Monday, 30 May 2011

Auto DMs, please don't

One of the most sure fire ways to hack off the majority of the Twitter community that I know is to use the "Auto DM on follow" function.

When you find someone you're interested in talking to on Twitter there are a variety of ways people use to decide whether or not to follow them. A, strictly unscientific, straw poll of tweeps gives some insight into the process and the criteria people might use:
  • I know them in real life (can be negative or positive!)
  • I like the retweets I've seen of them in my timeline
  • They're following me and I like their bio
  • I loved the reply they sent to my friend (this assumes you copied in the other recipients)
  • They made a lovely comment on my blog
  • They're local
  • They share the same interests/causes as I do
Additional criteria for following businesses:
  • There aren't too many sales tweets in their timeline - they talk as well as sell
  • I took a look at their website and they seem interesting
  • I'm interested in buying from them, but I want to see what they're really like first.
Of course, not everyone will apply all these criteria - and I know there will be other factors that aren't included here. However, you can assume that a (real) new follower has taken an interest in you for a reason and has done some level of decision making and, therefore, research about you.

Now, having made a conscious decision to follow someone, you then receive the Auto DM in response.

Let's go through some typical contents of these DMs:
  • Thanks for following me - anodyne but not offensive
  • Hope you find us interesting - really? do you think we followed you because you're dull?
  • Find out more about us on our website - a link to which is already on your Bio?
  • Buy our stuff at really great rates = 'unfollow'
What gets missed by people that use the Auto DM function is the passionate dislike of the things that many of the Twitterati have. I recently asked the tweeps I interact with for their opinions on these 'welcome' DMs. Here's a selection of the more printable responses:
  • Instant unfollow, I hate auto DMs
  • Unfollow & block, these people really don't get Twitter
  • It's SO old fashioned, nobody uses them now, they're awful
  • Such a lazy thing to do, what's wrong with talking to people?
  • I loathe auto DMs, I have to pay for the texts to my phone and these things cost me money!
  • What's the point of them - its' all in their bio anyway
My personal take on Auto DMs and the awful 'thanks for following me @newfollower' tweets is - just don't.