How A PR Professional Screws Up A Social Media Connection

A while back, I was going through my Twitter feed and reading posts when I came across a post discussion with a PR professional.  I went to review their Bio and feed to see who it was and if they seemed an interesting person to follow.

Their Twitter Bio read something to the effect of; Public Relations and Social Media Consultant. Pro Blogger, etc, etc.  So I went ahead and followed the individual, as their Bio seemed to portray someone savvy enough about PR and Social Media to consult others.

So, regardless of the fact that they only follow less than 500 people and had fewer than that following them, I decided to engage them.  Like many people who follow me, who are interesting, I extended an invite to my PERSONAL Facebook and other profiles.  I do this because Facebook and other networks can provide varied environments for getting to know someone beyond just Twitter.

Shortly after sending my brief DM to this individual, I received the following response.

“Social Media Expert. I have a rule Auto DM asking me to connect on Facebook get unfollowed.  Get a website or blog.  Be real.”

This from a professional PR/Social Media Consultant and a purported “Pro Blogger”.

I politely replied with something to the effect of: “As a matter of fact I am real. I would be very careful how you DIS engage new followers on Twitter (insert person’s name). “  Since they had already unfollowed, I decided to go ahead and call them out with the same message in my feed.

So, this little post is just a little reminder that not everybody who consults or says they are a pro at Social Media are.  If you are a PR Professional, be careful that your previous attitudes and quirks aren’t brought into the Social space.  If you are new to Social Media and are coming from another profession, be patient with people and make sure you know what you know.  Realize that at the heart of Social Media is the Human. Would you assume things and kill a business relationship like that outside of the social graph? I think not!

Why would anyone want to hire a Public Relations “Pro” or Social Media “Consultant” that so quickly burns a connection so flippantly? Don’t shoot yourself in the foot!


46 thoughts on “How A PR Professional Screws Up A Social Media Connection

    1. blows me away every day how “professionals” push their opinions on others and shoot themselves in the process. Crazy is a great word for this Sherry…

  1. Thankfully, this type of person self-selects for the Social Media trash heap. But, I mean really? Why would someone do something like that. It makes no sense to alienate someone so quickly. It does, however, serve as a good reminder to the rest of us to be polite. Thanks Robert.

  2. I’m curious if you had invited him to your website or blog instead of Facebook what his response would be. You know, since a website and blog make you more real apparently than the 10-20 some posts you make and engage on daily.

    I’ll admit, I was annoyed by auto DMs when I first started but so many people use them, and like you said, you never know who’s on the other side.

    1. I don’t think it would have mattered with this and many other individuals in social media that create some hard fast rules for themselves and others. What a shame!

      1. If ’said person’ is in fact a social media expert/consult/etc. wouldn’t your social media presence have MORE weight than a blog or website? In the social media realm websites are a dime a dozen! Anyone can pay someone to throw up a snazzy wordpress hosted theme of glitz and glamour. Your social media content, how you engage, consistency online that is what measures a good follow ~ doesn’t it? Sadly everyone is jumping on the social media guru bandwagon if they’ve figured out how to convert their FB profile into timeline format these days, JEEZ!
        Yvonne Elm Hall

  3. Average users have long been turned off by automation. When someone finds out that all these people are automatically sending them spam, they don\’t like it. Twitter is the first network, game, or anything that I ever saw take a lenient stance on automation, but average users still don\’t like it when something is automated, whether it\’s against Twitter ToS or not.

    Automated DMs aren\’t a best practice. Since they\’re viewed negatively, I would advise people to not send any DMs to a new follower so it won\’t be interpreted as automation. I actually did a case study last year, and the results were very lopsided: There are more users unfollowing you due to receiving automated DMs than there are users actually reading your DMs, let alone acting on them.

    The thing with automation is if you do it right, no one can tell the difference (one of the beautiful things about Bundlepost). If you\’re automating Twitter DMs, you\’ve given yourself up.

    1. My view differs on this Adam, and I have written about it extensively. If giving someone the ability to connect where THEY want to is now considered spam, then we are all in a heap of trouble in Social Media.

      1. BundlePost: I’m with Adam.

        I agree with you that this “Pro” was deeply out of line. If it were me, I wouldn’t have followed through on the Facebook offer (My personal Facebook account is just that: Personal. I do not “Friend” colleagues, clients or any other sort of professional contact–but I recognize that that is my choice, and I certainly wouldn’t send anyone a nastygram about it.)

        However, on the more general issue of AutoDMs (or even non-AutoDMs sent shortly after the mutual follow): By following you on Twitter, hasn’t someone *already* indicated that where they want to connect with you is Twitter? If your tweets engage them going forward, they may seek out additional connection. But sending them an autoDM (I know yours wasn’t)–with information that should already be in your bio–seems, yes, spammy. As a user I am highly inclined to unFollow users who send me any sort of AutoDM (or, frankly, any DM within a day or so of the follow), doubly so one with a link. Worst was the company that sent me the AutoDM offer to download their free book–but of course the link didn’t lead to a direct download page but a form asking for a lot of information to get me into their contact database. The message I got from that was: We don’t really want a conversation on Twitter, we just want to get your info so we can spam you. I didn’t try to school them, just quietly unFollowed.

      2. Never said anything about spam. Unlike you, I use DM’s from others, whether auto or otherwise as opportunities. We agree to disagree here, however I think my helpful and results oriented approach has plainly paid off both in numbers and ROI. This is plain to see.

        I decided a long time ago, I will instruct others and be helpful, rather than enforcing self-imposed rules on other people. This may seem harsh, but someday I think it’s important for people to realize that social media is not about YOU. Even when someone else does something out of etiquette norms.

