An automated DM (direct message) is a private message that an account sends to you as soon as you follow it.
They are usually used to promote something the account holder is selling like a book or an album. While some DMs don’t follow this rule, all of them are impersonal spam.
Here’s the thing: Twitter is a social media site. People use it to make new friends, share their thoughts, and stay up-to-date on current events. Trying to exploit this to market your product is an excellent way to annoy or even alienate 98% of the people you meet.
As an author, I understand the urge to reach out to potential new readers. I’ve found new readers on Twitter. I’ve also bought multiple books that I first heard about from other tweeps, but it was never due to the author telling me to buy their stuff.
In fact, an automatic DM is one of a handful of things that will prompt me to immediately unfollow someone. It leaves a horrible first impression that is hard to shake off.
Why have I purchased all of those books, then?
Because their authors didn’t make their Twitter streams or their private messages into nonstop commercials. Yes, they shared links when their newest book came out and occasionally mentioned older projects as well.
Most of the time, though, they talked about all of the other things that were going on in their lives. Some of them shared hilarious stories about the naughty things their pets did, while others talked about more serious subject matters like grief or recovering from child abuse.
They retweeted other people’s links regularly. I can’t count the number of times that I discovered a new author, blog, or Twitter handle to follow because someone chose to share something that they enjoyed.
Just as importantly, they kept tabs on their followers lives as well. They regularly responded to people who asked them questions or said something they found interesting.
I often saw them cheer for friends who had finally reached a big goal and support others who were going through a hard time.
In short, they were genuine and generous.
So please don’t send out an automatic DM when you gain a new follower any more than you would use pop-ups on your website.
Get to know people as individuals instead.
Build your following one person and one friendly interaction at a time.
Don’t rush it.
Twitter isn’t a race.
It’s more like a party. Slow down, relax, and enjoy the festivities. Nobody is going home anytime soon.