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3 Reasons Why Twitter Auto DMs Are a Bad Idea for Lawyers

In a profession where personal networking is the lifeblood, there are no compelling arguments in favor of lawyers on Twitter using tools that automatically send direct messages to new followers.

  1. It’s insincere – An automated “Thanks for the follow” typically has the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of conveying genuine gratitude and courtesy, it fairly screams “I read somewhere that this works.”
  2. It’s presumptuous – Increasingly, auto DMs contain an invitation and links to “follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn,” or worse, an offer for a “free consultation” — the social media equivalents of trying to go straight to second base.
  3. It’s alienating – Here I’m thinking specifically of TrueTwit, a follower verification service. If you haven’t encountered this yet, when you follow a TrueTwit subscriber, you get an auto DM asking you to join TrueTwit in order to follow that subscriber. Really? You’re so afraid of bots and spammers that real people have to apply to follow you? Pass.

If you really want to express appreciation in a way that will get your new followers’ attention, retweet one of their recent posts. It says more than “thank you”; it says “I’m listening.”
Heidi Cohen also considers auto DMs a social media #FAIL in general, but offers some helpful tips on when they are appropriate.
  1. On vacation or leave of absence. In this case, you need to give people alternate contacts.
  2. Offline for an extended period of time. You may not want to disclose the details but want people to know when you’ll be back.
  3. Changed jobs. If you’re the person behind the brand, you must explain the new contact
  4. Changed Twitter handles. In this case you need to re-direct followers.
If you’re an auto DM believer, I’d love to hear about it.

Comments

  1. lainlalaland says:

    My question is…who told these lawyers to auto DM? Who gave them the impression this was a good idea?

    • FollowtheLawyer says:

      @lainlalaland Thanks for reading the post! Every Twittiquette primer advises sending an acknowledgement/thanks to new followers, and I certainly endorse that view. But in the same way that e-mail messages have replaced hand-written notes, some people can’t be bothered to monitor their Twitter account for new followers in order to send them a short, personal tweet. Put another way, they follow the letter of Twittiquette, but not the spirit. So I don’t think that lawyers have been advised poorly; rather, they’ve made poor choices based on good advice.

      A DM is bad enough in itself, but using a DM to hawk followship on other social networks is a misapplication of what big transactional brands and celebrities do, where impersonal exchanges of information are the currency and accepted. Mass market (by that I mean non-law firm) social media marketers cringe when they say it because it runs counter to the authenticity tenet, but they still recommend asking followers to join you on other networks because, in high-volume accounts, it does help conversion. For professionals on Twitter who would be doing well to get one or two new followers a day, the practice looks pushy and huckster-y.

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