in Digital Marketing

In the past, I’ve argued against using any kind of automation for Twitter accounts. In my post, Connecting authentically on the Web, I said, “Keep connection attempts human to human; always be personal. You can’t automate human interactions and expect to build trust. Some things are important enough to remain high-touch in our overly efficient world.” I still think automating human interactions is risky, but if you mind some simple rules of etiquette, automated direct messages may have some value for your Twitter followers.

Despite the risk of inauthenticity, some bloggers I follow use automated direct messages to welcome new followers to their Twitter feed. This is where they seem to have some value. An effective welcome message includes a few words of introduction without sounding too personal. It orients the new follower to your social web and helps them learn about you. When automating a message write it in such a way that the person receiving it won’t be offended if they realize it is not a personal note. Do not, for example, try to sound like you’re having a casual conversation. Here are some real examples counterproductive automated welcome messages I’ve received.

Don’t automate welcome messages like this

Hey check out my new clothing line if you have a sec: {URL}

This one doesn’t work because of it’s fake casual conversational tone and obviously self-serving nature. When I sent a DM to the talented designer who sent the message, they never responded. This is a dead giveaway that a business is treating Twitter like a marketing machine. It’s rude.

Shameless plug, I’m afraid…HEY! Check out {URL} for all graphic design and content creation needs!

This marketer is an intelligent and personally engaging professional. However, you wouldn’t know it from the message he has put together. It sounds personal, but it’s automated. If you choose to write a message like this, remember that a follower might message you before receiving your automated message. The personal tone of your automated message may sound like a disjointed reply to a real personal message your new follower has sent. Be careful!

Automate welcome messages like this

You can find free #smallbiz content for your organization at {URL}

This message makes a simple value proposition. It is also congruous with the action I’ve just taken. I thought this person was interesting enough to follow them and learn more about what they had to offer. I don’t know how to craft a better welcome message than this.

With my blog I am spreading financial confidence one post at a time: {URL} Like me on FB: {URL}

Like the last one, this welcome message assumes I want to learn more about the author. It doesn’t ask me to do anything, simply provides a value proposition. Who doesn’t want financial confidence?

Lest you think I’m claiming to be a Twitter expert, let me set the record straight. Even though I don’t automate direct messages, I’ve often written personal messages on Twitter that aren’t likely to be well received – messages more about me than the recipient. I asked them for something, or made a veiled self-serving request. The “don’t do” examples above aren’t particularly terrible, but we do well to model something better.

4 Rules of Twitter Welcome Message Etiquette

Let me give you some simple principles to work with when crafting automated Twitter welcome messages:

  1. Don’t sell! Your new follower is interested in connecting and learning more.
  2. Focus on the recipient.
  3. Use a professional tone – keep a professional distance.
  4. Give something away. Offer something of value without expecting anything in return.

To sum up, your message should be a professional orientation to valuable content you offer at no cost to your new connection. If you do this, you’ll avoid trivializing relationships and turning off people who have chosen to follow you.