Auto-DMs are NOT cool. I un-follow or block one or more tweeps for spamming my DM box nearly every day. I am not interested in buying 10,000 followers and do not believe that I am really featured in a shocking or funny video that they have recently viewed! In fact, as I noted in an earlier post the spam in the DM box has made Twitter direct messages useless for me and many others.
But until yesterday, I used SocialOomph to send an auto-welcome to new followers, thanking them for following me and suggesting that they take a look at this blog and consider subscribing to it. About once every two months I would get an indignant or even vitriolic message about my message, but the tone of the message made it easy for me to ignore the note and consider the sender someone I probably didn’t want to communicate with anyway. It seemed I got more followers than hate notes.
Yesterday I received a couple polite notes from @marcymassura informing me that she was unfollowing me because of the horrible first impression from an auto-DM. Horrible first impression…I teach professional selling as well as social media marketing; in selling I stress the importance of the initial impression! Marcy got me focused on the issue of first impression and I decided to shut down the auto-DM.
What should be automated in social media?
There is quite a range of opinions on this matter. Some respected social media participants admit to automating as much as possible while others argue against any automation – included scheduled posts and follow-backs. The logic is sound: If you are not online you can’t engage participants who interact with the content; and what is more important than who is populating your feeds.
I believe that some automation is inevitable once one has a large following on twitter. I personally draw the line at content. My tweets are written or curated by me: I don’t auto-RT even trusted sources like @ckburgess or @markwschaefer and I check out links. Some tweeters disagree: Super-blogger Jeff Bullas advocates auto-RTs which is why I argued in a post that he is a BOT on Twitter!
Tweets must be spread throughout the day in order to be seen by most of the followers. Scheduling tweets and some automation of follow-backs seem reasonable steps to me as they consume time that can be better spent on content. Even here one must be careful: I would be hesitant to schedule if I knew I was going to be away from Twitter for too long, as the lack of responses and acknowledgement can seem rude.
However, I had a disaster when I auto-followed back on my Twitter account for a while. I kept track for several weeks and observed that I chose to follow back over 85% of the people who followed me. It seemed reasonable to just follow everyone back. I would not announce I was doing it: I should have listed “I follow back” as a clear sign that one should not follow someone in my nine clues article on following the wrong people. Of course, somehow I still ended up on lists of “people who follow everyone back.” I enjoyed the surge in followers until I noticed that my feed was degraded. A new sample indicated that I would only choose to follow back about one-third of new followers at that point. It took six months to clean up my feed…
What you feel is the proper amount of automation on Twitter? Please take a second….
Perhaps I am a purist, but I voted ‘Nothing’. Gary, for me what is more interesting is that you decided to make this change and then even blogged about it. Socrates was said to be the smartest man in Athens because he ‘knew that he did not know everything’. We can all take a huge lesson from you in learning and dialoging with our networks about it. I am personally glad that I follow you!
Thanks for another great post, Gary. I voted “some scheduling” because there are bloggers, like yourself, who have excellent content that I want to share. I openly admit that I automate some posts for specific times that I feel are convenient for my global followers, but that’s where automation begins and ends (for me). And I absolutely read each post beforehand, (1) because I am always looking to learn from others, and (2) how would you know if your followers might find it interesting? I also agree about being selective with followers so I spend time personally checking each one out and putting them in a list (on Twitter). Social marketing is not a numbers game. Social marketing is about building relationships, engagement and transparency. I care deeply about my followers and want them to view me as a positive “go to” resource for information.
Thanks for the comments! I agree with your perspective. I am drawn to techniques to save time on social media, but often the cost in “social” is far too high!
I am a “sometimes” scheduler. I like to send out information on my industry that I think my followers would like to see, but I don’t want to send it all out at the same time, so I schedule things around an hour apart. Never more than a day in advance. I also have a plug in on my blog that randomly tweets out older posts 2 or 3 times a day.
But I’m also live on twitter at least 3 or 4 times a day for as little as 10 minutes maybe or up to an hour, communicating, interacting, taking part in tweet-parties. So I think it’s a pretty good balance.
Kelly, I agree. In my opinion the most important factor is that you are creating the content!
Thanks for your comment