Social Media Etiquette: Do NOT Send an Automated Twitter Direct Message to Each New Follower

Posted by Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak works at PTC, a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management, as ...
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on Monday, 14 November 2011 in Social Media

If you’ve been on Twitter for more than a month or so, chances are you’ve been followed – rather quickly – by someone you started following.  And shortly after that, you received a direct message. “Wow!” you think.  “This person is really on top of their game!”  And then you open it, and it reads something to the effect of “Thanks for the follow!  Go read my stuff here: __ and let’s also connect here: ___ And by the way, I’m also over here: ___”

Genuine?  Not really.  Heartfelt?  Nope.  Automated?  Yep.

I’ve written about auto-DMing on follow on my own Subjectively Speaking blog in the past.  I’ll let that post (and the comments) stand on its own, and offer up another angle here for the Comparz readers.

In my original post, I talk about the receiving end of such a tweet.  It feels cold, impersonal, almost like a direct-mail postcard.  And if you use Twitter as primarily a broadcast, one-way channel, then this might work for you.  For those of you who don’t see it that way, but are still auto-direct-messaging-on-follow, give this a second thought: might your messages be misconstrued?  Might they look like a green salesperson, looking to boost numbers and followers and artificially inflate a following and perceived level of importance?

Instead, consider a different approach.  I think a direct message to Twitter followers is a good idea, if worded correctly and not sent automatically to everyone.  What if instead, you sent a direct message that thanked the other person for the follow, indicated an interest of yours, and then asked your new follower what interests them (or a different question)?  Now you’ve set up an avenue for dialogue.  You are possibly engaging them.  And it doesn’t come across as spammy. Business-to-business book co-author Eric Schwartzman offers his own take on it here, via this simple graphic.

“But this will take more work, Alan!”

Yes.  Yes it will. 

But it doesn’t matter really how you go about this, because no matter what, you’re doing it wrong.

Alan Belniak is the director of social media marketing at a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management. To read more, find and follow him at his blog and via Twitter

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Alan Belniak works at PTC, a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management, as the company's Director of Social Media Marketing. In this role, Alan works in strategic and tactical fashions to find ways to use social media channels to better interact with customers, and to direct that feedback to marketing, R&D, sales, and other appropriate groups. Alan holds a bachelor's of Science degree in engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA, and his master's degree in Business Administration, focusing on Technology Entrepreneurship, from Babson College in Wellesley, MA. You can find Alan at, and


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