Automated Direct Messages (DMs) on Twitter: I know I’m not the first to complain about this practice. I’m damn sure I won’t be the last.
On the one hand, I get it. There are so many voices on Twitter that standing out from the crowd seems an impossibility. You’ve attracted a few followers, but how do you get them to do what you want?
“I know,” said some jackass. “Let’s start spamming them!”
This happens so often that I even edited my Twitter bio to make it clear, if you send me an automated DM or any other form of advertising, I unfollow you. If you’re trying to shill a product, such as your novel, then I’ll add it to a database I’ve started to make sure I never buy it.
Once you resort to automated DMs, I’m not even interested in stuff you’re giving away for free. If your end goal is to annoy me, then congratulations, you have succeeded. Give yourself a cookie and smile warmly to yourself. However, if your objective is to generate sales, follows, fans, etc. then put the cookie down, because you don’t deserve it.
I understand that somehow, this must work. There are a lot of irritations on the Internet that must attract business, or people wouldn’t do them. Exit popups on websites, for example. Popups in general, for that matter. Those fucking irritating full-screen overlays that occur ten or fifteen seconds after you begin reading somebody’s content. They really do annoy the crap out of me.
Automated DMs: A Special Kind of Evil
Twitter DMs, however, are even worse. You see a website doesn’t know you from Jack. It isn’t a sentient being – yet – and it is governed by a code that tells it what to do. Obviously, some arsehole programmer has, at some point, coded it to behave in this manner. However, they’re doing this because the logic is they’ll catch some fish in the net and get them to subscribe to a newsletter, sign up for some discount voucher, or whatever. What’s key to this arrangement is that people who enter their details are inviting the site owners to communicate with them.
Following You on Twitter is Not an Invitation for You to Spam Me.
A follow is nothing more than the result of a perusal of someone’s feed, a burgeoning interest and a desire to see more. The moment that automated DM shows up in my inbox, however, any interest vanishes. Do you know why? Because you’ve indicated with that one action that you’re a selfish git. You’ve become the Twitter equivalent of the websites I talk about above: reducing everyone to a possible mark and not a human being.
Social media is about being social, oddly enough. Yes, it can be used as a marketing platform, but it’s not exclusively a marketing platform. It’s about building connections. If you think that your book is brilliant, then wow me with your words. Tantalise me with your personality. Enamour me with your wit and intellect. Seduce me into buying it because I need to know more about how your mind works and what stories you have to share.
Automated DMs Are Lazy
If you are relying on automated DMs, frankly, I think you’re lazy. And then I’m likely to believe that the laziness will show in your writing, or whatever product it is that you’re shilling. Reading a book is a commitment. Every minute I spend reading yours is a minute not devoted to writing mine, or reading a different book, or watching a film, or doing any other thing I might want to do. Why would I waste my time if I am now prejudiced towards a work because of the author’s contempt for their audience?
Automated DMs are cold. They are robotic. An automated DM is no different than receiving an unsolicited email. You might as well be telling me I’ve won the Saudi Arabian lottery, or that you are the deposed King of Nigeria and want to give me billions of dollars.
Pack it in. Of course, I know you won’t. You’re almost certainly spending money on this service and you must be getting a return from it. Bully for you.