Twitter autoresponders are used to automatically send a direct message to new followers. All too often they are lame, and perceived as spammy.
Auto messages are problematic, not least because even when they include elements of the ‘personal’ (“how can I help you today?” / “tell me more about yourself”) they’re clearly robotic. And people don’t respond to robots, they respond to people. This is 'social' media after all.
I don’t use them, nor have we configured our Econsultancy Twitter account to send automated messages, but we’ve been wondering whether they can be used in a positive way. As such I have been doing a little research in this area. And I'd love to hear your feedback...
We measure the effectiveness of Twitter on our business, as we do for other channels. Good conversation and the tens of thousands of visitors that a highly retweeted article can generate are great, and that's a big reason for using Twitter, though for us we really want to increase registrations (we put out some useful stuff, and lots of FREE), and hopefully subscriptions (internet pros love our paid-for reports and guides, once they dig into our 750+ report archive). Simply put, the more new people that come along and sign up, either in a paid or free capacity, the better it is for us.
We know that Twitter drives new Econsultancy members (free registration) and subscribers, and will soon start testing an autoresponder to try to further increase activity on our own website, beyond the realm of Twitter itself. Yet it’s a pretty grey area. There is a clear trade-off between communicating the value of Econsultancy to new followers, and annoying the hell out of them. Frankly if we start annoying people then it’s game over, and our autoresponder will have to quickly jump into the deadpool.
So what is the best practice in this area? Is there a way for autoresponders to be viewed as anything other than lame? What is and isn't tolerated?
I’ve created a list of 15 recommendations at the foot of this page, and if you have others then please leave a comment below.
But to find out about best practice we first need to take a close look at worst practice. So, for your considerable viewing pleasure, I have aggregated bunch of autoresponders where my gut reaction was either ‘SPAM!’ or 'interesting', or somewhere inbetween. Links and names have been removed (replaced with ‘XYZ’) to respect privacy, since these are DMs, after all. I’ve also categorised them, loosely. I’d go into more detail but I think they speak for themselves. Now brace yourself...
DIE SPAM, DIE
- Proven results! Sell your product! Increase your traffic! All by optimizing your twitter account
- Thanks for follow! What r u in to? Check This Out - $500K first year!
- hey check out awesome and new free business.
- I'm building a recession proof online business. Would you like to join me?
- We have 4000+ followers, learn how and learn top SEO tricks to get u'r Twitter page on Google's top 10 in weeks!
- Turn50Kto2MillFor the next 2 days receive 10,000 opt in emails to market for free
- Hi and thanks for the follow. Are you looking for a healthier lifestyle or interested in making extra cash? Take a look at this site.....
- This twitter account is for sale contact XYZ
- Thanks for the follow! Learn How to Make $4,000 to $30,000 Monthly While Traveling the World! Free Course
- Are you looking for funds ? Any project. Only $10 fee. SEC verified, No red tape. No questions. Money back guarantee.
PITCHY AND MISGUIDED
- Welcome! Visit for more followers XYZ
- XYZ take twittering to the extreme with 1 of the best Twitter apps out there. this is a must have tool 4 anybody
- Hi! Looking forward to your tweets! DO contact me at XYZ for your web designing needs.
- Thanks for the follow! Here is my new free ebook XYZ... If you want to network call me
- Thanks for the follow if you market online you should check this out send 3000 e-mails every 3 days!
- Want To Learn How Twitter Pays My Bills Every Month? Look…
- Visit XYZ... for the best birthday gift ideas and geta FREE pdf of the Twitter Secrets10
- Please join me. I'd like to recruit you as a spymaster to my spy ring XYZ
TIP OF THE DAY
- Thank you for the follow. Focusing soley on sales is dangerous. Sales may or may not result in cash flow. Turn your focus to Gross Margins!
- Thx, Let's enjoy life & share success the Healthy, Wealthy & Wise Way.
- Nice to Tweet you, I'm looking forward to hearing what's going on in your world. ;) How about hooking up on Facebook?
- Thank you for Following me here, I hope this is a beginning of a lasting friendship. feel free to contact me any time.
- Hi there. Thanks for the follow. Look forward to your tweets.
- This is a bot, but I am not, so say hey!
- Hi! Thanks for being there. And thanks for supporting XYZ - weekdays from 6am on HallamFM. How are you then? I like your top, is it new?
- Thanks for adding me, You are the best.
- Thank you for following me! I look forward to getting to know you. Have a blessed day.
- Thanks for your passion about religion and the world therein! Looking forward to a good discussion with you.
- Well you must have likd something...cuz you followed me...i will let the voices know...they will be very happy
- Thanks for following! Shall we engage in a different type of conversation to become aware of the lenses we use to see the world?
