Are you talking to me? 6 reasons why using an auto DM to thank a new follower is a BAD idea

published on February 14, 2011 in Social Media

People like talking to other people, not answer-machines.

Remember the old saying “you only have one chance at making a good first impression“? Well, in most cases, using Auto DM (Direct Message) to thank someone who just started following you on Twitter IS NOT the right way to make that all important GOOD first impression.

6 reasons why Auto DMs are a bad idea (in 99% of the case)

  1. It is NOT introducing yourself. Twitter – just like any other type of networking, whether it’s online or in real life – is about creating a relationship with another person (you could say “engage”, but I will spare you any social media buzzword this time…). Have you ever attended business breakfast meetings? Now imaging someone just sent a tape recorder that would play a generic message regardless of who their audience was. Auto DM to new followers are exactly the same as playing that tape recorder during your 30 seconds introduction – it is not the right way to introduce yourself to a potential new business contact!
  2. It DOES NOT make you sound like you care. Remember: Twitter is nothing more than people networking and sharing information online. Using auto DM to thank me isn’t showing me you care, on the contrary! Do you really have so many new followers per day that you can’t take 30 seconds to look at my profile and say something meaningful? Then don’t say anything!
  3. I DO NOT like talking to a robot. By following you, I indicate that I am interested in what you are saying. If I wanted to talk to a machine, I would simply have picked up the phone and called my broadband provider or my bank – because all I really want is to know that “my call is important to them”!
  4. It IS an inconvenience. Are you saying anything worthwhile reading, or simply:

    Thank you for following me. We do this and that and the other, so please visit our website to find out more.

    Thank you for the follow. We use Twitter to talk about our company, our products and our services, and nothing else. Please give us your business!

    Are you offering anything of value to me, or simply taking up my time, and filling up my inbox, with your unwanted, unsolicited message? This has a name. It’s called spam!

  5. It MAY just show your lack of understanding of what Twitter, networking or even doing business is about. Forget what you may have read in some $4.95 ebook, building a successful Twitter account takes time. Just like you wouldn’t expect to build a successful business by working on it 5 minutes a day, don’t expect to become a Twitter success story by spending less than an hour on it every single day, interacting with people you follow, and the people who follow you. 1 hour of actually talking with other people – not setting up auto tweets for your new followers.
  6. It just makes me want to UNFOLLOW you: all the above reasons might just have cost you the trust I had put in you when I started following you resulting in me pressing the unfollow button.
  7. What about the remaining 1%?

    Glad you asked. On some – rare – occasions, auto DM are a suitable option to greet new followers by offering them something of value to them.

    • Really reward your new followers:
      • An online promo code: if you have an online shop, or are a travel agent, airline, car rental company…
      • A link to an offline promotion (pdf) to print and take to your place of business: restaurant, hairdressers, local IT shop…
      • A link to an ebook (not the $4.95 type), something interesting where the follower can download it directly without having to enter their email address;
    • Provide useful information:
      • Updates on something disrupting your business: airline or railway strike, snow;
      • Dedicated telephone line for Twitter users who would like to call;
    • Say something really personal totally unrelated to your business, like a fundraising event you want people to be aware of;

    Here are a couple of example (under 140 characters) that you could use as well:

    Existing client? Here’s a code that will give you 5% off your next purchase. Code: 12XYZ . Not a client? The code works for you as well :)

    Weather disruption may affect your travel plans, and we sincerely apologies for that. We aim to reply to all tweets within 2 hours.

    In Summary

    Even if brand new Twitter users might be indifferent when they receive Auto Tweets (they appreciate having some activity in their timeline), I would bet that almost everybody else thinks Auto DMs are annoying. Therefore only use one if it really provide something of value to your new follower.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Adrienne February 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Hi Léo,

Well, I know that people may have an issue with DM’s but I personally think that they are a wonderful idea. My DM contains a link to access my bubble tweet which personally introduces them to who I am and I invite them to join me on FB so that we can get to know each other much better. Have had a LOT of comments on my bubble tweet so I KNOW it works. That’s my take on that at least…

Enjoyed the post though and thanks for pointing this out. I do know from experience that I get a lot of junk in DM’s and the majority of them consist of trying to get me to buy something. Not good and it’s the best way to get yourself unfollowed real quick… :-)



netaccountant February 14, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Hi Adrienne, it’s good to see you here.
Thank you for your feedback on your own experience with auto DM to new Twitter followers… I guess yours may fall under the “say something personal” which people may be OK with. To be honest the 2-3 auto tweets that prompted this blog post were “mediocre” in terms of communicating something of value or even simply something that could have interested me.

[off to see what yours does :)]


Edwin February 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

All your points are valid but auto DM’s are more convenient and the other person wont know the difference if you really DM them or not


netaccountant February 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Hi Edwin, not sure how you can write an automated DM so that it doesn’t “sound” automated – care to share your secrets?


