Twitter Tuesday #7

Welcome to the seventh installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–Direct Message Spammer

Twitter offers us the direct message function for a number of reasons. We might need to share a phone number or e-mail address or even a street address we don’t desire the world to know. We can ask personal questions and favors or offer critique, advice or even correction. Often there is a sense of urgency attached to DMs.

The DM function is very useful, but the auto-DM (automatically generated direct message) to thank someone for following you is…spam. It’s like getting a “personal” message from Best Buy. We know it is automatically generated and, unlike Best Buy, automatically generated messages have the opposite effect. They distance us from the sender.

News flash. I will not have to call my therapist if every person I follow doesn’t send me a “special” thank-you. If it is auto-generated by a computer it isn’t special anyway, so all the sender is doing is causing needless distraction for the recipient.

Some of you reading this might be old enough to remember pagers. Whenever someone had a crisis, they would page with a 911. Of course, then you would always end up with that friend who paged 911 all the time. You would feel the buzz on your hip, see 911 and panic, thinking someone was hurt. Gunning the engine, you’d scream across five lanes of traffic leaving a path of pissed off drivers in your wake. You’d pull off the interstate into the ghetto to find the closest pay phone…just for the 911 friend to say, “Oh, I just needed you to call me back.”

…and then you wanted to kill them and make that 911 genuine. Eventually you would get to where you’d ignore their 911 pages. If they ever had a genuine emergency, they were buggered.

Auto-DMs are like the pager 911 in days of yore, when cell phone giants ruled the Earth.

I get notified when I have a DM. I will drop everything to go look, namely because it may be someone with a crisis or a need. The auto-DM is like crying wolf. For me, it is annoying.

If you want to thank someone for following, just talk to them. Thank them. Even auto-DMs with a question to engage like, “What do you write?” can spark discussion, but can also backfire. What if the person following isn’t a writer? Then the question is just bizarre. The best thing to do is just engage. Talk to people. We are secure enough to understand that we don’t have to chit-chat for an hour with every tweep we follow. Just talk. It’s fun :D.

Twitter Tip–Introduce a Newbie

If you have been on Twitter long enough to have a good amount of tweeps, then you are aware of who your social butterflies are. If a newbie follows and you see she has 10 peeps and is trying…strap her to a butterfly. Introduce her to one of you peeps who loves to chat and commands Twitter like it’s her own cocktail party. I regularly introduce new people to @PiperBayard because she is the friendliest person I have ever met, and I feel confident that Piper will make that newbie feel right at home on the Twitter Monkey Bars tut suite (immediately).

Tweet ya later!


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  1. It seems to me there are a lot more of these. Used to be I got one or two a day. Now it seems like 50% of the people send them. They just aren’t good business. Had one yesterday where there were three links the person wanted me to check out inside the DM. I don’t even know this person yet. Build community first!

    1. I agree with Bob. This is why I don’t check my DM’s.

  2. Great post again Kristen, thanks 🙂

    I agree that auto-DMs suck. It feels like the interest is feigned. Sometimes I’m even inclined to unfollow people because of them – especially if it’s a DM that’s entirely unrelated to me (like the “what do you write” question you mentioned), or when it’s a DM solely to promote oneselve, liked “hiiiii. Thanks for the follow. Please visit my Facebook -link- and site -link- if you’re interested”. At that point I’m just annoyed and am never going to visit any of those pages.

    On a brighter note… I too would like to say that Piper is absolutely great to chat with on Twitter… Especially if you’re a newbie. She was one of the first people in the Twitterverse that I met when I joined! I immediately felt welcome and comfortable! 🙂

    1. Yep! I agree with Manon about Piper – she’s a wonderful twitter-chatter. She makes you feel like a part of the community. Manon is also a fun person to chat with online…always full of positivity. 🙂

      1. Aww, thanks 😀 That’s really sweet!

  3. I agree, Bob. If somebody follows me, I go to their twitter feed to check them out personally. Sometimes I want to follow them back based on their profile or their tweets, sometimes not. But I always say thank you — even if it’s just to tell them I’m following them back. It feels rude not too. In return, I expect a personal thank you (or none, that’s cool, we all have different levels of polite, and numbers of followers!), but I hate it when what I get back is an auto reply with links, frequently not relevant to me at all.

    Kristen, in terms of crying wolf, you’re so right about the expectation/disappointment cycle. It’s even worse when the person isn’t even a person, but a robot spouting the same DUI or Zillion follower twitterish (gibbertwits? twubbish?).

    But just to clarify, are you suggesting that thanking someone in an @ tweet is a more appropriate, less intrusive way to do it? And that DMs for thank yous, even non-automatic ones, are also crying wolf?

    1. Just thank them in person. Just tweet a “Thanks for following!” Then, other people who are following you can get a chance to see this new person and they can follow them too. Thanking in private is okay, but I advise to [raise and thank in public…criticize in private.

