Marketers, let’s retire the auto-DM


Been doing more Twitter Chats recently — which are actually kind of cool for meeting like-minded people — and as a result, I pick up followers here and there. I’d say 15-25 percent of the time after I grab a new follower, I get one of those auto-DM messages that reads something like this:

“My name is ______. I built (name of product) for people like you. Join us here: (Link).”

The other version is:

“Let’s connect on LinkedIn (link) and Facebook (link) and Instagram (link) too.”

There are dozens of things wrong with this concept. Let’s run down a few.

What is the point of following someone on Twitter?

Best I can tell, these are some of the key reasons you’d follow someone on Twitter or add them on LinkedIn:

  • You actually know them
  • You’re interested in their ideas
  • You think they could be a client/customer
  • You did it by accident

Those are probably “The Big Four,” right? Except for the last bullet, everything is about building or fostering a relationship, yes? An auto-DM doesn’t do that at all

Rather, it looks like you put an automated function aimed at getting followers for yourself over an actual relationship. Business isn’t supposed to work that way. The goal is supposed to be — ideally — relationships, then revenue. An auto-DM sends the idea that you want the connection, the next step, or someone to look at your product — the revenue side, somewhat — before you build the actual relationship.

Why do relationships matter in marketing?

In essence, the science of marketing is relationships — although we often confuse it by talking about KPIs, ROI, deliverables, tasks, campaigns, Periscope streams, our 2:30pm meetings, our next conference call, and a whole host of other things.

Marketing is a support function for sales. You help define the value of your product/service (or in some cases on Twitter/LinkedIn, yourself), and then based on the information, content, and context you provided, someone decides whether they want to spend money on/with you.

When you auto-DM, it’s not about the relationship up front. It’s essentially about the sale first. It’s tedious.

What should you do instead of the auto-DM?

How about you focus on the first word of the term “social media” and attempt to be social? Here are some ideas:

  • Tell the person how you found them and what interested you
  • Look at the person’s bio and think how their links/description relates to your interests and work
  • Tell them what you’re working on and invite them to say the same
  • Ask them what resources in their field they particularly admire
  • Be organic and have a conversation — don’t just fire off automated messages

This is a major issue with the whole concept of ‘automation’ in marketing. Consultants and ‘marketing experts’ rush in screaming about ‘scale’ and the like, and so marketers believe they absolutely must be automated. In reality, most automation suites aren’t adaptive, and they end up creating behaviors that can turn off your fans and customers.

What should you remember above all else?

Social media is about two things, ostensibly:

  • Building relationships
  • Providing value

When you do an auto-DM, you are doing neither of those things.

Ted Bauer

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