Don’t Hate Me Because I Auto-DM

twitter-logoAuto-DM:  A direct message sent automatically on Twitter by a 3rd party service like Tweetlater.  Generally these are sent as a welcome message to a user’s new Twitter followers.

I hate the annoying auto-DM”s.  They clutter my inbox and waste my time.  There is a however a right way and a wrong way to use auto-DM’s.  I am going to probably lose followers for saying this, but I feel like in full disclosure it is something that needs to be said:

My name is Adrian, and I send auto-dm’s to my new followers.

There, I admitted it.  I know its impersonal, I know it may be annoying, but I use auto-dm’s and I am probably going to keep sending them and here are three reasons why:

1.  I have a fairly large following, and I REALLY appreciate my followers.  I try to respond to every @reply and real direct message sent my way, and I try even harder to thank those who retweet my posts.  I would never send an auto-dm to my current followers- but when people first add me, I want them to get a feeling for who I am. Besides, I may never have a chance to interact with them personally otherwise.  If people reply to my auto-dm welcome message, I am always ready and willing to engage them in non-automated discussion.

2.  When I first got started on Twitter I benefited from a few kind Twitter users that showed me the ropes.  One in particular named @michaelhyatt sent me an auto-DM welcome with some tips he had gathered for new twitter users.  It was great information, and I  really appreciated that, so I put together a few 1-minute videos of my own that try and do the same for other new users- I wanted to give them the same helpful tips that got me started on the right foot.  My auto-DM mentions these free videos to new Twitter users.

3.  My auto-dm doesn’t try and sell anything.  I don’t sell the tips, in fact there isn’t anything for sale on my website, so the only benefit to me is the good karma.  Twitter is all about passing on the good information, so I think it is only appropriate to mention these videos to my new followers.

The Wrong Ways to Use the Auto-DM

1. Don’t invite me to your money-making scheme- I don’t know you yet, why would I have that kind of confidence in who you are and what you are about to join your business venture?

2. Don’t invite me to your scheme to generate tens of thousands of followers- that is a turn off when I have never even interacted with you before.

3. Don’t invite me to connect with you on Facebook- if I have never had an actual conversation with you, why would I want the greater level of contact with you that Facebook offers?

4. Don’t invite me to your mafia wars, ninja dojo, or to give you a “gift.”  Its not that I’m no fun- I just think there are better video games out there.

5. If you are going to use an auto-Dm, show some personality- let me know a little bit about who you are, not what you sell.  Try and add some value in a way that is not self-promotional.

Everybody has their own point of view on the auto-DM, and I was back and forth on them myself as a new user- but now I think they have real value to help build relationships.  What do you think of the auto-DM?


19 Responses to “Don’t Hate Me Because I Auto-DM”

  1. Hutch says:

    That was an automated “thank you” ? : (

    Just kidding. I can see the need for automating a DM when someone starts following you. I think it’s a nice to gesture to acknowledge people when the first start following you. I only have a few followers, so I can respond to each new one personally right now, but I can see a time when I would want an automated response.

    Thanks for all you do for tweeters. Keep up the great work. I read all your tweets, your blog and watch your videos.


  2. Adam Arnold says:

    Excellent! Covering the most important aspect of using Auto-DM’s…

    Should I or not? And if so, How?

    I also use Auto-DM for followers when they first add me, it is my way of avoiding spam followers.

    My new follwer receives this tweet “@ozestretch uses TrueTwit validation service. Please follow this link to validate your profile.

    If they validate, then I know they are human and I follow them back…. after that I use good old fashioned reading to see if I should remain following 😉

    Dugg it!

    • Personally I am not a big fan of the Truetwit validation service- but I get those messages fairly regularly. I just don’t have time to click through to validate- nor do I feel the need to have a 3rd party validate me. Thanks for the comment though.

  3. The failure of Auto-DM is that I already made the decision to follow the person. I found something worthwhile. Sending me an auto DM and hitting my inbox is just annoying unless you are truly adding some value.

    I have only seen two auto-DMs that added any value.

    @MassAGO sends an Auto-DM with a link to their disclaimer and usage policy. Sensible for an elected government official. After all, their usage of Twitter has First Amendment implications.

    @Boston_police sends an AutoDM warning you not to use Twitter for an emergency call. Also sensible. “Thank you for following the Boston Police(beta). We monitor @ replies, but in case of emergency, always phone 911.”

