Freelancers love Twitter. If you're not on it, get on it. Sending Direct Messages (or DM's) is also a great way to make contact privately and is an underused tool. However, you've undoubtedly come across a message from someone you've started following that seems a little generic or asks for verification. Automated communication is becoming more popular so what are automated messages and should you use them?

We all get them, some don't realise their sending them and very few know how to use them properly. Automated direct messages or Auto DMs in Twitter can be a tool for good or evil. Twitter themselves frown upon the user of Automated direct messages and state that new users will find automated messages about signing up to a newsletter or following another social platform annoying. 

What are Automated Messages? 

Certain sites allow you to set an automated message that is sent automatically to all new followers. There are also sites to help you verify if you're following real people or spammers like TrueTwit which ironically feels really spammy to receive. You may have received a message like this in the past: 

Why would you want to auto message?

Keeping up with your social media accounts is a time killer and anything to help with that is a good thing. Automated messages are a way to start a conversation with your new followers but, if you're lazy about it, it's a sure fire way of losing friends fast. Most who use Auto DMs are looking to promote something (normally a website, product or asking you to follow another social media platform they're on) while others use the default 'Thanks for Following, I'm looking forward to reading your Tweets' as a pleasantry.  

So should you use automated messages? 

If you're just going to use the service to send out a default message then we'd say no. It's annoying, it's spammy and clogs up people's message boxes. It can be used cleverly to offer value but even then it can feel very impersonal. Warning: if you have a diverse audience and a specific auto reply you're going to isolate a large number of followers with irrelevant content. It can cause you more harm then good so if you're going to use it or not, here's a few tips on sending direct messages either way. 

  1. Personalise it. It's always nice to see your name and encourages you to read more. Sending a message manually allows you to connect in a real way. 
  2. Keep it clean. If you are using an Auto DM service, don't if you have to include the service's brand handle. It looks cheap and spammy.
  3. All things to all people. If you have a diverse audience, Auto DM's may not be for you. The last thing you want to do is send a message that has nothing to do with the person who just followed you. You'll lose a follower before they've even started getting into your chats. Look into who they are, what they do and send a message with meaning. It will give you a much better chance of a connection. 
  4. Be funny. A joke or quip that can put a smile on someone's face is priceless and a great way to start your new Twitter relationship 
  5. Give don't take. So many Auto DM's or DMs in general ask for something. Follow me, like me, buy this... but the DM is a chance to give something back and solidify your new relationship.

We got this great message from @phunkymoo. We'd be all over that coffee if we weren't London based. It's personalised, open, friendly and could start a relationship immediately. Brilliant.  

If you're into social media or just learning about the tools and techniques, check out our Masterclass on the 26th November at The Hospital Club, London with Tim Lion, European Head of Social Media.