Please Complete A Brief Survey About Your Attitudes Toward Twitter Auto DMs

My last blog post generated more heated comments than I anticipated, and ironically, they had nothing to do with the primary theme of the article. Writing about how Facebook is intended for "real" relationships and not as a means to collect virtual ones, I mentioned that Auto Direct Messages (Auto DMs) on Twitter are unwelcome.  Some agreed that these pre-programmed messages sent to all new followers are annoying, but others vehemently disagreed.  So, this topic seemed worthy of further exploration.

If you would, complete the very brief 10-question survey below.  It should take less than three or four minutes to complete.  And once you've completed the survey, please click the "Retweet" button on the top right corner to invite others to complete the survey. (If the survey does not appear below, you may also click here to take survey.)

Please complete the survey only once.  (No personally identifiable information will be requested or collected, although IP addresses will be recorded in order to prevent excessive submissions from a single IP.)

I'll collect data for a week or so and will report all data here on my Forrester blog.  

Thanks for participating!


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.


DM's are a #1 post digital marketing "dont"!


Yes indeed, as your original post suggests, auto-DM'ing me is just about the absolute worst thing a brand, publisher or personality can do after I go to the trouble of following.

It flabbergasts that any thinking marketer would even consider such a post digital spam tactic as viable.


@tkennon | |

IMO, auto DMs are kind of

IMO, auto DMs are kind of like loud Ed Hardy shirts. I thought everybody knew they were over, but for some reason you still see them pop up.

They almost always come off as contrary to what I find the most interesting/useful about twitter: authenticity.

best analogy ever. thanks for

best analogy ever. thanks for the laugh

DMs should not be self-serving

The problem with most auto-DMs is they are self-serving one-way blasts. The same, BTW, goes for the increasing practice of using DMs to blast a message akin to an email.

Here are two particularly poor auto DM practices. These practices always lower my opinion of a brand or individual, and I often often click unfollow.

I follow you. You auto DM something self-serving and an invite to connect on Facebook, but you don't bother to follow me back.

You follow me. I follow you back without much enthusiasm (ie you aren't someone like @augieray), and you then you send a self-serving DM. It was a courtesy follow, and your DM just tipped you from maybe-worth-following to not-so-much.

I have seen only one auto DM with a useful purpose. Kudos to @GuyKawasaki. Guy has been criticized for some of his Twitter practices. His auto DM addresses the concern about volume and provides an alternative account. It is useful, relevant, and not purely self-serving.

-- @wittlake

Thanks, everyone!

I appreciate the comments and the survey completions. it will come as no surprise where I stand on auto DMs (or most of them, anyway.) I was surprised at the vehement reaction I got to my comments about auto DMs in my last message, so I thought a little data wouldn't hurt. Looking forward to seeing the survey results!

I absolutely hate getting an

I absolutely hate getting an auto-DM unless it contains personalized information that has a reason to be kept private. If it's just to say thank you, a public mention would be nicer.

It's all about knowing your target audience

I hated auto DMs in 2008. Then I got over it.

Now I think people who complain about auto DMs are just marketers who only tweet for themselves. If you tweet for brands or nonprofits in business categories not dominated by social media "gurus" you'll discover that LOTS of people and brands use them. And I never see anyone complain.

I disagree with @tkennon above. In fact, one of the things I tell the students in my social media marketing class is to ignore digital DO & DON'T lists related to Twitter. Instead, get to know your target audience really well and find out what is acceptable or preferable in your marketplace.

To that point, two years ago MANY people were still saying brands shouldn't be on Twitter. They were also saying Twitter couldn't be an entertainment media. Obviously, we've moved beyond that. I think the same thing will happen with auto DMs.

I also disagree with Gio Callao. I don't want to read a bunch of public thank-you messages in my stream. To me, that's more egregious than sending auto DMs because it creates unnecessary "noise" for a lot of people. At least the DM only creates noise (that is, if it's not useful) for individual recipients.


Data disagrees with your perspective

The data I am publishing Monday is contrary to your perspective. Survey respondents included people with as few as 10 followers to more than 10,000, but the theme is consistent regardless of tenure on Twitter or number of followers: Auto DMs are unwelcome and more likely to damage than help reputations and influence.

But, as you know, I agree there may be some VERY rare exceptions to the rule. Watch for Monday's blog post!

It doesn't matter what we think

To be clear, I'm not saying marketers should necessarily employ using auto DMs as a strategy, just pointing out that the ship has sailed on that tactic so it doesn't really matter what we think. People and brands have been using them for over two years now and I don't see that abating any time soon.

"Doesn't really matter what we think"

Agreed! But it does matter what recipient think. As I'll reveal on Monday, a significant percentage of people unfollow most of the people who send them Auto DMs. This is true of people with fewer followers or those who are new to Twitter. The fact lots of companies were sending a lot of unsolicited email back in the mid- to late-90s didn't make it either right or a good idea.

Let's continue the debate once I get a chance to publish the results. I appreciate the challenging dialog!

The Survey Results are Live!

Hope you find the results of our survey on Twitter Auto DMs interesting: