Who the Hell is Still Using Auto DMs?

Stop Auto DMs - The Anti-Social MediaEvery single day, without fail, I see someone tweet about how much they hate auto direct messages on Twitter. “I hate auto DMs.” “Auto DMs are the devil.” “If an Auto DM had the chance, it would kill you and your family.”

Ok, I get it, we all hate auto DMs.

I follow all sorts of people on Twitter. Newbies. Casual users. Marketers. Hardcore Twitterati. I follow all of these crazy people, and I have not received an auto DM since 2009.

I remember the first time I got an auto DM. It was before I was jaded into the angry, anti-social media personality I am now. I went to a tweetup, and I met a guy who thought he was a big shit. Maybe he is, I don’t know, but I was young and optimistic and I followed him.

I was met with a greasy, fat auto DM:

“Thanks for following me. Read my blog, subscribe to everything I do, and throw money at me. Thanks!”

Ok, that quote might not be entirely accurate, but “Subscribe to me” was at least the basis of it. I thought, “Why of course complete stranger who I’m just getting to know and who has yet to prove his worth, that’s was exactly what I want to do! Thank you for assuming that by following you on Twitter, I’m wholly invested in everything you do.”

I ignored that DM,  and continued to follow him, until I realized he didn’t tweet anything original. He republished the same 5 articles from his blog over and over and over.  People looking for engagement strategies, take note this is not an acceptable strategy.

This auto-publishing was a clear example of someone who was doing it wrong. Not only was he faking that he cared about people, he couldn’t give a damn about even creating a unique tweet once in a while. It was a clear attempt to exploit the medium to profit from other people.

I unfollowed him a month later, and I am thankful I haven’t seen another auto DM. I don’t want to imagine what it’s like to get more than one automated direct message. If my experience was an indication of one user’s ineptitude, then the collective user base of idiots must be truly frightening.

So, what morons are still using Auto DMs? Has anyone ever used them well? Let’s eradicate this scourge from the internet.

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40 Responses to “Who the Hell is Still Using Auto DMs?”

  1. Kia January 24, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    It’s been (knock on wood) about 4 months since my last auto DM. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to who sends them, and I follow a myriad of different people. I even got the auto verify you are a human DM when I followed some humor timeline. I went on a @ rant about it & ended up getting an apology & they then removed it, supposedly they forgot it was still enabled.

    I blame some Social media nutcase telling his clients they should do it, or some read my ebook blog must be telling people they have to to be a cool kid.


    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

      Automation is the best way to engage users.

  2. Jasper January 24, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    I get Auto DMs all the time actually… the new trend seems to be “connect with me on facebook. I wonder if their facebook status would read “follow me on twitter”. Come to think about it, that’s kind of how my insurance and phone company have handled things for as long as I can remember…

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

      The same tricks in a new medium. That’s NEVER been done before.

  3. Brad January 24, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    I don’t know that there are very many ‘great uses’ of Auto-DMs. Off the top of my head, though, I’d argue that for certain marketing purposes, using Auto DMs could be interesting, but only if they’re not of the ‘Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!…’ variety.

    To paint a ‘useful’ scenario, let’s pretend that The Anti-Social Media were hosting some form of ARG to boost readership and general awareness. DMs to new followers could be a way to draw in the follower to a savvy game of entertaining content delivery. (Note to Jay: Design immersive ARG about stick figures and social media).

    Aside from that, do auto-DMs have a place in the traditional model? Probably not. Most of the people who are going to use it will likely ignore the little people on a day-to-day basis, and if we’re not going to have some sort of binary relationship, I’m already well aware I’m following you because I can see you on my timeline.

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      If I ever have an auto DM, it will simply read, “Sucker.” User engagement is so 2010.

  4. Amy G. H. January 24, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    For a while, it seemed like everyone I followed sent an auto DM, but fortunately, the trend seems to be fading.

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      Being annoying is the next big fad.

  5. Dori January 24, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    There has been just one auto DM that I liked. I followed a clothing company on Twitter and received an auto DM with a coupon code for 10% off, which I remembered when they had a sale and ended up using.

