-DM that started our conversation, so there are definitely uses for it.

    On the other hand, I absolutely unfollow someone that I can’t DM back on Hootsuite. Maybe this is an error in the ability for Hootsuite to update, but i’m lead to believe that their following program has not quite yet followed me as a user. I tend to give 24 hrs for this to kick in, but that (and true twit) are what really upset me about auto-DMs

    1. You are awesome buddy! Great comments and love that my DM got us talking to begin with. That’s it’s intent. As for link to other connections, I was getting asked 30 times a day for other connection points, this removed that and put the power in the hands of my followers. Very effectively!

    2. Hmm. That may not have all made sense.

      In summation, your post caused me to think differently on the benefits of DMing (Congratulations). This is probably because I have seen you pay-it-forward with your messages.

      And I really don’t like true-twit :)

  3. I used to fall into that category “I hate auto-DMS”, after speaking with you the other day and reading this post I am definitely rethinking this approach! :) Thanks Robert.

  4. Ah, the Social Media Snob ~ “If I unfollow you, it will ruin your life, your pet will fall ill, and no one else will ever follow you on twitter again because I am That powerful!” Um… Really? Not quite :)

    I too, use a very simple auto DM and have received very positive feedback. There is no link in my DM ~ “Just a sincere thank you for the follow”
    Because I believe anyone who actively takes time out of their day to click that follow button on my profile deserves a thank you.

    Thanks for the common sense break down, Robert ~ ’bout time someone said it :)

    1. Thank you Phaedra!

      I think the reason other “name” folks don’t write this stuff is because they don’t want people to know what they are doing, why they do it or if in fact they even know why. I think sharing these snippets are helpful for others and I am committed to helping this way.

      I appreciate you!


  5. I guess the fact the vast majority of people misuse Twitter DMs brought me to not even consider them a viable communication option. I may be wrong, and I think you make valid points about WHAT to send in a DM, but I also think a social network like Twitter has really no use for DMs at all, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they will be heavily modified or removed entirely from some future version.

    1. Oh I so disagree. I do a ton of business on Twitter via DM. Like really a lot. I suggest rethinking your view to find the opportunities.

      Thanx for jumping in Gabriele!

  6. Personally I’m a fan of DM’s if they are used to spark conversation as that ultimately is the start of the relationship. They should never be used to pitch the latest and not so greatest product someone is offering. After all if we are not proactive in building relationships on Twitter, what’s the point of using it?

  7. Your auto DM is one of the few that haven’t made me cringe, so for that, I thank you! If more people/marketers/etc. could use these in a productive, inviting way, I think the stigma against auto DMs could be lifted.

    Also, I’d like to add that auto DMs should fit your personality – or at least the Twitter bio. I once followed a woman that listed things like content marketing and social media in her bio. When I followed her, I got an auto DM that said: “Thank you for connecting. Take some time and tell me all about your spiritual journey in life.”

    Uhh…what? It said nothing about self-discovery or spirituality in her Twitter bio or in any of her recent tweets. That was weird. Really weird.

  8. I’m not keen on auto-Dms but only because they tend to be so clinical and out of step with real engagement. I do like the way you have your welcome message laid out though – let’s hope more people look at it the way that you do and personalize it a little more!

  9. Robert, you renegade! LOL I’m so glad you shared this post! I am one of those people who DMs every new follower personally, and I have begun to worry about spending my entire days thanking my increasing numbers of followers without resorting to a one size fits all, sterile sounding auto DM. Now I see that, with a little creative thinking, an auto DM can be used very effectively. Thank you for once again riding in to the rescue! :-)

  10. Thanks for this conversation. I can see how a good auto DM as a basic thank you is fine. But in general I want to communicate with a person. My favorite auto DM was from someone who followed me. I DM’d back to thank them for the follow and to tell the person that I was following them back. I got a nice auto DM back that said, “There’s no end to the happiness this wishes YOU!!!” I replied and said–that’s a great DM message to which I got the exact same message back again, “There’s no end to the happiness this wishes YOU!!!” now I’m laughing and feeling like I’m talking to Hal! And the person doesn’t have that many followers. Wishing him well but probably won’t be making any effort to communicate with him.

    It is a delicate dance, isn’t it?

  11. Totally agree w/ you Robert! I used to auto-DM all new followers, but took so much grief from those ‘in the know’ that I stopped. Now I try to acknowledge w/ a RT or convo. But it’s impossible to keep up. And since I can’t possibly follow everyone back, new followers are often ignored. Hmmmm what to do now?

  12. I like using the DM for taking a conversation and relationship to the next level. As I think you know, I am not a big fan of auto-DMs. I am curious though. Do you track the click through rate? If you get approximately 150 new followers a day how many people are clicking on this link. How often do you get a response to your auto-DM?

    I understand that it is difficult to greet all of your new followers through a tweet. I don’t even get half as many as you and I am not always great about it, but I think greeting someone through a tweet is more effective.

    Great post Robert!

  13. Good read, Robert. We’ve not traditionally been fans of the Auto DM but agree that it can be useful if not just a pitch. Like your perspective.

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