Advocates may argue that Auto-DMing is a form of engagement that shows personal interest in one’s followers. However, the goal of this practice appears to be increasing click-through rates for links or growing follower numbers.
To get some more insight, we conducted an informal experiment. We used a dummy account to follow many individuals interested in the field of social media. We then sat back and monitored the account.
What we found was interesting. After following 938 different accounts, we received 68 direct messages from 54 different accounts. Some people even sent the same message more than once.
Here are some of the more common examples we received (links and names removed):
- “Got a social media question 4 me? Or get lots of answer in my book”
- “Networking is the way to wealth they say, want to also connect on LinkedIn?”
In some cases it was hard to tell these messages apart from actual spam attempting to phish our account data. We replied to every message we could with a question or witty response that would hopefully prompt an additional response. Of the 32 responses we were able to send, a total of two people responded to us. Any people who would call that real engagement are kidding themselves.
Automation of social media is not always a bad thing; in many ways it can be a huge help. The practice of pre-writing and scheduling tweets in platforms like our own Sprout Social can help you optimize the release of your content. This creates consistency that your readers can rely on and helps ensure the maximum number of people see your links.
One the most valuable facets of social media is that it allows us to connect with other human beings in a meaningful way. Too much automation can defeat that benefit altogether. It can even lead to frustration from followers if they reach out to your brand for a response and find that there is no one onboard the ship. You’ll get much further by publishing and sharing great content — and being more human with your followers — than you ever will by sending Auto-DMs.
John Morrison: John is a freelance photographer, writer, and traveler based out of Chicago. He is a graduate of the Pratt Institute with a BA in Visual Communications. Before joining Sprout, John previously worked for Apple Inc. as a lead creative and business associate. He likes old Polaroid cameras, New York style pizza, and typing in the third person. Connect with him on Twitter: @localcelebrity