Auto Direct Messages - Bane or Blessing?

For many internet marketers, Twitter Auto Direct Messages are the bane of their existence. They're a constant, virtually unavoidable issue, which has led many to completely ignore their Twitter inbox and forget about the feature.

But what if they're wrong? What if there's an incredible benefit and blessing inherent to being able to automatically welcome new Twitter followers?

We're going to explore that today, so I ask you to keep an open mind, and be willing to have your pre-existing notions dissuaded, and the wisdom of so many experts shattered.

What Are Twitter Auto Direct Messages?

Like many social networks, Twitter offers the ability for users to send direct, private messages to other users. They're referred to as 'Direct Messages' or 'DMs' for short.

But, unlike other networks, Twitter's API (programming interface) allows third-party tools to automatically trigger a direct message anytime someone new follows you.

So, simply put, you can use a tool to automatically welcome new followers.

Sounds great, right? I mean, we do that with our email lists and customers already, don't we? Someone signs up for our newsletter or online service, and we set things up to automatically email them and welcome them, perhaps giving them additional information or links to follow.

And recently, Twitter removed the 140-character limit from direct messages making it possible for you to send far more interesting and detailed messages to your new followers.

So what's the problem? Auto DM's sound great, don't they?

The problem is that too many people have no earthly idea what they should be doing with Auto DMs. At best, they send nonsense. At worst, they fill your Twitter messages queue with spammy links and sales messages. It's a travesty, but one that we can all work together to overcome.

What Shouldn't You Auto DM?

What's that nonsense look like, you ask? Well, if you've used Twitter and followed a bunch of people, you probably don't need me to tell you, but here are a few examples that I've received, and some ludicrous messages.

  • "Thanks for following!"
  • "Follow me on X, Y or Z other social network."
  • "Buy X, Y or Z"
  • "Please retweet some of my tweets"
  • "What can we do for you?"
  • Other random, surface questions, like, "how long have you been on Twitter?"
  • "Do you use Twitter for business or pleasure or both?"
  • Hashtags
  • Multiple DMs in succession
  • Multiple DMs from different tools
  • Verification DMs
  • A link with no additional information or context
  • Too much business language, like, "With this connection, we should explore opportunities for greater synergy."

First, many people will find a tool that promises to automatically welcome their new followers, and then never change the default direct message. Or they skimp and use a free tool that includes an advertisement or mention of the tool in the message.

If you're hoping to make a positive impression on a potential client, let me just say that free tools probably aren't going to do the job!

While you're at it, make sure that you pick one tool... every day I get at least one Twitter user who has set up auto DMs using two or more tools, so I get multiple auto DMs from them.

Hashtags do not work, so unless you're including a hashtag to be funny, don't.

A new Twitter follower, generally speaking, is like someone you just met at a party. Would you immediately ask them to do something for you? Buy something from you? This is a new relationship and, as such, you need to proceed slowly and carefully. You need to court them by sharing great content and information over time, and give them opportunities to engage with you.

Be. Patient.

Don't ask me to verify my account, follow you on a different social network, or jump through any other hoops. You haven't yet earned an ask.

What Should You Auto DM?

So, now that we have an idea of what you shouldn't be doing, what should you consider sending new followers?

First, it's certainly OK to send nothing at all. Someone who follows you on Twitter is not expecting a welcome message or looking for one. If you aren't completely sure that your auto dm will be welcomed and appreciated, skip it.

That said, this could be a golden opportunity to open a dialogue with someone, particularly if you're actively ramping up your targeted Twitter followers (a topic we will be digging into in our next article).

Consider crafting a message that keeps the following points in mind:

  • Is warm and welcoming
  • Is personal, without being artificially personalized
  • Is targeted
  • Is helpful

The artificial personalization I'm referring to is how some tools will allow you to @mention the new follower or even try to use their first name in the automated message. Don't do that.

Instead, think about the kinds of people who are following you on Twitter and what you can do to help them. Can you start a nice conversation with a real, honest question? Can you offer them something that isn't a sales pitch or all about you?

What can you say to someone new that makes them feel welcome, and that you're genuinely interested in them?

That's what your automatic direct messages should be about. Make it about your new followers, and they'll appreciate it.

Here's a fun, lighthearted example from @BrandalizmTV:

"Ahhhhhgh! Not an automated message! I hate that. Tell you what, let's work together to get through this awkward social situation I've created - if you drop me a 'hey man' or even just a quick 'hi', I'll reply and we can get this relationship off to a proper start and put this whole thing behind us."

How To Set Up A Twitter Auto DM

As I mentioned earlier, there quite a few tools to choose from if you want to send auto DMs, many of them free. However, I strongly recommend choosing a tool where, for a few bucks, you can make sure that your messages are customizable and completely unbranded.

For that, I recommend SocialOomph. [affiliate link]

I've written about SocialOomph before, about how great it is for maintaining that constant presence you need to have on Twitter by storing up a queue of all your best blog posts to share on a preset schedule. That's something you can do with the Professional or Twitter Unlimited plans. To auto DM though, you'll need to add the Auto-DM upgrade for just $2.97 every two weeks.

Once you've upgraded your account, log in and go to Following, then Follow Back & Auto Welcome.

Configure Follow-Back and Auto DM within SocialOomph

For each Twitter account that you've connected, you can configure a different set of welcome messages. And with SocialOomph's customization capability, you can add some randomization to your messages so that you're not sending the exact same message over and over to new followers (something Twitter will give you grief about).

On the Configure Follow Back and Auto Welcome page, you can check whether you want this account to automatically follow back new followers (not recommended), and enter the text for your welcome message.

Within the text field, you can enter whatever you want to say, of course. If you want to include a link to a page or resource, you can do that too, just remember what we talked about above! Be as helpful and engaging as possible.

To configure multiple messages, enclose all of your text in curly brackets like {this} and then separate different messages with a | character. Like this:

{ Hello World! | Hi World! | Hello my worldly friend! }

Each time you got a new follower, SocialOomph would randomly select one of those three messages and send it as a direct message.

Of course, you're going to come up with better messages, right?

Want to know what I do? Of course you do. You could follow me on Twitter to find out, or, just check out my next article which includes the tools I'm using to target and add new followers, exactly what I use for an auto DM, and how I'm using it to explode my Twitter and Email Subscriber growth: How To Build A Massive, Engaged Twitter Following.

To make sure you don't miss others like it, subscribe to my email list. You won't regret it!

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Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner

Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, award-winning Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.

Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."


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