I can see their little faces, peering at some ghastly app and being informed that they have the means to automatically promote whatever they want to promote, directly, to all their Twitter followers at once. The faces adopt not a gleeful smile, but an intensive and mildly aggressive look of self-serving focus, as the brain takes route one and engages the process.
But like all plans that look too good to be true, this is too good to be true. There are in fact more than ten reasons why automated, mass Direct Messages are a dumb means of Twitter promotion. But here are ten of the most obvious, and important…
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T MASS-DM YOUR TWITTER FOLLOWERS
It doesn’t look good. No one is under any illusions about what you’re doing. Everyone can see that auto-DMs are spam, and no one likes a spammer.
It’s massively annoying. For anyone following a lot of new accounts, the stream of auto-DMs never stops. You’re not standing out – you’re just blending in with a general wall of gross irritation.
Auto-DMs remind new followers to put you on Mute, and give them the best reason in the world to do so. If you’re ramming your crap into followers’ faces via DM within moments of them following you, they’ll have no doubt that your Tweets will be spammy and annoying, and they’ll simply switch you off.
Auto-DMs remind new followers to check whether or not you’ve followed them back. If you haven’t, you look rude and self-serving, and you’re likely to get a fast unfollow.
YOU USE AUTOMATION! So you’re most unlikely to be paying attention. If you’re using automation for one aspect of your Twitter, people will assume you’re using it for other aspects too. And if people get the impression that your account is automated, they’re going to conclude that you don’t look at your timeline. Therefore, there’s nothing in this Twitter ‘relationship’ for them. Why would they be interested?
Repeated auto-DMs WILL result in high numbers of unfollows. It doesn’t matter if you’re following people back or not. You’re just one account, and no one is going to see any great sacrifice in losing the follow of someone who floods their inbox with Direct Messages. One particular account spammed me with three auto-DMs within a matter of hours. Not only did I unfollow – I also blocked the account across all my Twitters so I wouldn’t make the same mistake again. Then, logged out, I monitored the progress of the account over the next ten days.
In that short period, their followers total dropped by 1.3K. Ultimately the account got suspended. People just aren’t going to put up with that level of annoyance to hang onto one follower, whom they know isn’t reading their Tweets anyway.
Spamming is ineffective compared with other types of marketing. The uptake rate on all Twitter spamming practices has been shown time and time again to be incredibly low, and almost invariably one-off in nature. You may get one or two clicks here and there, but is it worth annoying 99% of your followers in order to get a transient, one-off acknowledgement from the 1%?
Auto-DMs contradict all the rules of effective promotion. You’re trying to ‘sell’ something no one’s ever heard of, in one sentence, to users who probably know nothing about you and only followed you because your Follow button was among a list of likely followbacks. If you’re not famous or naturally viral, 95% plus of the people who follow you on Twitter will only do so because they want you to follow them. They have no inherent interest in you. Before you can promote to them, you have to change that. An automated DM saying “Hey, check my shit!” is not going to change a thing.
Auto-DMs show a lack of talent and an inability to attract attention through natural means. You can’t catch anyone’s eye, so you’ve resorted to banging on doors with an ambush. Be honest – what’s the first thing you think when a workman knocks your door asking if you want any odd jobs done?… Yep, if his work was any good he’d be booked up, and not wasting his time knocking doors.
You can be blocked, reported and suspended for spamming. Automation is against Twitter’s Terms of Service, and the read screen for your Direct Message (which people will access when they go to delete it) now has a drop-down with a selection to flag that message as spam. If enough people report you, you’ll inevitably be suspended for abuse of the site. And as more users notice the drop-down, more will start to report. Particularly now that users can choose to accept DMs without following, the danger of mass direct messaging campaigns is sharply increasing.