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Wednesday 24th July 2024

Why Automated Direct Messages on Twitter Need to Die… Right Now!

Mon 5th Jan 2015
By Todd

OK. I’ve had it. I’m really frustrated and I’ve just decided that the only way to feel better is to rant blog about it.

From time to time (OK, every day) I get frustrated with some of my fellow human beings and the way that they use my favourite social media platform – Twitter.

The thing is, Twitter is really good. In fact it’s great. I’d go as far to say that it’s amazing and life-changing. It changed my life (true story).

But if you attack it like another automated tool and link in everything else you’re doing by pressing a button then it really REALLY isn’t a cool thing anymore.


Twitter is a SOCIAL media platform. You know what I mean. SOCIAL media. That means it’s really just a place to network and get friendly with people. People buy from people (total cliché, but I’m using it anyway) and when you make connection with people it’s all good for your business and development.


Automatted Direct messages on Twitter

Why Automated Direct Messages on Twitter Need to Die… Right Now!

So I present to you the automated Direct Message. Formerly the home of excitement on Twitter

Often the DM box is a place to share an email address or phone number or meeting place. It can (and used to) be a very exciting place where all the magic happens. It’s where the real connections are.

But it’s all gone tits up. The ‘auto DM clan’ have well and truly screwed with all the magic. Now the DM section of Twitter is a minefield of spam and click-bait.

Instead of great connections I’m now faced with robotic, unwelcome, uneducated, unfriendly, spammy, ignorant, cold, stupid pointless automation!


Are auto DMs really that bad? (Todd’s small test) Note: not at all scientific!

I got thinking. Maybe these things actually work? Maybe (because gurus use them) I should use them? Maybe I should eat humble Twitter pie and auto DM my new connections?

So I’ve been giving the auto DM clan a chance to explain themselves. I’ve thrown down the gauntlet to the automated monkeys in my inbox and asked something of them. Not much, but something to test my theory.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been replying to auto DMs. I’ve replied to random DMs that popped into my day and pinged their way into my attention and asked them to respond. I replied in their tone and in response to their exact message.


  • If they asked me to download or check out their eBook I said, “Thanks I’ll check it out.”
  • If they said I hope you look forward to my tweets I said “Me too!”
  • If they automatically sent me a DM with a generic welcome I replied and tried to start up a conversation with them; “Hey there, thanks for the message. I see you do XXX. Tell me more?
  • Some people even DMd me offering me help with followers on Twitter or running my account. I chortled and replied, “Hey there. Thanks but that’s what I do too. How’s it going?”


So I’ve been doing this and I’ve been giving them a chance. Everyone deserves a chance, right?! So, what did I find?

Well (in an unscientific report not at all backed by science and presented without a white coat) I’ve found that they don’t bloody care what I have to say.

Granted, I may not have been overly friendly to them all but these were different folk from different businesses and walks of life. They were a random mix of people.

No one replied! (Well one person did in an attempt to not look automated, but on the whole, no one replied).


  • I said I’d check out their eBook and they didn’t follow it up.
  • They didn’t try to talk to me when I attempted a conversation.
  • I replied to their generic welcome with a ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ and they ignored me.
  • The fellow social media managers who offered me help with my Twitter account weren’t even interested in chatting shop. How odd.

So my conclusion can only be that these people aren’t really there. Their account is a robot. It’s run by R2D2 or Johnny 5 and when I respond, they just can’t compute.

“Someone replied?? Error: #1532. Response: Act daft and ignore it.”


Why would you bother greeting someone – a human, a real connection – with an automated message?

I get that people are busy and there’s a need to automate. Heck, we automate our invoicing to save time and effort. We decided hand written notes with a fountain pen and hand-tied ribbon were not particularly helpful in reducing our 15 day pay window.

But automate connecting? Automate being human?


  • If I meet someone in a queue or on the Tube I don’t ask them to read my eBook before saying hello… so I don’t do it on Twitter.
  • When I talk to someone at a networking event I don’t tell them to read my online content before I speak to them… so I don’t do it on Twitter.
  • When someone replies to my ‘hello’ during a training workshop, I don’t ignore them… so I don’t do it on Twitter.
  • If I meet someone in life I don’t reply with a generic hello and completely disregard everything they’ve just told me in their introduction… so I don’t do it on Twitter.


Please stop this madness, as it isn’t getting you any fans from people like me!

It could grow your email list I suppose, but then I doubt people will give you an email right away anyway. And how engaged will they be?

It may be helping you manage your mass of fans and it might just be getting you some interest. But try saying hello properly and see how that goes.

So this is my open letter to the spammy DM clan.

Stop the madness this January. Try to be human and give R2D2 a rest.


Now it’s your turn…

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences from both side of the tables so reply in the comments and I WILL respond (but without an automated bot!).

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5 comments on this article

  • Jo Hanson at 8:25am on January 7th 2015

    Hi Todd,

    It is such a breath of fresh air to read a blog post on this topic, as let’s face it, this was needing to be said! These actions from some Twitter users had been bugging me for some time now.

    It is so great when you think that you have gained a follower with a good profile of similar interests, but then to be disappointed to find out that they are just another spammer. What is even more laughable is when some send out an auto DM after I have followed them, I then go to respond back, but my message is rejected because they have obviously auto unfollowed as soon as I followed them. I’m sure if these people knew how to use Twitter properly, they would at least allow a few days before they press the eject button on me

    1. Todd at 8:39am on January 7th 2015

      Hi Jo.

      I totally agree about the responding thing. It’s really annoying when you try to reply to a DM but can’t. It’s OK for them to message you but you cant message back? How frustrating!

      I’m sure it works on some level as so many of the large accounts do it… but it’s just not what social media is about. And being squeezed into their sales funnel from the second they meet you is quite frankly awkward!

  • Linda Scannell at 18:30pm on January 8th 2015

    I loath auto DMs. I naively used to reply years ago but often couldn’t because they’d already unfollowed me. Now I just unfollow them straightaway. It’s up there with my other pet Twitter hate – people who follow you then tweet you to ask you to follow back. I always check out new followers and follow back if they’ve got interesting tweets. Asking me to follow them, just makes me not want to follow them! Does anyone else feel that way, or is it just me??

    1. Todd at 18:41pm on January 8th 2015

      Hi Linda.

      It’s certainly not just you. I unfollow spammy people and other people have told me that they do too.

      Not a great tactic but then you and I use Twitter for networking – not filing our sales funnel.

      1. Linda Scannell at 16:11pm on January 9th 2015

        Thanks Todd – glad it’s not just me! I wonder whether they’d be more successful at filling their sales funnel if they didn’t do it. People are much more canny about being sold to these days I think.

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