Should You Use Twitter Direct Messaging for Marketing?

If you’re looking for a way to connect with a fan who’s just followed you on Twitter, how would you do it? Would you take the time to seek them out personally and send them a welcome tweet? Or would you choose to automate a response–such as sending them a private message thanking them for their interest? Would you consider sending a tweet or message with a link to your products and services?

You might be surprised (or maybe you aren’t!) to learn that a lot of people will send an automated “welcome” direct message (or DM). Many companies also use this opportunity to attach a link to their website, another social media site, or their newsletter, with the idea being that more people will click through and be enticed to buy or sign up.

While it seems like a good idea on the surface, there’s always pros and cons to “cold messaging” campaigns. So let’s dig into the pros and cons of using direct messaging for marketing purposes!

PROS

There are some people who claim that by sending a message with a link to Facebook or a newsletter, they get increased engagements.

Some Twitter users–usually people selling personal services, such as consulting or ebooks–swear up and down that they get increased engagement from sending out auto-DMs. They’ll use a program or app to set it up so that when they get a new follower, they send out a private message with a link to their book, website, Facebook page, or some other place. They claim that their signups, downloads, and sales increase when they do this, and they ignore those who claim that this is intrusive or annoying.

Now, some people have tested this and got miserable results. So it’s not guaranteed, which could mean that perhaps it just needs to be studied more. For example, are certain industries more successful with auto-DMs than others? Is it appealing to a certain demographic, such as people in specific countries or age brackets? Well, we don’t know for sure. But this process is nonetheless still something that some find valuable, so if you’re willing to test it out, let us know. 🙂

Some users think that this is a polite way to reach out and contact someone else.

Remember the days when you sent a personalized thank-you note for every gift you received?

Well, there are still some people who thank visitors to their sites with a message built right into the page. There are some who send thank-you emails to people who have left positive feedback on review sites.

To these people, sending a quick, private thank-you message is the perfect way to show your appreciation for a brand new Twitter follower’s support. Other times, they might choose to send out an automated tweet rather than a DM. They do this because if they do not follow their new follower back, the follower cannot respond to the DM. A lot of people find this frustrating. So by sending out a welcome tweet rather than DM, the person can interact with their follower without feeling obligated to follow them back immediately.

It’s a way to see who is interested in the products you have to offer.

For a while, Twitter actually removed the ability for a person to send a link through DMs. This was because they were trying to fight spam–many people had complained about being spammed through private messaging. But for whatever reason, they decided to bring it back again, and boy, are people really making use of them. Many companies send links to a page where you can directly purchase a product or service.

Some people even take it to the next level and use a tool like JustUnfollow to track who unfollows them (then that way, they can make sure to unfollow the person back if need be).

But JustUnfollow also has an option to send a friendly thank you DM to people along with a link. So this makes it incredibly easy for people who use the app to figure out who is clicking and who is getting fed up and unfollowing them.

If you’re interested, here’s what Twitter has to say about this whole process, now that they’ve changed the rules back: https://support.twitter.com/articles/76915-automation-rules-and-best-practices.

CONS

Some people find this to be irritating at best, or intrusive at worst.

On the flip side, there are a lot of Twitter users who really dislike DMs. They find them to be irritating, claiming they clutter up the inbox, send unnecessary push notifications to devices, and don’t contain any valuable information. Others actually find them to be intrusive. They view them as unsolicited marketing spam, and they don’t want to have anything to do with it. In fact, some will go as far as to unfollow and block a company that tries this tactic. Ouch.

Some users think that it’s disingenuous, and they’d rather you just not do it at all.

There are still others who might find it irritating, but it’s not so much about the inconvenience as it is the motive behind the message. They see it as disingenuous–if you can’t take the time to send out a personalized DM to thank someone for their follow, then why send anything at all? To these users, there’s no point in sending out a pre-written private message to everyone. That takes away from the uniqueness and value of a personalized thank-you.

If you don’t follow the follower that you’re messaging, they can’t message you back. That irritates a lot of people.

As mentioned above, if you do not follow a person who sends you a DM, you cannot message them back. Needless to say, most companies won’t mass-follow their fans. So if the company sends a fan a message, the fan can do nothing about it other than delete it or follow the included link (if there is one). This makes for a miserable, one-sided communication attempt that many people find to be a waste of time.

There are a lot of people who don’t even check their DMs–in fact, they hate them so much, they’ll even put it in their bios.

Yes, it’s true: Some are so incredibly fed up with it that they don’t even bother to check DMs anymore. They’ll actually include that in their bio, just so everyone knows that all DMs WILL go unread. That’s a whole other level of annoyance with the concept of marketing using DMs. If you view them as SUCH a waste of time that you won’t even bother looking at them no matter what, then you’re pretty dead-set against it.

In our experience, it’s better to not bother people needlessly, and many, MANY people tend to be in the “don’t send auto DMs” camp. Obviously, the choice is yours–there are plenty of people who do it, and some claim they get a lot out of it, even if it causes some to unfollow them. Whatever you do, make sure you are polite rather than demanding, and give the person the opportunity to directly tweet you if they prefer. Good customer service goes a long way!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

Back to Basics #28: Getting the Most Out of Twitter

How many followers do you have on Twitter? Do you talk with other people on a daily basis? Do you get people clicking through to your website or your blog?

If you’re feeling a little lonely in the follower department and haven’t really seen any new traffic to your site, you’re probably feeling a little frustrated. But don’t despair–this doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to remain this way forever!

