Just like talking about religion at a cocktail party, or mistakenly asking an overweight friend when their baby is due, sending an automatic direct message (DM) to a new Twitter follower is one of those things we're told you should never do, but people do all the time anyway.
It's been this way for years, even though...
...endless blog posts have been written about how much people dislike auto-DMs, like...
...stats have been posted showing their ineffectiveness...
...and even Twitter themselves caution against using them:
Including an automated “thanks for following” message to your new followers might be annoying to some users. We do not recommend, but generally do not regulate, this behavior; if you receive a DM you don’t like, you can un-follow that user and they will no longer be able to send you messages.
So, the big question is: if everyone hates auto-DMs so much, why do they still exist?
Either auto-DM's are producing a return for some people or the people tweeting them do not understand how the messages are perceived. Both rationales could stand to have some holes poked in them.
Auto-DMs probably seem like a logical marketing response to someone following you on Twitter.
What many people do not understand however, is that someone following you on Twitter isn't an action to which a marketing response is necessarily warranted.
As far as a return is concerned, the reality is that most people don't see a huge return on auto-DMs (see blog posts above for some of the reasons why.)
But, as with all social media metrics, the real answer on determining return is, "that depends..."
No, auto-DMs are not evil -- just like cockroaches are not evil. Both exist (and are hard to kill) for a reason. They both have a place in our ecosystem, whether we want them there or not.
But, think long and hard about auto-DMs before you send them. Because, at the end of the day, our first response...our primal response...to a cockroach is to squash it on sight.
DM the wrong thing to your followers and you could find yourself quickly squashed, too.
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.