- Thank you for following me. I hope you enjoy chocolate, because that's what I'm all about!
- Look at out YouTube Swiss Trains VIDEO at XYZ
- I’m so blessed that we get the chance to know each other. I truly look forward to getting to know you & learn about you & from you6
- Hi I am sweet and hot Kylie just for you.I wanna rock your world...In my room you can see a hot show I can make your dreams come true.Where are you I am waiting come and view my Bio Page now with my lasted pics
GRACIOUS, MEET GENEROUS
- Thanks for following us, as a "thank you" we prepared a free ereport on niche marketing for you at XYZ
- Hi! We'd love to hear from you sometime! View our site at XYZ
- Thank You for the follow! Please check my website at XYZ and sign up for my email list if you want. Do you have a website? Send it to me and I will take a look. Thanks again!
- Thank you for following me on Twitter. I explain more about myself and how I use Twitter at XYZ.
ASKING THE QUESTION
- Thanks for following me! I'm curious -- what is it about my tweets that interests you, and how can I make them better?
- Hi, I would like to get to know you better. Tell me a little bit about what you're working on now. Is there perhaps something I can assist you with?
15 best practice recommendations for Twitter autoresponders
- Provide value. This is the killer. What’s the point of sending a message unless you’re really saying something meaningful, and giving something of real – or at least perceived – value to the recipient?
- Don’t max out the character limit. Try to be short and sweet, rather than talking a mile a minute about how and why you rock and how it is imperative that the recipient visits your site immediately.
- If you make it personal, be prepared to respond. By asking a question you need to ensure that you listen and react to the answers you’ll receive, and in a timely fashion too please.
- Avoid typos. If you’re prepared to automatically send every new follower a typo-strewn and wholly impersonal direct message then you have remarkable ‘don’t give a shit’ qualities.
- Avoid textspeak. Anybody who writes ‘4’ instead of ‘for’ should be lined up against a wall, especially if there are characters leftover.
- Say thank you, and then some. So look, if you’re just going to direct message somebody to say ‘thanks!’ then it’s pointless. If you want to do that, then why not do it in public? It might get tiring pretty quickly, that’s why, and it won’t look good in your own feed. Maybe a batch thank you tweet in public is the way to go, if you’re that up on manners. Go beyond a simple ‘thank you’ for your autoresponders… have a point.
- Make sure you follow back. Think about it… if you don’t follow somebody back AND you send them a direct message then how on earth are they going to be able to respond to you?
- Keep an eye on your unfollow rate. Before you do this take some time to benchmark the average amount of new Twitter followers per day. If that tails off, then it could well be related to your autoresponders (some people immediately unfollow if they receive an automated DM).
- To link or not to link? The vast majority of these DMs contain a link. Considering that there are links in your Twitter profile you run the risk of duplication, and nobody likes being told the same thing twice (hey: they followed you, so you might surmise that they have already checked you out). Say something new, if you use a link. Avoid repetition (e.g. the homepage) at all costs.
- Make a Twitter-specific landing page. It’s one thing pointing your new follower at your homepage (again), but wouldn’t it be better to create a specific page to explain more? You can tailor to people who visit after following you on Twitter, to help ease them into your non-Twitter world. Alternatively, you could create a ‘welcome’ video. The keyword here is ‘engage’, rather than ‘pitch’.
- Track links. Use Bit.ly or similar to create a unique, measurable link, which you can add to your DM, if you link out. That way you can actively track autoresponder referrals (useful in our case, as we can measure new members, subscribers, etc).
- Beware email notifications. Every autoresponder will create a new email notification to recipients (who have Twitter email alerts switched on). If your autoresponder sucks then congratulations: you have spammed them twice!
- Treat dollar / pound signs like swine flu. Give these symbols a wide berth, especially if they are accompanied by a six figure number and the promise of making that amount in three months with zero financial outlay required!
- Be ever so slightly persuasive. Good copywriters will tell you that it’s not so much what you say, as what you don’t say… encourage the click by teasing the recipient into action, rather than making demands on them. And start the journey before you start the selling.
- Gently does it. Again, the way you write your tweet and the message it contains is key. Anything overly aggressive will immediately send out the wrong signal.
And finally, if it all goes belly up and you receive lots of unfollows / complaints then prepare to pull the plug on it. Remember to test and monitor closely. These tips are suggestions as to what I think will work, as opposed to what I know works. I'll follow up in due course after we've given this a whirl in the real world, when I'll know more...
In the meantime, what do you hate about autoresponders, and which tolerable / good / useful ones have you seen?