    • Joshua S Sweeney January 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

      Now *THAT* seems like a good use of auto-DM. An incentive for the follower and not the followed.

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      See, that’s pretty nice.

    • Joy January 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

      OK, I’m going to use THAT.

    • JT February 3, 2011 at 5:31 am #

      This is an excellent idea! A lot better than: Thank you for following me - I do this and that, you should love me before you even know me!

      May I ask who the company was (just to see if they still do it)?

  6. Carlee Mallard January 24, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    A few months ago my boss sent me an email saying “Hey can you start sending out an automatic DM to everyone who follows us telling them to check out our new website? K thanks”. I just replied “No, I will not do that”. The next day I had to explain to her how HORRIBLE auto DMs are and that if we were to auto DM everyone we would start LOSING followers b/c it would piss everyone off. She was *appalled* and just couldn’t believe it.

    Luckily she doesn’t use Twitter and I do, so I won that battle. The compromise I came to was sending a personalized DM to certain followers that we wanted to make a deeper connection with :) Now people we DM actually like us!

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

      Thank goodness. We can’t have people not liking you. :)

  7. Rob January 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Along the same line, I hate when you get someone that follows you, just to get you to follow them, and then they unfollow you. Obviously, you weren’t genuinely interested enough in me to follow my tweets, why should I continue to follow you?

    This happened to my boss recently, as he is trying to dive headlong into the shallow end of the Social Media spectrum. His feelings were slightly hurt. I giggled to myself and explained to him that it was them, not him.

    Then I patted him on his head and sent him back out into the twitter playground, bright eyed and full of wonder again.

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

      Yeah, that’s a real jackass move too. Good thing you were able to patch up your boss’s feelings and have him back on the playground.

  8. Morgan January 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    I still use auto DM, but NOT to promote myself. I like to give everyone a friendly ‘hello’ and that’s it. I hate, hate, hate DMs that promote or say ‘like my facebook’ or ‘get this FREE report’ or whatever. Ick. I don’t even look at my DMs anymore and I honestly don’t expect anyone to look at the auto one I send.

    I debated for a long time if I should auto DM, but I did it just to say hello.

    I do completely agree with you, though, that DMs are becoming useless and I’ve actually thought about stopping mine just cause I feel dirty when I see it.

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

      If you feel dirty doing it, then it’s time to start doing something else.

    • Joy January 27, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

      I have a “Thanks for following me.” auto-DM on one of my twitter accounts too. I don’t feel dirty about it. I just like to say thank you but I don’t always notice when I get a new follower, so I set it up as an auto. There’s no ask or anything, just a thank you.

  9. Ashley January 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I am actually preparing to go to my boss to say I want to stop doing it. When you refer to Auto DM’ing, do you mean stop DM’ing even if it’s personalized?

    I normally say the same thing but I make sure to put the person’s name in. But I still feel wrong about it.

    If anyone can shed any light, that would be great.



    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      When I say auto DMing, I mean any automated message that goes out to new followers without nay human input.

      I say if it makes you feel scuzzy, don’t do it.

  10. Joshua S Sweeney January 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    I just got one this morning from a vineyard in Bordeaux asking me to like their Facebook page. Maybe the French are just behind in the times?

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

      You can always blame it on the French.

  11. Kari O'Brien January 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Hey Jay!

    This is semi-unrelated, but within the Twitter realm. (Btw, I called a guy out on the auto-DMs before and he stopped.)

    Gave you a tweet-out the other day - your reply “Love me or hate me, but I prefer love.” Haha, well I’m going with tentative love.

    After spending massive amounts of time on Twitter and blogging because I’ve been told “personal branding” and “engaging on Twitter” was how you “gain the attention of KOLs and recruiters”, I’m taking some time off.

    I’ve realized LinkedIn connections, emails (can you imagine), Facebook friends and actual telephone conversations have generated way more opportunities and leads for me.

    So after pulling 1,000 tweets last month, I’m going cold-turkey to focus on real connections.

    I will be reading your blog though. :)


    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

      Tentative love, the next best thing online.

