Has Automation Killed the Twitter DM?

header_postitsRecently, SoGrow, a B to B company that helps manage Twitter use, reported that automatic direct message (DM) tools have killed the impact of this method of connecting. Quoting their post, “As most people use Direct Message just to spam people with their latest promotions, it has lost its relevance to the older audience. Most people don’t even respond to DM-s on twitter.”

Apparently, too many people have auto DMs set up to make an immediate ask of a new follower to buy a product or take some other give-me-money action. So disappointing.

Here’s another great example of a fine communication tool killed by users who want to exploit, rather than build, relationships. Haven’t we all learned from chamber of commerce mixers and other face-to-face meet and greets that leading with, “Nice to meet you. Here’s what you can do for me…” is not an effective business development strategy?

Cultivating relationships is a long-term process. You need to start by getting to know each other, move on to exchanging information to help one another, and then – and only then – determine if there is a way to mutually benefit from the relationship. You don’t meet someone and ask him or her to marry you in the same conversation.
A relationship-building approach is important in every communication interaction, from the smallest to the largest. Never forget to mind your manners and don’t sway from the commitment to building genuine connections.

So, in the case of twitter, don’t automate your interactions! If you want to direct message someone, send him or her  an authentic, originally composed message. I am not above keeping some well-worded templates to draw from, but every message needs to be composed by a human and be relevant to the specific connection you are making. Takes time, but healthy relationships do require an investment of time.

Include in this authentic outreach a real way to get in touch with you. Don’t hide behind a generic email account, a contact form, or a phone number that is never answered by a person. Provide an actual way to connect with you directly. No gets a warm fuzzy filling out a form or talking to an answering machine.

Finally, don’t forget to give. Relationships start with mutual interest, but are cemented by mutual benefit. Offer suggestions for where someone can get information of interest (even if it is not your website.) Help someone make connections. Share a link or a tip. Your value in the relationship increases as you provide help and information.

Yes, use digital tools, but never take the humanity out of the relationships you are cultivating.