    No others, including yours, added any value.

    I usually unfollow the person after getting one. If I wanted an email from the person, I would have sent them an email.

  4. Doug, that is fine if you don’t think my message added any value- and it will really only add value to NEW users- but I think its worth the risk of bugging veterans to make sure I can share the helpful info with people that need it.

    Use auto-dm’s at your own peril, because there is certainly a trade-off with so many negative feelings about them on Twitter.

  5. Ed. says:

    I’d add one more, Adrian

    Don’t auto-DM me with a canned response that acknowledges that I just followed you. I know that you get an alert from Twitter when I start following you. I don’t need you to have your email tell my email that you just got that alert but don’t care enough to respond personally. That’s just insulting. And it’s spam. Don’t use auto-DM to spam me. If you notice that I’ve started following you, and really care, a personal DM indicating why you appreciate me following you, more or differently than any of the several thousand other followers you appreciate, would be real nice.



  6. Thanks for the interesting post. I also use auto-DM for new followers (and only for them), giving links to my blog and LinkedIn, for those who want to know more about me and the topics I cover.
    I had negative comments from a few users. Answering them directly and explaining why the got an automated message initially, always solved the problem.

    Oliver. (@oth11)

  7. Tim Baran says:

    Provocative post, Adrian. I feel strongly about not sending auto DMs. It’s been a completely negative experience for me. On more than one occasion, someone followed me, and I followed back after checking and finding value on their Twitter stream and website. I immediately got an auto DM. And no such auto DM goes unanswered. I DM’d back expressing exactly what I appreciated about them that facilitated the follow. Never received an answer from most and nothing meaningful from the rest. I unfollowed them all, because even though I found them interesting or useful, they were now forever tainted. And you know what they say about first impressions 🙂

    You do bring up a significant caveat, however – the number of followers. Because I’ve been on Twitter for only four months, I’ve had the great privilege of learning from veterans. I consistently vet the number of followers as much as I do those I’m following. So, although I have less than 600 followers, I’ve blocked or unfollowed resulting in them dropping me, over 2000. The result? I NEVER get spam in my inbox. I have no doubt that if I auto DM’d a message to all followers instead of vetting, I’d have the same problem with spam that I see so many complaining about.

    But ultimately, it comes down to what Twitter means to each of us. And to me, as corny as it may seem, it really is about building relationships and connecting across shared interests and goals. Auto DMs (and scheduled tweets, to some extent) seems cold and distant. Not connecting. Not engendering conversation. Bringing potential relationships to a screeching halt…..Still lots to learn, though 🙂

  8. Jim says:

    It’s interesting how few people respond when I answer their auto-DMs. I’ll be deleting some of them.

  9. Montserratlj says:

    My comment is here:

  10. Montserratlj says:

    I believe that Direct Messages (DMs) should be for private, personal messages. Some DMs can be spammish, but autoDMs are even more so. I see autoDMs as automated spam.

    So, my counter-arguments against your pro-autoDM stances:

    1. You like to send autoDMs to new followers, but think you must send impersonal thank-yous, and welcomes because you have such a large following on Twitter.

    I think you can show appreciation for new followers by continuing to tweet in the manner consistent to before they followed you. Good, non-repetitive content in your public tweets is thanks enough! AutoDMs fail; DMs feel at least more personal.

    AutoDMs are:

    a. Empty content; are obvious, like “duh, I know why I’m following you”
    b. Provide no new information; are repetitive
    c. Assume followers have no clue why they followed you
    d. Noise-y
    e. Spam-y; smell like marketing slights-of-hand
    f. Annoying
    g. A waste of time to read

    2. You use autoDMs to post links to free videos for new Twitter users to your new followers.

    But, Adrian, you tweet those URLs all the time, so why DM or autoDM them? Your new followers will see them in due course. You tend to tweet those URLs to free videos at least once a day. If they want more info, they can DM you for it.

    3. You think autoDMs are okay because it’s not like you’re trying to sell or market anything.

    But you are! You are selling something. You’re selling your reputation. You’re marketing yourself. Those free videos feature YOU. They are embedded at YOUR “Marketing Strategy and the Law: Social Media Edition” website. When you autoDM the free video links, it’s like, just in case you didn’t notice, look at MY website. Look at ME. The autoDMs are obvious and repetitive.