      I think it all depends on where your network is. My network is mostly on Twitter, so I use that a lot and I have real connections there. I barely touch LinkedIn, so my connections there mean less to me.

      I’m glad to have you here though. I promise I’ll talk about something besides Twitter.

  12. Jeff Tippett January 24, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    May we kill “Reply All” in email while we’re at it?

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

      Yes we can.

  13. Dino Dogan January 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    I use DMs. There, I said it. My DM states “Im looking fwd 2 getting 2 know u. Here is me in 7 words. Blogging biking doggy training & songwriting festival of awesome :-) Who r u?”

    When they respond I do/know 2 things. I place them in the appropriate list so I can keep an eye on them, and I tweet it out to my other followers saying something like “Follow so and so cuz s/he is bla bla bla”.

    Everybody wins. No links, no facebook link, no “read my blog”.

    I hate to put a link in a comment, but I wrote a detailed post on how I use DMs and I also put other people’s DMs on blast.


    Lemme know what you think about it Jay.

    • Jay January 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

      I remember that message. Ooo, I hate you now forever.

      Seriously, though, that is a decent use of the auto DM. I can see how it helps you and isn’t too crazy.

    • Natalia Sylvester January 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

      Dino, that’s interesting, but it makes me wonder why someone needs to get to know you in seven words in an auto-DM, since isn’t that basically what a Twitter bio is for? Or why not start it off as a Twitter conversation instead of in a private message?

      It might be a strange preference to have, but I only DM people on Twitter who I’ve already developed a relationship with. To get an auto-DM as soon as I follow someone feels like they’ve jumped the gun. It’s like being at a networking event and having someone ask you to go to a private room to chat.

  14. Deidre Brathwaite January 25, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Hiya Jay,

    I didn’t realize persons still received auto DMs . I opted out of receiving auto DMs ages ago and my inbox thanks me every day.

    • Jay January 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      My inbox thanks me I don’t send more DMs than I do currently.

  15. Tia Dobi January 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    I absolutely use and advocate an auto welcome DM. Peeps show me they love this one by responding with love. It’s a huge conversation starter and feel-good touchback. I’ve asked many if I may RT their response to me. (So far everyone has said yes. Just asked someone right before I wrote this comment so you can go to my Twitter stream sometime today and see if Lisa Bee said yes :-D . That would be http://www.twitter.com/TiaDobi )
    Here it is:
    Hellooooo. I use to be a lint picker in a tuxedo factory, now I’m a direct response copywriter. Lots more fun. You? Why are you on Twitter?
    And if Sephora and StillaCosmetics did not send me an auto-welcome coupon Tweet ….ooooo eeeeeee. Mama not like that.

    • Jay January 26, 2011 at 1:00 am #

      Hmm, Interesting. Very weird and eye catching. I’m not sold on it though.

  16. Dagi Cueppers January 25, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    I’m a little scared to say it here, but I do use an auto DM for people who start following me. It reads:

    “A friend is one the nicest things you can have. And the best thing you can be.” ~Douglas Pagels

    I feel that it’s a nice way to tell people, that for me a connection is about giving, at least as much as it’s about receiving. I also thought about being on the receiving end of that DM, and I think I would love reading it.

    A lot of people have responded to that message, or have tweeted it with my name, so I think at least those kinda liked it. But I would be very interested to hear from you DM opponents, if you would be annoyed if you received it.

    • Jay January 26, 2011 at 12:52 am #

      For me, the quote would be would be overkill. Quotes bore me.

      That’s just me though. I know a lot of people who love putting them up on Twitter.

  17. Akua Auset January 25, 2011 at 11:37 pm #


    After reading two of your blogs I have subscribed, certain that I will receive my daily dose of hearty laughter.

    Puh-lease keep those fingers a peckin’.

    • Jay January 25, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

      I will keep peckin’ if you keep laughin’.

  18. Josh Surber January 27, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Auto DM I just got:
    Welcome and thank you. Life Can Be Different if you want it to be, how do I mean? Hope this little article helps

    Welcome and thank you. You Can Be Unfollowed & Reported Spam if you want to be, how do I mean? Hope this article helps.