Twitter DMs are dead

It’s no secret that I prefer Twitter (say hi to @tdh if you like) out of the social media offerings available. The short form format is something special, in my opinion. I don’t belong to the crowd that thinks adding more characters per tweet is necessarily a good idea. 140 characters might be a bit arbitrary, a relic from texting days, but there are other issues with the platform that are more pressing.

Like direct messages, or DMs. From being all but ignored by the product leads, to trying to take on proper messaging apps, DMs are the forgotten stepchild of whatever sort of dysfunctional family this is supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong, I actually preferred Twitter DMs to other messaging options for a long time, and while the character limit can be a good thing for public tweets, lifting said limit for private talk made DMs brilliant to use.

Side note: Twitter is much like Facebook in their DM strategy. From keeping everything public and making it hard to do anything in private, to trying to enable private conversation on the platform with group DMs and the lifted character limit. This is the same as Facebook moving from “post everything public” to “start private groups” to build your local communities. It all boils down to us, the users, not wanting to be entirely as open as these social media behemoths initially thought, or perhaps hoped. Privacy is a thing, so they need to lure you into feeling that you are indeed in control of your content and persona on social media.

Back to DMs and how they’re dead. It wasn’t Twitter’s changes that killed them for me, it’s all those bloody auto-DMs. For some reason, social media professionals and the services they want you to use all recommend you to set up an auto DM when someone follows you. And you know what, why not do follow-ups on that to make sure that your new follower absolutely retweets your pinned tweet or buys your book.


Thanks for following me. I know your time is precious so let me just get right to the point and tell you about myself. I’m an author from somewhere who’s got a brand new book out, called XYZ OR WHATEVER. I worked so hard on it! You can read more about it and buy it on Amazon.


Please visit my homepage for more about myself.


Oh and could you do me a favor? Please retweet my pinned tweet. I’d love to return the favor if you do that. Just let me know.

Have a great day! Looking forward to the convesation.

Sent with UnfollowspyCrowdfireWhatever. (Want this? Sign up for UnfollowspyCrowdfireWhatever for free!)

Yeah, I’m not going to do any of that. While the above is an adapted version of several auto DMs, because I’m not going to point any fingers here, they’re all about the same. It looks like a parody of social media marketing, doesn’t it?

There are so many things wrong with these auto DMs.

  1. Why are you introducing yourself with something that’s probably already on your Twitter bio?
  2. Speaking of the bio, I bet your URL is there. I don’t need that in my DMs.
  3. I just followed you and you want me to retweet your pinned tweet, just like that? And you’ll return the favor, will you? What if I believe in space monkeys hiding in plain sight as the rulers of the world? Oh and they’re nazi clowns and hungry hippos too. Wait, that sort of makes sense, but you get my drift. I bet you won’t retweet that just because I pinned it.
  4. So you wrote a book or created a product, and you want me to buy it? I get that, but maybe not just throw a clumsy ad my way first thing.

There was a time when I just plain unfollowed anyone who sent me an auto DM, but that just doesn’t work anymore. It’s too common, and it didn’t really change anything in terms of the DM inbox.

The big problem with auto DMs is that they bury the real DMs. I’ve missed a ton of those the past year, people who actually want to converse, not bots and scripts trying to trick me into doing things.

So yeah, good job social media professionals. Way to go killing DMs for the rest of us.