How To Grab Attention On Twitter Without The Auto DM

by Robb Sutton

I love Twitter. In 140 characters or less, I am now able to interact with like minded people all over the globe. As with anything that grows in popularity as fast as this form of social media communication, there are going to be some headaches along the way, and make sure to check to learn the best ways of communicating to benefit your business.

Now…I like to search out other bloggers on Twitter and connect with them. I wish I had the time and resources to search and hand pick every single one of the several thousand Twitter users on my follow list, but the reality of the situation is that is not possible. So…I end up using a service called TwitSniper to find these interesting Twitter users for me.

Unfortunately, while this method makes my use of Twitter much more efficient, it has rendered my DM feature completely useless because of other users setting up an automatic DM for every new follower. Now…do not take this the wrong way. I am not saying you are a terrible person and I am going to unfollow you right away if you have an auto DM setup on Twitter. What I am saying is that the auto DM is a huge annoyance that needs to go away! There are other, more effective ways, to attract attention on Twitter and auto DM’s are not the way to do it.

When I sat back and thought about it, I have not seen one auto DM that actually made me want to click on their link or reply. 99% of them start with these exact words…”Thanks for the follow!”. If I see that line of words one more time, I think I am going to go insane. So…how can you attract attention on Twitter for your website/blog/brand/whatever you are spending all of your time on without annoying others with an impersonal auto direct message.

Attracting Attention On Twitter Without An Auto DM

Your Twitter Background – Your Twitter background is probably your biggest asset as a Twitter user. While none of the links will be click-able, you are able to grow awareness around your brand in a non-intrusive way to those that actually want to see it! This equals higher conversion rates and it makes you interesting. If you are still using a standard Twitter background and you want to actually grow a profile on Twitter, you are behind the 8 ball.

Need some ideas? Check out this post on Smashing Magazine on Effective Twitter Backgrounds.

Occasional Relevant Tweets – If you are wanting to get more exposure for your brand, ebook or blog, write occasional, interesting Tweets that are related to what you are trying to push with a link. The click through rates will be much higher and…thus…the conversion rate for new subscribers and ebook downloads will be much higher! Think about it this way…are you really putting your best foot forward with an auto DM or does it look like spam? Odds are…it looks like spam, so a better converting method would to actually provide worth as it is related to what you are trying to accomplish.

Be Interesting – By being different and interesting on Twitter, you are going to attract more Twitter users…plain and simple. This means that you are not on Twitter to solely push your goods on people. You are there to create a meaningful profile that portrays who you really are. If you expect to create an account, throw up a bunch of links promoting your brand and then sit back and watch the conversions roll in, you are going to fail miserably and become one of the naysayers preaching how worthless Twitter is. Guess what…just like anything else in life, you get out what you put in. If you put in crap…you are going to get even worse crap out of it.

Reply – Seems simple enough. Reply to other Twitter users tweets! This interaction is going to make the other users want to check out your profile and what you do. Instead of pushing everything you do on people that don’t really want it, attract them to your brand through interaction.

Have A Great Profile – Twitter gives you the ability to write a little bit about yourself and include a link to your website that can be seen on your homepage. If you want high converting Twitter click throughs, have a great, interesting summary of who you are and what you do. DO NOT use the words expert, guru or “I can show you how to gain 1,000 Twitter followers a day”. You should put how you are unique and what you do. Those are your couple of lines to convert that Twitter user into a click to your website and sounding like spam is going to get them to jump off your page.

Now…I can sit on my high horse an say, “if everyone took these tips, I could use my DM function again!”. In reality, this is not going to happen and we are going to continue to be flooded with “thanks for following” messages for the life of Twitter. The web is all about first impressions…have you thought about how people see you for the first time?


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Tom - October 27, 2009 - 8:58 am

I tried sending a DM to everyone that followed me. It was effective but I felt a bit dirty doing it. I think just being active, retweeting and replying to people is the best way to grab attention on Twitter.

Lori McNee October 27, 2009 - 7:26 pm

Great post and I agree with your points and found the comments interesting as well. The automatic DM is impersonal and just clutters up my inbox. I do use DMs at times to communicate with other users when I don’t want the rest of the Twitterverse to see my message.

Robb Sutton October 27, 2009 - 8:48 pm

And that is the purpose behind DM’s. I hate it when the useful ones that are used for 1 on 1 communication are buried in the mess!

Thanks Lori!

RicNunez October 27, 2009 - 10:55 am

Good post Robb,
I’m writing a similar post in my blog. I’ll do some reference to your post.

Robb Sutton October 27, 2009 - 1:08 pm

Thanks Ric!

Shane Hudson October 27, 2009 - 11:48 am

Your first point is that we should be using effective backgrounds. I agree, however, the majority (or at least a large amount) of users tend to use applications such as Tweet Deck. A lot use tweet from their phones. In these cases, they do not see the backgrounds at all.

So perhaps another point for the list should be to have a good, unique, avater. Far too many people use pictures that other people use or the default ones. If need be, just take a picture of yourself and put it up!

Robb Sutton October 27, 2009 - 1:08 pm

Absolutely! Your avatar is your first line of attack on Twitter. It needs to define you and stand out on the timeline. (and not look like a spammer!)

Rob Mangiafico October 27, 2009 - 12:30 pm

Another way to interact is by asking questions that your followers would be interested in answering. This is a great way to stimulate conversation and buzz around your Twitter account, especially if the questions are insightful, and you recap the answers given.

Robb Sutton October 27, 2009 - 1:07 pm

I have gotten some great insight into various industries through posing questions on Twitter. Great point!

Mike October 27, 2009 - 1:29 pm

I love the Auto DM’s it helps me know if I made a mistake following someone, so I can unfollow them before their spam starts showing up on my Twitter timeline.

Robb Sutton October 27, 2009 - 8:44 pm

HAHA…I don’t take it that far…but it is an annoyance. Unfortunately…there are a lot of people using the auto DM now that aren’t spam. It used to be easier to just do that…

dj adelaide October 28, 2009 - 3:03 am

yes, i wish that people would stop it with the auto dm’ing but it’s really only an issue if you are randomly following people in order to get lots of follow backs

David Shaw November 10, 2009 - 7:16 pm

Hi Rob

I sent you a DM shortly after you began following me on Twitter.
I don’t usually send messages to my new followers but wanted your feedback for a post I am currently writing..

I hope my DM did not offend!

Robb Sutton November 12, 2009 - 9:20 am

LOL…no not at all. You actually wrote a personal DM to me…it wasn’t a “Hey…thanks for following” themed one. It’s all good.

T. Marshall February 27, 2011 - 8:10 pm

Wow. Enlightening. I’ve never sent an automated DM of any kind. But I do DM to say thanks when someone follows me. After reading this, I realize my handwritten DM might be taken for an auto-spam type instead. I try to add something personal – about their website, blog, etc. but sometimes there isn’t much to go on. I’ll be much more careful in the future. Thanks for the advice!

Nidi Nino July 31, 2011 - 9:54 pm

i used it


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