        I appreciate the input and view.


    1. I don’t think “SHE” thought I was a bot. I think she was arrogantly trying to push her rules on me and show how smart she was about social media. Either way an epic fail resulted.

  4. These days I tend to run in the other direction as soon as someone declares themselves an “expert” or “pro” anything. Social media has made these terms overused and abused, imho. That being said, she clearly can’t be a PR pro because she forgot about the first rule of PR: know to whom you are talking. Clearly, Robert, you did not miss out on anything here. She, on the other hand, did–a real live reality check about how she said so much by saying so little.

      1. DM’s of any sort don’t bother me Yvonne. I look for opportunities in them, not some self-made rule that might cost me a relationship. Looking forward to hearing from you!


  5. It is madness how some ‘pros’ out there dismiss what can be the BEST ways to reach a younger audience!

    If you want to stay ahead of the game, talk to a teenager and latch onto their latest Social Media trends… But remember to notice the little places loosing popularity too; many new musicians would rather sell CDs in the pouring rain than use Myspace these days!

  6. I’m just amazed that people still find it acceptable to be so rude on social media. Yes, Auto DMs are annoying, but really its no different than exchanging business cards at the end of a meeting – its an invitation to engage, or at least, it’s more information.

    You wouldn’t throw a bit of card back in someone’s face. So why is it okay to do so online?

  7. lol… I am going to say something on both sides here… yes you are spot on – the response was very unsociable… but doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes think the same… (says she who has an auto thank dm – to try to strike a balance between missing saying thank you in a timely manner and being thought rude or even worse that I am ignoring them and is it rubbish to have an auto set up… hmm tricky one that) – anyway… back to the point in question… I actually dislike the ones that 1. attempt to sell something to me straight away… grrrr and 2. that have other links like liking fanpages and such… so maybe – he/she was having an off day and maybe….. your day was already coloured to read something more in to the response… after there is no tone on-line and you can very very easily misread one… saying all that – someone in PR should be more savvy and diplomatic… imho… :-)

  8. I’m not a fan of automated DM’s at all and I would have ignored yours. But I wouldn’t have offered the advice she did, either. I think the larger warning flag here is the ways she bills herself. I’ve actually seen people who call themselves social media experts and who are only following one person-probably themselves.

  9. This is a great reminder that just because someone is a self-proclaimed “expert” it doesn’t mean they really are. In the same context, I am always a little wary of people who have too quickly started to refer themselves as social media gurus or ninjas without the experience or results to back up that claim– in such a new medium we are all still learning and developing our skills. Thanks for the great post, Robert!

  10. I agree with the last commentator – there’s no such thing as a “social media expert.” This field evolves daily, and there’s absolutely no way one can become “an expert” overnight. We are all (i.e., professionals, who engage in SM in some regard) just learners – some more experienced, some less… And to push you way like that is a classic example of who we should immediately think of, next time Chrysler gets into a Twitter scandal… Great post, Robert!

  11. I’ve never understood why people get so upset over following and unfollowing. I could care less if people follow me back or not as I want followers who truly want to follow me not just people obsessed with how many followers they have. And I’m not following the people I follow just to get numbers I’m following because I saw something in their posts that I found interesting for some reason. So if you find me following you it’s just because I found you for at least some moment in time interesting!

    And I try to follow back those that follow me out of courtesy if nothing else even if I’m not sure about my interest in their posts. I think that’s the purpose of Twitter engagement and the free flow and sharing of ideas. That can’t happen if people don’t follow each other. So if you follow me I’ll follow you back. If you drop me most likely you’ll still find me following you as I don’t see how that affects the value of your posts.

    As to DM’s I’ve never found that auto DM’s did much besides annoy people. I know they annoy me but I wouldn’t unfollow someone just because they send me one or two DM’s auto or otherwise. So unless you’re truly a spammer or just one of those who post items that are offensive you’ll find me unaffected by your following or DM messaging habits. They have this cool X on my DM box I click it and whoosh your DM I don’t want is gone.

    Anyway I just wish people would grow up and use Twitter in the spirit it was intended. Twitter isn’t about numbers it’s about interaction. It’s not about you follow me or I’ll not follow you. It’s about sharing and learning about people and all the amazingly diverse of ideas and interests that exist in this thing called humanity.

    Obviously this “expert” just doesn’t get it and most likely he never will.

  12. I have received a few DM responses like that as well. Piggybacking off of Frank (don’t worry Frank, I won’t actually piggyback ride, I am far too heavy for that), I also have unfollowed people for various reasons and had those users send a nasty DM or call me out (often by an automated program that Tweets at people who unfollow) reprimanding me for following he or she. In these cases, I have to stop myself from replying because I instinctively want to fire off a response to set them in their place. However, I realize that me doing that is me imposing my social media ethics and rules upon then, which is what annoyed me about their DM or Tweet in the first place. So, I typically just giggle (yes, I am a grown man that will giggle from time to time) at their response and move on. I try not to be an emotional responder on Twitter. It seems to something that gets people in trouble, like sed “PR Professional.”

  13. That’s insane and is that how “they” really type to you? Social Media Expert (fullstop). What? I had a hard time trying to read what they just ‘typed’ to you. “Social Media Expert. I have a rule Auto DM asking me to connect on Facebook get unfollowed. Get a website or blog. Be real.” < The rest of the sentence just got more cringe-worthy. Sounds like Auto DM went wrong and boy, I hate Auto DMs. Yup, a PR professional indeed. *smirks

    Thanks for sharing this!

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