So the proverbial poop hit the fan today on Twitter. It started with me calling out a new follower on what I thought was an automatic direct message (turns out it wasn’t). If you don’t know what Twitter is, skip this whole blog post.
If you know Twitter but don’t know what an automatic direct message (ADM) is, you’re lucky. I’m inundated with them.
Here’s how it works: A person follows me. I get the notification in my email. I click on the link that takes me to that person’s Twitter profile. I read some of their tweets. I go to their website if they have one listed. I click on some of the links in their tweets. I usually follow back if they seem interesting and not spammy.
Here’s the part where it gets nasty. As soon as I push their follow button, the little bit and byte elves in the fairy machines in magic Twitterland run and get that user’s pre-made message. This is the dreaded ADM. The elves work their little hands off sending that ADM directly to my direct message inbox.
Mind you, this follower and I have never once conversed. I hardly know this person. And they followed ME first. It becomes evident why next.
They follow me, hoping for a follow-back. Once they get the lovely follow-back, they send a DM with basically the same info in their bio description on their twitter homepage. It’s a link back to their site, which is most likely selling something or promoting some brand or most likely their SEO services.
Sometimes, though rarely, these new followers immediately unfollow me after the ADM is sent. With those people it is evident that they just want to ADM people their websites. I sometimes block them after this depending how I feel that day.
So, back to the poop hitting the fan.
I hate ADMs and I think they hurt users rather than help. Most Twitter users agree with me. Why do I feel safe in making the assumption that the majority of Tweeters don’t like ADMs? I’ve been ranting about this for many weeks now, and I’ve been hitting up Tweetscan pretty regularly to monitor the conversation about them. The positive statements are rare. I’d estimate the total of positive statements about ADMs at about 5%. That’s being generous.
Kaydenclark: @ScottMonty ADM’s this to every and all new followers: “Thanks for the follow! If you ever want to get my attention, just ‘@’ me.”
@ScottMonty has over 6,000 quite loyal followers. When I criticized this DM::
@kaydenclark even that auto DM sounds a bit snobby. “If you want my attention, @ me” ? What, he’s just collecting ppl and not listening? ,
@sconsult got into the mix, and @ScottMonty came on board.
Then @ScottMonty surveyed his followers to tell me whether or not they thought his ADM was personal or spammy. I didn’t understand why I was getting one word replies like “personal” at first. His tweet didn’t show up in Tweetdeck right away.
I made the point that Scott can’t survey the followers who may have dropped him after an ADM. Or, the people who just ignore him, or the people who felt a little shafted but didn’t pay it much attention. It was his unofficial survey, I know. It may be better than nothing since we will never be able to measure properly.
Anyway, someone came out and said I insulted @ScottMonty, and I wasn’t really sure where I hadn’t been respectful. I asked, but got no response.
Behind the scenes was a very polite and mutually respectful DM conversation between me and @ScottMonty. He didn’t agree to examine the real effect his ADM’s have on his and/or Ford’s reputation, but he did witness the firestorm that erupted on Twitter. I reminded him that I didn’t start it, @sconsult and @kaydenclark did. I apologized for bringing him more crap to deal with on an already busy Twitter day.
Strong emotions came out against the ADM’s but @ScottMonty fans came out in force too. I heard from his fans, most of whom were also big time fans of his ADM (some did feel it was spammy, others didn’t realize it was an auto response). But none of them came out in defense of the ADM in general. They seemed to think I was dissing Scott. I wasn’t against Scott. My point was that auto DM’s can exact a price from your reputation and you should be aware of what the majority of Tweeters feel about them.
My fellow PushMyFollow podcaster @banannie added that in Scott’s case, his followers might not be aware of how to use Twitter to reach him or the Ford Company, so his ADM isn’t as offensive as others. I considered this. I’m still thinking about it.
In another DM conversation, @gahlord called the issue a “great topic with lots of feelings on both sides.” Again, I only saw passion for @ScottMonty. I didn’t see much passion for the ADM. One business person came out and said that he needs “eyes” on his website and uses the ADM to send coupons. I noted that this user @RizzoTees, uses his bio to explain that followers get an auto coupon in a DM. I asked @ScottMonty to consider this mature use of transparency practice. I chatted with @RizzoTees for a bit. He says he does get hits from the ADM’s but he wasn’t forthcoming on the real numbers. Another user took an informal survey of her own twitterverse and came up with the dislike side as the majority.
@gahlord, in DM, asked the question “What permission is intrinsic in the ‘follow’ action?” In that same vein, @sconsult asked me if ‘bacn’ might be a better term to use instead of ‘spam.’
Spam is truly unsolicited. You haven’t signed up for anything yet you still get bombarded. Bacn is the stuff you get that you haven’t asked for after you signed up for some service.
“It’s any email you receive that isn’t spam, but isn’t exactly a personal message either. Your electronic phone bill is bacn. Your Google alerts are bacn.
Bacn. It’s better than spam.
Coined by Chris Brogan”
Some may think bacn is a better term, but I still call it spam.
1. Canned meat. Extremely cheap (considering)
2. Unsolicited mail/e-mail sent out in mass quantities. Usually not even addressed by name to the person who receives it.
In gaming, refers to a player who throws grenades indiscriminately, many at a time. Generally an issue in Team Fortress. Although lately has been expanded to include any overused gun/combo/move/tactic/etc.
#2 is the relevant definition here. ADM’s are sent out en masse to every new follower. They are not addressed by name (but just wait. Some Twitter API kid will write a script to integrate the first name from the profile in the ADMs).
Many people see a difference between “ @ me if you need me” and “buy a Ford now now now!” (thanks for the example @KyleRohde). I don’t. Both are impersonal notes that send the signal that you don’t really care to find out who is following you. You haven’t looked at their profile, yet you find that it’s OK immediately cross over into more personal direct messaging?
I use my DM’s for personal messages and chatting. I think invading that space with your agenda without the interest of a conversation with me is rude. You can @reply your message. Leave it out of DM.
But no, @ScottMonty or others won’t @reply these messages because then people wouldn’t follow them. Their timelines would look like an infinity loop of the same tweet, and they’d lose their audience. Instead, they’d rather hide how they are using and perhaps abusing, Twitter.
Some noobs use ADM’s to “thank” followers.
Firstly, why are we thanking followers? It’s cool that someone would like to talk to me but I’m not collecting numbers. I don’t come home from a party and brag that 20 people tapped me on the shoulder. That would be weird. High school kids talk constantly about who has poked them in Facebook that day. This isn’t high school.
Secondly, I’m dubious of the humility in the thanking. Some of these grateful souls turn right around and unfollow me in hopes that they can keep their follow numbers higher than their followees, as if this is some measure of fame. I refuse to play that game too.
It seems as though other people on Twitter aren’t getting the same number of ADMs as me. I get at least one or two a day. You can see how annoying and insincere this can get.
The ADMs aren’t going to stop. People will spam where and when they can. I’d like Twitter to give me an option to block all ADMs.
What do you think? Do you think there is a value difference between ADM’s? What permissions do you give to followees when you sign up to follow them? Has ADM hurt or helped your business? Have you noticed if people drop you after your ADM?
I’d like to hear what you have to say.
I’ve added the screen shots of my Twitter feeds today. Maybe you can make sense of them. I did not add my DM conversations, as they are not public and I didn’t get permission.