Are You Down With The AutoDM? Yeah-No, Not Me

While it might be great for promotional work, or if your account’s sole purpose is to broadcast updates for your brand, AutoDMs are not only deflating, but they send the wrong message to those who are trying to network with and forge productive relationships with others.

Put simply, an AutoDM a direct message that comes immediately after following someone, or when you say or do something on Twitter that causes an automated message to come your way.

While many AutoDMs are innocuous, the vast majority aren’t.  When I follow you, I’m following you because you create or share content that fascinates me.  While a follow can be preceded by a recommendation, ultimately, we follow because we’re interested.

AutoDMs exists in many forms:

  • If your AutoDM is to thank me, you’ll be more effective by pushing relevant content that I can share with my followers.
  • If your AutoDM functions as a call-to-action, or a prompt to purchase something, be sure you have a website where it can be found, and put that website link on your profile. As I browse your website, I will be looking for links to your other social media channels.
  • Many AutoDMs look personalized as the user reads the text, but it becomes apparent that it’s an automated message.  While creativity is encouraged, it’s put to better use by engaging your followers individually.

When you look at my Twitter profile, you will notice that I have three projects, all of which have their own Twitter accounts.

None of them send AutoDMs because despite them being projects, I will still engage conversation as those accounts because there is a human maintaining the projects and curating content for them.  The more relationships I can form with these projects, the more opportunities might come my way.  I’d rather you follow that project so that I can send you a personalized DM down the road.  If the project picks up a steady following, individualized DMs could become difficult, but relationships don’t form via automation.

The only times I would want to receive automated replies is if I’m opting into a service for that purpose, or if it’s an automated email to confirm that I’ve signed up for something, or a piece of marketing.  Those emails are meant to be informative and broadcast in nature.

It may sound repetitive, but the key to forging relationships and creating opportunities, is through networking.  Receiving an AutoDM not only stifles it, but causes me to question if you want to connect and network, or if you have an agenda.  If I reply to a tweet you send, are you just collecting replies, or are you going to engage them?

Readers will note my use of the #DownWithAutoDMs hashtag.  It’s a campaign of others who dislike receiving AutoDMs aiming to encourage others not to use them, and articulating a position to those that do use them.

Here are my suggestions to replace those automated messages:

  • While it’s nice to thank people for following, tweeting relevant content and engaging in conversation speaks volumes.
  • Instead of messaging me about your latest project, put a link to this project on your Twitter profile as there’s a good chance I’ll view it before I follow.
  • There is nothing wrong with sending DMs, but be behind the keyboard when you type it.
  • If the automated message references a campaign or call-to-action, consider tweeting about it periodically while measuring relevant metrics.
  • Since this whole article has been about engaging with followers and building relationships, take stock of who is mentioning you or your brands and create meaningful dialogue to the extent that it’s not monopolizing all of your time.
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