Since the beginning of the year an interesting online etiquette issue has arisen on Twitter: the use of automatic direct messages (private messages for those unfamiliar with the popular micro-blogging service).
Basically, a person on Twitter signs up for a third party service — SocialToo and Tweetlater are the top two that come to mind. These services automatically send a scripted message to people who follow them.
Once activated, these service send out messages created by the user ranging from the banal (“thanks for following me”) to badgering (“click my junk”).
The general consensus is that using automatic direct messages is bad form. Since social media is all about being, well, social, using an automated script to say the same thing to everyone is disingenuous at best and downright rude at best — especially if all you are doing is promoting a product or service.
Twitter heavyweights Chris Brogan and Loic Lemeur have expressed concern about this issue. Even The Busy Brain discouraged the practice (and you better listen to your brain, no matter how busy it is!).
Long story short: don’t auto DM.
I’ve received several dozen automatic direct messages. For the most part I’ve found them to be bothersome, but also humorous. I deleted most of them and almost immediately unfollowed the person sending the message.
I wasn’t terribly bothered by the posts, but their use communicated to me that the person I elected to follow was not willing to make the personal investment in social media I feel must occur. In some cases, where there was a less “salesy” pitch it was clear the person was sending out the auto messages in a misguided effort to be polite.
If nothing else, the sheer “infomercial” nature of some of them made me wonder how truly effective any of them could possibly be. My three favorite automatic direct messages (of those I saved) include:
“You totally ROCK. Since you’re following me I’ll be sure to check out your profile. What made you follow me?”
“Thanks Mathew for following. Here’s your gift. Get 1 Million Double-Opted In, Daily Verified Leads For F*R*E*E !!Come get it before they close this free offer ! [Link to website]
“Thanks for following me doctorious. Need a FREE Twitter Background/Theme? [link to website] We also do custom themes.”
Fortunately, a “hero” arose in the midst of this madness: the Twitter account “@optmeout.” However, the relief offered by this account only turnzs off automatic direct messages from people using “Tweetlater.” But something is better than nothing, right? Here is how the process works:
- Go to @optmeout on Twitter and Follow it.
- Receive a DM from @optmeout indicating it has followed you back.
- Send a DM back to @optmeout.
- Unfollow @optmeout.
After completing this process I realized there must be many “awesomely bad” auto DMs out there. Therefore, I invite you to post in the comments box below as many automatic direct messages you received or of which you have become aware. My goal is to amass a centralized list of automatic direct messages.
In closing, embracing the spirit if the Emma Lazarus poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty, I hereby say to you: Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled Auto DM’s yearning to breathe free!