I make a point each day of trying to find more interesting people to follow on Twitter (more on how I curate an interesting feed here), however lately this practice has been marred by an increasing number of automated direct messages.
Although nothing new and almost universally derided amongst Twitter users, it seems recently that the dial has been turned up to 11.
My reaction is simple – instantly unfollow.
We all know the social media metaphor of the bar, and that you wouldn’t just walk up to a stranger and try to sell something. Yet this is exactly what the auto DM is.
So what is it that annoys most people?
We’ve Not Yet Established Trust or Value
A follow on Twitter is not an instant indication of trust. It’s an indication that I have found your last few things reasonably interesting and think I want to see more. Twitter is one of the lowest touch networks when it comes to connecting with people you know and trust, and in most cases the strength of a connection, especially at this embryonic stage, is tenuous.
By sending me an automated message straight away – inviting me to connect on LinkedIn / Facebook, try your product that’s in beta, visit your website or download your eBook – assumes that the value you offer has been firmly established and that all connections are created equal.
It demonstrates the value you place on the connections you make. Even by automating even something as simple as gratitude for a new follower instantly shows that you don’t care enough to take the time.
These networks have always been about establishing trust, an automation of your 1:1 interactions flies in the face of this.
Can Automated Direct Messages Work At All?
I’ve been part of Twitter for nearly 7 years, and can count on the one hand useful direct messages I have received. The most useful I ever received was a pay-it-forward kind of message, telling me three more interesting people I should follow.
If you’re serious about leveraging a network of connections like Twitter, avoid automation of direct messaging. It presumes that everyone follows you for the same reason, and that you need to interact with every single one of them. You don’t.
Let me be clear here – direct messaging is still of value. When you take the time, personalise it, and mean it. Spend the time, understand the value you provide, and use that to deepen your connections.
This provision of value is the new currency. and done right can pay greater dividends than trying to sell them something.