      As your following grows, eventually you will get to a point where it won’t be possible to thank everyone personally. If I did that I wouldn’t have time left over to write. But that is a good problem to have. When you are new, I do advise thanking and communicating with each new follower as much as you can and as long as you can.

      1. Thanks for clarifying, Kristen. I like that. “Praise and thank in public, criticize in private.” Great advice. Best,

        • Patti Mallett on March 1, 2011 at 7:02 pm
        • Reply

        Thanks for this tip!! It’s good to know that what I thought was good manners is actually annoying. And it frees me up to do something more important, like floss.

      2. Wait. You can use Twitter to Floss?

  4. What I hate is when you get people shoving their ebook down your virtual throat, come on, how about getting to know others and build a rapport before you do that?

  5. I agree with Bob. These spammy DM’s are increasing. I trash them all, and, if I have time, I unfollow them on the spot.

    Thanks for the mention. You are so sweet! I do love introducing newbies around the party so please send folks my way. I like to bask in the glow of nice people being nice to each other. It’s my contribution to world peace. (I want to say that some day at a Ms. Middle-Aged America Pageant.)


  7. I was sending DM “thanks for the follow” because I had gotten some of them, so I thought it was the thing to do. But, mine aren’t auto-DM’s, so I guess the person on the other end might not know that. I will tweet it next time. The thing I don’t like is when someone thanks you in a DM, asks you a question, you respond and then they neglect to reply back. If they didn’t want to start a conversation, why bother asking the question?

  8. I’m learning new things by reading your blog. I kinda like the idea of thanking people for following me so I’m going to do that. There’s the golden rule after all: do unto others what you want to be done unto you. 🙂

  9. Dead on, Kristen. I loathe auto-DMs. I use a separate email for writing (as opposed to my day job) and my Twitter account is tied to that email address. Getting an Auto-DM is irritating on its own, but when it also makes you think you’ve received a query response or contact from a beta reader, editor or other professional contact it takes on a new dimension – the ninth ring of irritation hell, as it were. Well, okay, more like the third ring. But still, irritating enough to make me briefly consider unfollowing.

    The only person I have actually unfollowed caused it by exactly this issue, too. She sent auto-DMs to her followers (I assume I wasn’t special in this regard) three times a week, telling us to check out her seminars and other products for sale through her website. Ironically, I followed her because she followed me first and because when I checked her feed she made interesting comments that I thought I’d like seeing – without a bunch of self-promoting spam. “Hiding” the spam in DMs was NOT cool.

  10. I definitely need to read back through all these entries. I have not mastered Twitter yet, not even CLOSE! i don’t even know how it works, let alone what strategies to use 😉

    • trish nicholson on March 2, 2011 at 1:44 am
    • Reply

    Yes, I’m a newbie too but I’m learning gradually by viewing all the ‘twitter advice’ blogs I come across. This one is really helpful and friendly. Some sites just say “don’t do this…that” but you explain why, thank you. It’s not a sin to make a mistake as a beginner. I’m now planning my own blog site to start building up a relationship based on sharing as I develop my WIP. I’ll put you in my ‘Favourites’ folder Kristen and hope to find something on blog etiquette soon 🙂

    1. We all make mistakes, and thankfully memories these days seem to be short. Happy you are enjoying the blog and best of luck. Looking forward to reading your blogs :D.

  11. Auto DM’s don’t bother me that much. I generally just ignore. It’s a whatever thing. What really bothers me is public spam and I’m not talking promotion, I talking about when fake accounts use my name to either promote something that I am certainly not associated with or auto send something based on a word a used in a tweet. For example, I once said “babe” in a tweet and that day alone my name was used as hey, we’ve got the best stroller, or hey, we’ve got a great new breast pump…um, way beyond those days, thank you very much.

    The reason why it bothers me so much more than an auto DM is I see it in my mentions column so I think, hey, someone is talking to me, so I need to listen. It’s just annoying and its public and that just, well, annoys the hell out of me.

  12. i always go to my followers profiles to see if I want to follow them back, but I have not made a habit of thanking them. I’m sort of newbie to twitter so I guess I should start doing that. Thanks for the tip!

    1. You don’t have to thank everyone individually. If you get time, great. It is certainly nice. But don’t feel guilty if you don’t. But most people are not so insecure that they need to be thanked for everything, LOL. Just talk to people and you will do great.

  13. Auto DMs are as annoying as Piper is sweet. That’s a lot. Like a really lot.

    1. Aww. Clay, you’re too kind. *blushes*

  14. Great post.

  15. The only pager I ever had was a candy dispenser. Some of my friends had them. I don’t think I really knew what they were for awhile. They were just those super cool gadgety thingy that some of the cool kids had. Since I was not one of those ‘cool kids’ I was never really paged. It’s all good though. I rebelled in 1998 and was the very FIRST kid in college to rush out and get a cell phone, which eventually was the direct reason I married the woman I did. LOL…there’s a story in there somewhere!

    Seriously though, thank you for all of your inspiration and help this weekend at the DFW Writer’s Conference!

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