    So, in sum, autoDMS are major FAIL! 

    P.S. I do agree with Doug Cornelius that there are a few exceptions, but for corporate bodies such as the Boston Police. Followers can expect impersonal tweets from them and impersonal autoDMs for their followers can make sense. But for individual persons, AutoDMS fail, with one exception.

    Mistaken Identity

    If you’re @palfrey and are getting thousands of follows from folks believing you’re @jpalfrey (John Palfrey of Born Digital fame) and are majorly annoyed, I could see the efficiency of autoDM’ing new followers: NO, I AM NOT JOHN PALFREY! You want @jpalfrey. Or if you tell folks who’ve mistaken you for some else on Twitter, you can autoDM: No, I am not THAT @adriandayton. But you can always prevent followers from mistaking you for someone else by adding the clarification in your Twitter bio/profile.

    Just say NO to autoDMs! 

  11. marc warnke says:

    Thanks for this post I enjoyed it. Due to the size of my following and the number daily new followers, if I auto DMed them my API gets used up. I also, like you, hate that my DM column is always full of useless bot and spammy conversation. I vote no on Auto DM, but I get why it’s there. The problem is, it’s impersonal which is counterproductive to social marketing.

  12. Carl Ingalls says:

    I won’t claim that auto DM’s are either right or wrong. However, I do not follow people who use auto DM’s to welcome new followers. I could use the opt-out feature of TweetLater, which would avoid almost all auto DM’s, but it is not really the auto DM’s that I wish to avoid. I would rather focus my attentions on people who use Twitter to connect with other people in a 100% personal way. This is only my personal preference.

    I use an “Ask First, Follow Later” process. I always interview (personally) every person I am considering following, BEFORE I follow them. I tell them that I would like to follow them, but first I need their assurance that I will not receive an auto DM from them. Almost all of the responses are extremely positive. On a few occasions, the person has chosen to stop using auto DM.

    Sometimes the person just ignores my question, and then I forget that I had asked them. This is probably best for both of us.

    Carl Ingalls

    • Great comment Carl. I am aware that many Twitter users have a policy of “I unfollow all auto-DM users” and for me personally I find that unfortunate for obvious reasons. The biggest reason I still with it though, is because my message is really helpful for VERY NEW users. I am trying to help them, and it seems worth it- at the risk of alienating some power users that have a strict un-follow policy.

  13. Oh Adrian. Please let me preface this with…you know how much I love you IRL, right?

    You have lost your mind!

    I always liken Twitter to a networking event. Having auto DM is like saying to every person you meet, “Check out my Twitter one minute videos on my blog!” If you did that in real life, as soon as they introduced themselves, how would you feel?

    When I first started on Twitter, I would auto DM all of my new followers with something personal that I discovered from their bio, Web site, or blog. I did this, MYSELF, until I broke the 1,000 mark. Now I still manually follow people back, but I agree with Ed, I don’t send an auto DM that says I acknowledge that you’re following me.

    If you think about Twitter as a networking event and how you talk to people IRL, you’ll find ways to connect and engage with new people daily without using ‘bots to help you.

  14. TYPO:

    When I first started on Twitter, I would (not auto, but personal) DM all of my new followers with something personal that I discovered from their bio, Web site, or blog. I did this, MYSELF, until I broke the 1,000 mark. Now I still manually follow people back, but I agree with Ed, I don’t send an auto DM that says I acknowledge that you’re following me.

  15. Charlotte Sherman says:

    First of all I appreciate you opening the door to this discussion. I HATE receiving auto welcome DM’s!!! I am very animated in person, so imagine me saying that with full facial and body language to match.

    So now that – that’s said, I agree with Doug…I already made the decision to follow! When I choose to follow someone I have gone to their profile, I read their bio, I visited the website and I reviewed their tweet stream. I don’t NEED a “thank you” either personal or auto. Which also means I dont thank ppl for following me, I give them the respect to make decisions based on real conversations with me. And I will reach out to followers and to the ppl I am following. I answer all @replys and thank ppl for RT’s.

    In order to stop most of the auto welcomes I use the opt-out feature available with TweetLater, what a relief! Now instead of wasting my time reading them and then unfollowing each one cause I’m ticked, now I can focus my time on the real reason I am there….relationship building, conversations and connecting with my community. Now I unfollow those that I reach out to that dont reply back.

    Thanks again,


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