I have a lot of Twitter followers. As a result, I follow a lot of people on Twitter. And that’s just on my own Twitter account. I manage several client Twitter accounts, too. One thing you notice when you follow a lot people is that people love their auto DMs.

Auto DMs are automated direct messages. Twitter users take advantage of software designed to perform certain actions when triggered by other actions. For example, sending out prewritten direct message each time someone new follows you.

Auto DMs seem like a great way to engage when you’re short on time. In reality, they — and I chose this word carefully — suck.

They’re spam.

Most Twitter users consider auto DMs to be the Twitter version of spam. In fact, Forrester Research conducted a survey a few years ago that showed roughly 3 out 4 people hate auto DMs and only 2 in 100 find value in them.

They’re impersonal.

You can’t customize automated Twitter direct messages. The best you can do is parse out the Twitter name if it’s separated by a space and assume the first value is the person’s first name. With my account though (Hot Pepper Comm.), it just ends up as “Hi Hot, thanks for following me…”

They’re unengaging,

Despite what some people think, auto DMs aren’t engaging. Response rates to them are low. Take this auto DM I received earlier this week on my Twitter account.


The irony in this auto DM is that the sender used an automated message to feign sincerity. Regardless, rather than sending the new follower a public tweet thanking them and perhaps even commenting on one of their tweets or retweeting one, this person took the easy yet unengaging way out.

Social media has the word “social” in it for a reason, and auto DMs aren’t social.

About Kim Siever

I am a copywriter and copyeditor. I blog on writing tips mostly, but I sometimes throw in my thoughts about running a small business. Follow me on Twitter at @hotpepper.

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