I was amazed I was with Twitter back in October ’08. I remember following anyone who I thought knew what they were talking about, and tried to follow their suggestions on how to be a productive Twitterer. I also remember how I’d often receive automated direct messages from people. I responded to the first one – only to never hear from the guy again. After receiving a few more unsolicited DMs that pointed me to a product, service or blog that the senders were pitching, I figured out they must be automated. And while I thought that the auto DMs I received were insincere, I liked the concept of thanking people without actually having to do it. So I registered with one of the cool app sites and decided to put my own twist on auto DMs. I didn’t want to just say thanks or please do something that would benefit me – like others seemed to do – but rather, I wanted people to remember it. I employed Robert DeNiro’s Taxi Driver monologue, added a relevant twist and programmed the following script [variable information in brackets]:
“Are you following me [First name]? Hmmm? Are you following me [First name, Last name]? Are you?”
I’d say 75% of everyone who received one of the DeNiro DMs responded (via DM). Most of these went something like this – “Excuse me?” or “Yes, I am. Is that a problem?” or “That’s funny – you must like DeNiro. Nice to meet you.” But unlike the guy who never responded to me back in October, I responded to everyone explaining that this was a neat little auto-DM message. About 50% of these people would then unfollow me. I guess they didn’t like to feel like they’d been fooled. And who can blame them? After all, while I thought it was a cute way of flexing my creative muscle to reinforce my personal brand, the idea of auto DM’ing is definitely not personal. And so I stopped. And I’ll never go back. Why? Because Twitter is the Ferrari of Social Media–the engine of which is real dialogue between real people. Not robots scripts and people. Not even DeNiro.
If you use an auto DM I won’t unfollow you. There are no rules in Twitter. Just be aware that when you’re not looking, people are talking about your automated DM like junk mail.