Much like real life, there are polite and impolite ways to interact with people on social platforms. Every #mannersmonday, I’m going to answer a question along these lines. To ask a question, find me on Twitter.
DEAR JOHN: When I follow some people on Twitter, they send me a direct message immediately. At first I was flattered that they would take the time to message me, but now I feel violated because I realized the messages are automatic. Why do people feel the need to do this? — VIOLATED
DEAR VIOLATED: I honestly don’t know why people make use of auto-DM. They probably think that by engaging with new followers with auto-DMs, they are building rapport with their community. In truth, they are only showing their ignorance of Twitter as a platform.
Twitter, like all social media platforms, is built upon open communication between interested parties. Direct messages are a valuable part of the system, useful for times like when I won Redskins tickets from the official Redskins Twitter account and had to DM them my name and address. I didn’t want to share that information with my followers, so I DMed the Redskins’ account (after asking them to follow me so I could DM them, an oversight on their part).
Unless you’re also auto-following anyone who follows you, sending a DM is frustrating because the recipent won’t even be able to respond to you. My rule of thumb is that if you aren’t also following the person you are DMing, you shouldn’t direct message them. Instead, use a public @ message to get in contact.
I just looked, and I have 24 direct messages in my inbox right now, 22 of which are auto-DMs from when I followed someone. I found only one of those messages worthwhile, one I received from @GeorgeTakei: “Thx for being a “tweep”–I hope you RT me hard & often! Don’t forget to #FF me if you like my stream. Oh Myyyy, that sounds naughty.” And I only enjoyed that because it’s hilarious, and he’s a celebrity.
Direct messages are valuable in certain situations, but auto-DMing is a practice that needs to end. It’s frustrating, worthless and rude. — JOHN