Thanks for the Follow! The Mystery of the Auto DM
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Thanks for the Follow! The Mystery of the Auto DM

Posted in Digital Marketing — November 2, 2012

Auto

“Thank you for following! You can also connect with us on Facebook!”

If you’re an active Twitter user, you’ve undoubtedly received plenty of similar direct messages in your inbox, most of which were probably sent automatically by a third-party tool. In the early days of Twitter, a direct message was a popular way to thank someone for following you. As third-party Twitter clients were developed and became widely used, many of them added functionality that allowed users to send an automated message to new followers, which removed much of the luster of a private thank you.

I don’t fault anyone for using the tools that are available to them to save time and work more efficiently, but I tend to find automated messages to be a bit impersonal. For many Twitter users, auto DMs are on par with spam and result in an immediate unfollow. I’m not quite that critical, but after receiving several automated DMs recently, I was curious. Are people seeing value from this practice? If so, I was interested to hear more. I asked a question on Twitter this morning to see if anyone wanted to chime in:

For those still using auto DMs for new followers, do you ever receive responses to them? Do you track new followers/unfollows? Curious.

A few people responded, none of whom were using auto DMs. All of them were responding to say that they didn’t like them, with a couple of the responses specifically mentioning a dislike of suggestions to “follow us on Facebook.” One response from Eric Guerin summed it up quite well:

Kinda’ takes the “social” out of social media, doesn’t it?

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t thank everyone who follows each of the Twitter accounts I manage, but when I receive a follow from a person or business that I feel warrants a “thank you,” I use a personalized reply. More often then not, I’ll receive a response, and the relationship is off to a good start. One of the key benefits of Twitter is the one-to-one communication it enables, whether between two individuals, or between a brand and its customers. Starting off a new relationship with a meaningful dialogue (as opposed to an impersonal auto DM) indicates your willingness to engage in conversations of value.

I did some quick research and found a post about a study conducted last year by Optify, which found that the use of auto DMs led to a 245% increase in unfollow rate. With these kind of numbers, it seems like those using automated direct messages to thank new followers might be much better off with no thank you at all, let alone a personal reply.

Are you using auto DMs with your personal or business account? I would be interested in hearing about the results you’ve seen. If you’re not using them, how do you respond when you receive one? Share your thoughts in the comments, or of course, send me a reply on Twitter.

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