The “Turnabout is Fair Play” Strategy for Twitter Auto DMs


How often does this happen to you? You see you’ve been followed by someone. You check out their tweets, decide there’s enough there to warrant a return follow. Soon thereafter, Tweetdeck or email let you know you have a new DM. Oh joy!

It’s one of those damn auto-DMs. Often helpfully giving you links to some thing about which you care little.

Do people like getting these auto-DMs? Here’s a search on Twitter for ‘auto dms’:

Twitter search for 'auto dms'

And check out this FriendFeed discussion from last February. Tiring of these, a thought occurred to me. I can’t stop these auto-DMs. Why not respond in kind?

Send a “return-DM” to the auto-DMer.

I mean, the theory is that the auto-DM might include links you’re interested in. After all, you followed the person, right?

So I’m going to start sending a return-DM back to everyone that auto-DMs me. Note – I’m not going to auto-DM those that follow me. But I do want to make sure whoever takes the time to thoughtfully craft a personal auto-DM, gets the return favor.

My initial return-DM will be:

Hey, love your tweets! Here’s a post I think you’ll enjoy: Enterprise 2.0 and the Trough of Disillusionment http://bit.ly/YSBDk Rock on!

I’ll mix up the blog posts I include. It won’t stop the auto-DMs, but it’ll feel good letting the other person know I’m thinking about them.

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About Hutch Carpenter
Chief Scientist Revolution Credit

12 Responses to The “Turnabout is Fair Play” Strategy for Twitter Auto DMs

  1. dougcornelius says:

    I have gotten exactly two Auto DMs that were worth the eamil interruption.

    One was from @MassAGO (the Massachusetts Attorney General)with a link to their policy on how they use twitter. I found this very sensible for a government agency and sets some expectations. I think this is needed for a government agency.

    The second was from @Boston_police (The Boston police department) that linked to their policy. Most importantly it emphasized the need to use 911 and not Twitter for an emergency. Not something I had thought about. But a very common sense thought worth an auto reply DM.

    Most other auto reply DM end up with me changing the “Following” to a “Not Following”.

  2. Matt Hunter says:

    Frustrated with auto-DMs, I began replying to everyone who DM’ed me with questions about the links they sent. I wasn’t very scientific with my approach, but I found that about half answered my questions. I received the most responses from the individuals that I directly addressed by their real name.

    One person auto-DM’ed me with a link and his phone number. I called to personally thank him for the link and told him to let me know if he had any questions. He sounded caught off-guard and said that I was the first person to actually call him from an auto-DM.

    It would be interesting to track your reply links to see whether people perceive it as value or spam. Keep us posted!

    • I haven’t avoided the auto DM’s but won’t ignore those tag lines ie. SEO and since I’m in Direct Response Marketing Branding is a natural, but I can see how it would clean things up with you since many people utilize the term seo since it’s popular.

    • Matt – too funny. The reply DM strategy is one I think all of us should embrace. Even if one was to unfollow an auto-DMer, send out that reply DM before unfollowing.

  3. zarchasmpgmr says:

    I’ve somehow managed to avoid auto-DMs, but that’s because I block anyone who claims to be an Internet entrepreneur, SEO expert, branding consultant, or other buzzwords du moment.

    But what gripes me now are auto-replies. For example, a few days ago I replied to an ex-co-worker that it “had been two years since we were laid off from a former common employer”.

    The next day, boom – auto-reply of (paraphrased) “@zarchasmpgmr Out of a job? You might be interested in our resume service.”

    Er…no. Didn’t you read the tweet? Oh, no, you’ve got an non-contextual search bot and you’ve sent out a message that now makes others think I may be out looking for a job, even though I’m happily employed.

    I don’t mind auto-DMs if they are simple “thanks for following”, e.g., @raleysstores (regional supermarket chain), or if they have useful information. But nothing triggers my BS meter more than useless auto messages (and certain buzzwords du moment 😀 ).

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  5. Michael Jones says:

    An auto-DM to me is either insincere, or worse the trade-mark of a spammer. I have ‘unfollowed’ tweeps in the past for using them.

    • Yup – auto-DMs ring of hollow sincerity. A real DM or an @reply is fine is you want to introduce yourself.

  6. mark ivey says:

    I think you hit a nerve with this one. I’ve yet to meet anyone who enjoys getting DMs, about as much as I enjoy getting sales calls at dinner. Sending a response DM is one approach, but often (as another commenter said), I’ll just unfollow them–basically anything that smacks of sales gets unfollowed.

    • Some people defend auto-DMs fiercely, as an “outreach” communication. But I’ve never seen one that made me care more about the sender, or made want to click their link.

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  8. Pingback: Bring the Pain: Three Signs You’re About to Get Twitter Spam- The SiliconANGLE

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