Thanks for reading this. No, really thanks. It means a lot. We’re mates now aren’t we? Can we spend Christmas together? I think I love you.
Ok, that was creepy (and a little annoying). And unless you genuinely relish the prospect of spending Christmas day watching ‘Labyrinth’ on loop, I can imagine it’s pretty much put a stop to any genuine and mutually beneficial interaction between us.
What I just did in mildly molesting you in the opening paragraph is effectively the equivalent of sending an automated direct message on Twitter to new followers.
It’s a practice that, bafflingly, still takes place an awful lot of Twitter, from users who you would expect a great deal better from.
Whatever the rationales people may try to give for automated DMs, the truth remains that many, many people feel they are impersonal, pushy and even deceptive.
The Twitter user experience depends on authentic, mutual interactions across areas of shared interest. To then attempt to somehow automate this, or any, interaction seems entirely self defeating.
Greeting someone who has just chosen to follow your Tweets with an automated message is like shaking hands with a business card concealed in your palm. On the other hand, simply messaging with ‘thanks for the follow’ is the kind of banal noise that adds nothing to the experience.
There is a great deal of talk at the moment that Twitter are making plans to prevent the sharing of links through DM, following an increasing concern about the growth of spam across this particular channel.
Sadly, the ‘hard sell’ is highly prevalent on Twitter and this kind of practice is damaging to the reputation of a network that should be recognised more for the quality and diversity of content and the culture of sharing and reciprocation.
So far the damage has been restricted to the torpedoing of DM as a credible means for making initial contact. The fact that Twitter are now looking to roll out the ability for all users to DM each other, regardless of if they are mutually following, suggests that we could be on the precipice of a spam avalanche. Spamalanche if you like. Even if you don’t really.
If you are currently sending automated DMs through Twitter, have a long hard think about what you hope that message will achieve. And if you still think computerising what is essentially a personal introduction then you, my friend, are no longer welcome for Christmas.
Andrew is Lead Copywriter and Head of Social here at Together. Follow him on Google+.