Thou Shalt Not Auto-Direct Message On Twitter

I’m going to go on my soapbox just one more time in the hopes that this message goes viral, spreads through the Interwebs, and finally convinces every “online marketer”, “social media guru” and “eBook entrepreneur” that they should, once-and-for-all, turn off Twitter auto-direct messaging.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, you’re lucky. Basically, some Twitter marketing software like SocialOomph and TweetAdder allow you to set up canned, automated welcome messages that are immediately sent to a new follower once you have followed them and they follow back. The message usually looks something like this:

This auto-direct message on Twitter gives you an offer to promote traffic to your Website

This auto-direct message on Twitter gives you an offer to promote traffic to your Website

or this:

This auto-direct message on Twitter invites you to visit a Facebook page

This auto-direct message on Twitter invites you to visit a Facebook page

or this:

This auto-direct message on Twitter invites you to subscribe to a YouTube channel

This auto-direct message on Twitter invites you to subscribe to a YouTube channel

So what’s the harm in sending a simple welcome message and an invite to connect? Nothing, really, other than the fact that they are the Twitter equivalent of Spam. Twitter is supposed to be about building genuine connections with people.’s tough to do in 140 characters or less, but that’s what makes it interesting. And these types of automated messages simply clog up the tubes, making our Direct Message inboxes almost worthless.

In fact, I almost missed an direct message from a friend tonight because I have desensitized myself to the tons of junk that come into my Twitter inbox every day.

So…one last plea to the masses. I know it seems like a good idea to say “hey” to your new followers. It is a good idea. Send them a public tweet. Welcome them…don’t sell to them or invite them to connect on other channels. If they want to, they’ll find their way there.

In the meantime, because I know this is likely an effort in futility, I’m asking for a little divine intervention.

Dear God Please Add Thou Shalt Not Send Auto Direct Messages On Twitter As The 11th CommandmentFeel free to share and spread the word. Who knows, maybe the message will get out this time and everyone will turn off the auto-messaging.



Comments And Reactions

  1. Have a Fantastic Friday and Super Weekend!

  2. Sean, some questions . . .

    #1 – The 3 examples on top, do you unfollow them ?
    #2 – How do you choose who to follow-back or is that step kinda automatized too from your side ?
    #3 – tons of junk – you have about 4x more followers than I have. I hardly get ‘tons’. How many direct messages precisely do you get per day ?

    I agree basically that I prefer a bit more effort on the net. So everybody who is more shallow . . . doesn’t stay long in my list.

    • Andreas,

      1) Generally, I don’t unfollow them for the simple auto-DM faux pas. Instead, I check their feed to see if they also have useful information. I followed them for a reason, so I’m not going to penalize them for one mis-step. I have considered sending people a link to this article after they auto DM me.

      2) I really only follow people who offer value to my feed. I rely heavily on Twitter to provide me with thoughts/news/insights on social media, so I don’t auto-follow people and I’m not a fan of people who follow the #followback methodology. I only want people to follow me if they find my tweets/posts useful.

      3) The junk is getting crazy. The more followers/connections, the more spam. I actually get about 20 DMs each day and about 15 of them are auto-DMs. Yech!!



  3. Hey – been there done that and guilty as charged – only thing is I woke up one day with a conscience and decided that this is not who I want to be nor what I should be doing.

    Now I’m helping others to connect to real people, to solve real problems in real life. You know the one that interrupts our Facebook and Twitter streams from time to time 🙂

  4. I hear you Sean, auto DM is a pain in the posterior. Have a nice weekend. Thanks for the post.

  5. Sterling Dee says:

    Absolutely agree. It`s really annoying on high volume business accounts especially.

  6. I completely agree. It’s so fake friendly.

  7. Nail on head!

  8. Love it! Auto DMs are one of my pet hates on Twitter, a trend I hoped would die out, but it seems to be getting more popular!

  9. Harold Gardner says:

    It’s brutal out there. I wish they would pay attention to you, but I sadly think that there is as much chance as stopping all the spammers.

  10. I hear you Sean, auto DM is a pain. Thanks for the post.

  11. NewsMeBack says:

    This is one of very annoying things online

  12. I automatically follow back and get annoyed by the people that do an auto-reply to my follow back, and then they unfollow. What was the purpose of that exercise? I unfollow automatically also.

  13. I had no idea those were automated. That kind of annoys me now

  14. The twit verification service is the one that drives me crazy. The only way for me to not get those messages is to sign up for the services (or unfollow the person who is signed up for it).

    Too many false positives (real people not verifying) to make the service worth trying.

  15. Oh man! I’ve got too much to learn. I didn’t even know about auto DM’s. But, now that you mention it… I have seen a few of them. Good content worth sharing… but, I must admit, I’m tempted to check out some of the sources!

  16. Annoying but hardly a crisis, IMO. People are trying to figure a way to monetize – hope they figure it out!

  17. So you don’t like auto DM’s? Pretty simple solution, don’t send them & unfollow anyone that sends them to you. For some niches they are incredibly useful though, I’m a social media marketer and whilst on the whole I stay away from them I have a couple of accounts that respond extremely well to auto DM’s.

    Get off your high horse & stop telling people what to do – especially with religious undertones!

    • Ed,

      I’d be interested to hear how DMs actually work for you and what metrics you consider to make them a success. Help me understand the value. From the overwhelmingly positive feedback I have seen on this post and image, I’d say most people truly despise Auto DMs on Twitter. Rather than just lecturing on why I should stop hating them, share what you think makes them successful.



  18. And yet they seem to be as popular as ever!
    So much so that I would rather not have an inbox as only a fraction of the rubbish I get is a genuine interaction with a human being.

    I run social media accounts for a number of brands and so am probably more exposed to this than most people (more Twitter accounts to check) and I often worry about missing genuine messages.

    I cannot imagine what possible value this would bring – unless you are hoping to dupe your followers into thinking that you are genuinely contacting them – and if that is the case, it doesn’t suggest that you have a lot of respect for them.

    At best it’s annoying – at worst it must lose so much business!!

  19. I’m very new to this social thing, only having really done anything much with LinkedIn and Twitter in the last month or so. I was considering sending a direct message just thanking people for following, saying “many thanks for the follow, I hope my posts are useful to you!”. But from what I read here, even that would only clutter peoples inboxes and not be welcome?


  20. There are NO absolutes is only the second absolute I know. Yours is false. While the vast majority of DM is junk, auto or otherwise, there is likely for the discerning mind, an appropriate use of an auto DM. Your mantra is a mind virus for the uninformed and too lazy to make something work correctly. A near majority of those responding in the affirmative follow me at one or more locations. The remainder never will.

  21. Great Post Sean, automated DM is a pain it takes forever to delete them out. Thanks for the post.

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