Maybe the title of this post should have been “Why Automated DM’s on Twitter are Killing your Reputation”, but I hate long (and negative!) titles so that one didn’t make the cut.
But seriously, the only person who thinks that receiving an automated direct message (DM) on Twitter is “cool” is the person setting it up.
Usually the decision to send out automated DM’s is made a small business owner who thinks that any interaction is good, after all it’s being social and isn’t that the point of social media? I’d have to say a big “No” to that.
If someone’s followed you there might be a reason.
See if you can find out why they followed you, sure there will be a number of random followers that have just followed you to try to market themselves but amongst those there will be your customers – the people who pay your wages!
If they’ve got a problem do you really want to be sending them an automated “thank-you for following” message? It’s likely to be viewed negatively whereas a “I see you’ve had a problem with X, is there anything we can help with?” will not only (hopefully) be positively received you’ll be remembered once the problem is sorted.
And another thing to consider while you're dumping the automation is to get rid of the follower validation services that send out the ‘click this link to validate yourself’ links – trust me when I say they will likely confuse or annoy your followers, after all you don’t ask a customer to prove their identity when you answer a phone call so why do it on twitter?
It’s not being social if there’s no thought going into the message.
British supermarkets gave up on the idea of using “greeters” in most of their stores a long time ago because most people saw them as an annoyance, a hurdle to jump before getting into the store – after all, you’re there to pick up some groceries, not to make friends!
The same principle of relevance and intention applies to Twitter. People are there to engage in conversation (mostly) be it to keep up with information on your business or to contact you with problems or (hopefully) praise. By sending a “Thanks for following, please visit our website at my_great_website” tweet to every new follower you’re telling people that you treat twitter as an afterthought, something you’ve set up and left to be run by a computer programme.
So scrap the automated messages and log into twitter, look through your followers and check out some of them and get interacting.