That’s because in this article, we’re going to show you a few simple things you can do to get more out of Twitter. None of these tips require a ton of your time and energy. In fact, many of these are simple little tricks that you can easily implement into your regular social media strategy, and you don’t have to spend a dime.

So let’s take a look at how you can get the most out of your Twitter account!

Fill out your profile completely.

twitter-profile-example

Image courtesy of http://instructionaltechtalk.com/how-to-join-twitter/

This might seem obvious, but it’s absolutely crucial that you fill out your profile and don’t leave anyone guessing at anything. Twitter gives you plenty of space to make your page unique, so take advantage of that! Create unique graphics to place in your profile picture and header, and make sure you’ve listed all your important information: Website, location, and a description of what services you provide. Finally, make sure your handle is descriptive of your company. For example, if you’re a plumber, choosing a name like plumber50432 probably isn’t helpful to your followers. But you could choose ChicagoPlumber or ThePlumbingKing or something like that—you get the picture.

For your convenience, here’s a checklist of your profile necessities:

  • Profile picture
  • Header image
  • Bio filled out
  • Website listed
  • Location, if possible
  • Descriptive handle

Find people in your industry to follow.

twitter-follow

A lot of new Twitter users don’t want to follow people in their industry or field because they think it’s pointless to follow their competition. But that’s not true at all!

Twitter allows you to peer directly into the marketing plans of other companies that provide the same services you do. If you really think about it, you’ll begin to see how wonderful this can be for your own marketing strategy. Back to our plumbing example: If you see other plumbers tweeting about a brand new kind of sump pump, retweet them or compose your own tweet about the topic. If you see a plumber who links to a creative contest on his or her website, you can use that as an opportunity to use that as a model for your own contest. Take a look at those with the most followers and see how they build their profiles and interact with others. Chances are, you’ll be able to learn something and you won’t even have to pay a cent!

Make lists of influential people.

This is a great way to make use of all those influential accounts mentioned above. An easy way to collate your most influential accounts is to add them to a list. To do this, go to the person’s profile, select the gear icon, and then click “Add or remove from lists”. You can then name and describe the list, and select whether you want it to be public or private. If you’re watching your competitors, you may want to change it to private. But sometimes adding people to a public list can be beneficial—they might add you back or other people might subscribe to your list so they can also follow your influential accounts! We’ve included some helpful (hopefully) screen captures to better illustrate this process:

example-list1

Select the gear icon, then click “add or remove from lists.”

example-list2

If you don’t have a list created, select the “create a list” option.

example-list3

Name your list, fill out a brief description, and choose whether you’d like it to be public or private. Save and you’re done!

Follow back relevant accounts.

follow-back

It’s not always going to be you who finds the best accounts to follow–sometimes people will find you, too. Keep track of your followers by using a tool such as Tweepi or ManageFlitter. If you find people who are relevant to your interests, go ahead and follow them back! If they’re not, then there is obviously no obligation to do so. We suggest taking the time to block bots as well. After all, they don’t add anything to the conversation, and they aren’t real fans.

Oh—and while we’re on that topic, never purchase fans. Even if you’re desperate to look like you have more than five friends (which, let’s be honest, we all would be!), don’t pay for followers. Just keep finding relevant accounts and following them, and soon you’ll get people following you back.

Use appropriate hashtags.

If you think hashtags are just words used as slang, you’re in for a surprise! Truthfully, it’s not very effective to use Twitter without them. Hashtags are a way for people to find important topics and conversations in real time. Whether you’re looking for information on roofing expos or you simply want to chat about the hottest new shade of nail polish, you can probably find hashtags that will appeal to people looking to follow that topic. You can use tools like BuzzSumo to help you find popular topics and coordinate your posts with current and relevant conversations.

Here are some helpful tips to get the most out of hashtags:

  • Don’t use too many in one tweet. Two, maybe three tops.
  • Hashtags tend to do better when included in a sentence or placed at the end of the tweet.
  • Don’t use any punctuation or spaces. Hashtags only support letters.
  • If the hashtag is long, try making it easier on the eyes by capitalizing the beginnings of words. I.e., #SocialMediaStrategy.

Use photos every once in a while.

twitter_sand_re
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosauraochoa/3939487692/

People will read interesting text tweets, especially ones with links or hashtags. But think about it: Which would you find more appealing—a plain ol’ string of text or something with a bright, beautiful photo by it? Of course your eyes will be drawn to the photo. So take the time to include a photo with your tweets on occasion. You could attach an inspirational quote, a picture of a project you just did, or a new product you’re offering in your store. Be aware that photos do count against your character quota, so you’ll have to plan for a shorter tweet if you want to use a picture!

Retweet others and ask for Retweets.retweeting

Finally, don’t exist in a vacuum on Twitter. No one wants to see a stream of self-promotional spam from a single account. Take the time to retweet others, or tweet interesting articles that you find on blogs and websites you enjoy. A general rule of thumb to follow is that you should stick to 80% tweeting about topics relevant to your business but not necessarily self-promotional; and then the other 20% of the time send out tweets promoting your own business.

You can also ask for retweets! Many people respond to a simple request for retweets—just don’t overuse this tactic with every tweet you send out. And be sure to retweet those that you follow who ask for shares as well!

Well, there you have it. With these tips, you’ll soon see your Twitter follower count growing and your engagement soaring! You can easily start doing these things on your own, without hiring any special assistance.

If you have any other great tips, leave them in the comments below!