Edwin February 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Well make it mostly about them, maybe ask a question, say thanks
Edwin also wrote 26 Ways To Download YouTube Videos Off Of The Web


Brad Harmon from Big Feet Marketing
February 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Awesome points, Leo. I used to send a thank you DM because I wanted to genuinely thank the people that followed me. When my Twitter inbox became filled with everyone else’s spam DMs, I realized how annoying my thank you was to the person to whom I was sending it. My DM was just another one of the many that flooded their inbox too.

Thanks for sharing your ideas on how to use DMs properly.
Brad Harmon @ Big Feet Marketing also wrote Who’s Online Talking About You


Self Publishing Blog
February 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

I disagree with you. When you’re account gets thousands of followers a day, you CANNOT respond to everyone. Simply not worth it. A DM from for instance SocialOoomph may just be a touch you need to tell the person ‘thank you for following me’ and that’s it. I don’t think it’s spam. Then you shouldn’t be using an autorespsonder and send every business email by hand.

Automated software is designed so you can free up your time to focus on important business things. Not that this is not important – but if I don’t have the time to respond to every follower, my DM gives a touch that I DO care.

It’s like the WWSGD plugin: if someone commented for the first time you thanks him for coming to the blog, commenting and you hope to see him soon. Hardly spam. You cannot do that with thousands of comments coming in everyday, and how are you going to remember who has been here before and who hasn’t, not offending your readers/customers.

Not really practical.
Self Publishing Blog also wrote Mubarak steps down – Is a Google Revolution Viable


netaccountant February 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm

You raise some interesting points Ivin:
1. thousands of new followers a day : not many Twitter accounts can make that claim, but even if it did, I still think that is is best NOT to DM someone rather that do it in an automated fashion. We get already get bombarded by all types of marketing message and this is just another unwanted message simply because I clicked a “button” on a website.

2. A personal DM might show that you DO care, an automated message just shows that you don’t have time (as you rightly said) to send a message to your followers, so better not to send anything (in my view). Twitter auto messages to new followers shouldn’t be used as a blanket solution and cannot replace real interactions with people (followers in that case).

3. I agree that thanking a commenter on your blog with an automated message might be appropriate because they took the time to create something of value on your blog and you need to keep track of that important first comment. By following someone, I simply clicked a button, I don’t expect to be thanked for it (took me half a second!).

I am not saying that all DMs are wrong, but auto DM simply to thank a follow should only be used in specific situations: to offer something of REAL value to the follower, not just a “thank you”


Self Publishing Blog
February 24, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I still don’t think a DM is a bad idea, but I have rights to many ebooks and tools. Perhaps I could give away something with the DM to make it nice. But do you think I could still give the url to my site it it?
Self Publishing Blog also wrote Book Marketing- Radio Interview Tips


netaccountant March 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Even if I think that many e-books are pretty much worthless, may be your best one could be sent to your new followers. I would guess it all depends on the real value of it and how close it is to their particular situation – but also as I mentioned before, I don’t think you should ask them for their email again, so may be have another way to get them to sign-up once they have read it.


Marie from Managed Hosting Los Angeles March 1, 2011 at 12:53 am

In a society and market where it seems everyone’s managed to be an “internet blogger” of some sort, auto responses definitely is not the way. You’re right; people don’t like answering machines (and I certainly don’t like voicemails.) I think, even if you have to pay someone to do it, that you should try to be personable with your content and responses. It creates a good connection with your follower or customer.


netaccountant March 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Thanks for your Feedback Marie. Paying someone to build you profile can be an option, but make sure that both your personalities match, as it could be a shock to some of your followers if you decide to take over the account later on.


Daniel from Appointment Setters March 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm

We were about to install auto DM into our company blog but one of my friends who is well versed with the technical matters suggested me not to. Though I listened to him, I was still having the idea of an auto DM nagging me because I thought it would be impressive if a visitor got quick response and he might be a potential customer for me ! However, by then, we started encouraging visitors to email us or contact us via phone. And strangely enough, as you have said, overtime I got to understand that people want real people to interact with and not any robots or machines. Your post reminded of that again ! Thanks.
Daniel@Appointment Setters also wrote The Art of Appointment Setting – Chapter 3 Lead Generation – Pitch-Script-Call Guide Development


netaccountant March 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Hi Daniel, Thank you for the feedback on your own experience, and glad you chose not to use auto-DM to thank people you just started following you. It’s true that the keyword in “social media” is social, and the best way to show that you are a social animal is to create human interaction with your followers.


Ben Lang March 2, 2011 at 2:50 am

Yeah I remember when auto-DM was considered a good idea. Unfortunately it was abused and became pure spam. Not a good idea anymore.


netaccountant March 2, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Hi Ben, good to see you here… yes just like the meta keywords tag, it’s been abused and now it is a bad idea / worthless.


Keith Davis from Public Speaking and Presentation Skills March 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Hi Leo
Nothing worse than those automated messages thanking you for your comment and usually asking you to subscribe to something or other.
I send all my new commenters a thank you email, but it’s short, it’s genuine and it’s from me.

Nice little post Leo.
Keith Davis@Public Speaking and Presentation Skills also wrote Great Speeches in Films


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