By: Mackenzie Maxwell On: March 24, 2016 In: Advertising & Marketing, Social Media Comments: 0

It’s a familiar story that Twitter users are all too familiar with. You login to the social platform to see that someone has followed you. Being the good Internet citizen you are, you reciprocate the follow – assuming the account doesn’t look too spammy. And then it happens: what you thought would be a mutually-beneficial Twitter relationship crumbles before it can even begin. You receive the dreaded automated direct message.


In most cases, the automated message includes a quick “thank you” for the follow and a shameless self-promotion link. The tone is unmistakably inauthentic and brazen. Brands and individuals alike loathe automated direct messages in equal measure. This begs the question: why are they still so prominent?

In short, Twitter direct messages, not unlike fairies in Neverland, have stuck around because some people still believe in them. This idea that automated messages will help you to achieve your goals stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of social media marketing. Even in this day and age, there are still some people who believe marketing is just getting your message in front of your audience. However, social media has changed all of that. On social media, you must create a relationship with your audience, and that relationship is largely dependent on your brand’s authenticity.

Imagine giving someone your phone number and then immediately receiving an automated phone call from that person. You answer and a recording says, “Hi! Thanks for giving me your phone number. You seem really interesting! Check out my Facebook profile for more information about me.”

Is there any chance you would pursue a relationship of any kind with that person? I’d bet not. However, this is essentially what brands that use automated direct messages are doing. Instead of creating meaningful connections with the audience, they are turning the audience away almost immediately.

Still not convinced? Even Twitter itself says that, “…most automation is detrimental to the user experience…” If you want to have more real people follow you account, you need to provide a good user experience. So, take Twitter for its word here and skip automated messages.

Of course, you still want to reach your audience and get the word out about your brand. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to achieve this goal without turning off potential customers. Here are a few ways you can use Twitter to market your brand without becoming a spammer:

  • If you’re still stuck on direct messages, send genuine messages that your followers will recognize as non-spam. The key is to personalize every message. For example, you can reference a specific Tweet you liked from them.
  • Use the “Favorite” button often, but not all at once. Favorite a Tweet or two, and then continue to favorite relevant Tweets as they are sent out. However, beware of favoriting a user’s entire Tweet history in one sitting. This might come across as disingenuous and creepy.
  • Retweet when appropriate. A Retweet is the best way to say, “I like this content and the person/brand who Tweeted it!”
  • Reply to questions and discussions. If someone you’re hoping to connect with asks a question relevant to your audience, feel free to send a reply. This public conversation can turn into a great relationship and good content.
  • Keep it human. This is perhaps the most important lesson. Internet users are becoming more and more savvy. They know when they are connecting with a real person or a robot – and they much prefer the real person.

This is my plea to you, Twitter users: stop using automated messages. It’s annoying to your audience and detrimental to your brand. You can do better! If you’re unsure how to best manage your brand’s social media accounts, give Duncan/Day a call. We are happy to set up an individualized plan for you! For more marketing information and tips, make sure to follow Duncan/Day on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.