Here’s the biggest lesson I can give you about social media ~ very rarely does one size fit all. And yet over and again I see the social media “experts” telling everyone exactly what they should do, and how they should do it.
What social networks they need to be on . . . How many times a day they need to post . . . What times they should be posting . . . And even what their content should be.
I don’t really blame the experts for trying to put everyone in one social media box. Building a substantial social media following, and monetizing it, takes a lot of work. So people want to know how to do it. Step-by-step.
But your step-by-step is likely different than mine. Which is why the social media box theory so often makes me go “nnoooo . . . !”
The latest piece of generic “expert” advice that’s got me shaking my head is the outcry against the Twitter automated direct message, or “DM.”
“Don’t send Twitter automated DMs to each new follower!” seems to be the universal message. First let’s look at the logic that’s supporting that message. Then I’ll share with you why it’s wrong to shove everyone into the “no auto DM” box.
Social Media Experts Say: “No Auto DMs on Twitter!”
On February 15, Hubspot published 30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore. The article rightly criticizes the number of “social media experts” in the world today who are long on advice and short on experience. It also accuses the “true” experts of giving misguided advice.
Ironically, Hubspot (a company that certainly qualifies as a true industry expert) then goes on to give its own misguided advice. Coming in at #6 on the list of worst pieces of social media advice is “Send an auto DM to all your new followers.” The reason given is:
Whether you want to thank them, tell them to visit your website, or anything else, please please please don’t send an auto direct message (DM) to every new follower you get. Auto DMs are incredibly impersonal and perceived as spam by most. Sending auto DMs not only seems inconsiderate, but it also makes you look like a complete newbie who doesn’t understand social media etiquette.
On February 26, Forbes published 19 Things Successful People Do on Social Media. At #8, the article states: “They do not send auto DM to all their new followers.” To support the claim that successful people follow this practice, Forbes merely cites to Hubspot, giving the identical quote I’ve shared with you above.
And finally (so far), on March 8, Jeff Bullas published 5 Ways You’re Annoying Everyone on Social Media written by Jonathan Payne. Coming in at #1 this time — “Automated Direct Messages on Twitter.” The rationale here is three-fold. First, you need to give before you receive, and a Twitter DM asking for a Facebook “like” off the bat is greedy.
Second, a Twitter DM is hypocritical when your social media mantra is “engagement.”
And third, Twitter DMs are generic, and that’s no way to start a relationship with a new follower.
Why the “Experts” are Wrong About Auto DMs on Twitter
First, let’s talk about the Hubspot/Forbes position. Auto DMs are impersonal, spam and inconsiderate. According to who? I don’t feel that way. I get an average of 3-5 Auto DMs a day from people who don’t feel that way.
I’ll give you that the auto DM is, by nature, impersonal. So are the overwhelming majority of the tweets that come through your Twitter stream. I don’t hear anyone complaining about that. If the tweet doesn’t interest you, you ignore it. If the auto DM doesn’t interest you, ignore it too.
Yes, a certain number of auto DMs are spam. But this is in no way unique to Twitter DMs. A certain number of everything on social media is spam. And I don’t hear anyone advising us to give up social media.
As for inconsiderate, knocking on my door at midnight to introduce yourself as my newest Twitter follower would be inconsiderate. Sending a DM that you’re perfectly free to never look at? Not so much.
The rationale put forth on Jeff Bullas’ blog are no more compelling. The argument is that social media is about “engagement,” and starting a relationship with a generic message is somehow wrong.
Well, what better way to start the “engagement” process than through sending someone a message? And isn’t asking them to connect with you on other social networks “engagement?”
I like to think of social media the same way I think of real life. If I wanted to engage someone, would I stand there in hopes of some kind of a Vulcan mind meld? Or walk up and ask the person a question? Right.
And when I approach to engage, will it be with a generic question? Or will I somehow have (and find it appropriate) to ask a personal question of this person I don’t know?
An automated Twitter DM, done right, is the perfect way to engage like-minded individuals, and to find out which of your followers are the right ones to build relationships with that go beyond 140 characters.
What’s “done right” mean? Tune in next time and I’ll show you how to use Twitter auto DMs to build relationships and make money. In the meantime, let me know ~ do you use auto DMs? If so, how? If not, why not?