Auto DM Use Led to 245% Increase in Unfollow Rate
Twitter has two ways in which people can message other users: one form which is public to everyone, @replies/@mentions, and another private form, direct messages (DM). There are multiple services that have sprouted up that offer users the ability to automate communication on Twitter. One type of automation that many Twitterers use is auto DM, which can be used to automatically send a customized DM each time someone follows you on Twitter. A good portion of the Twitterverse uses these Twitter automation services, yet there are countless blog posts on the Web warning that users find these automated messages spam-like, impersonal and will likely unfollow you in response. Even Twitter has an official opinion about auto DMs that they’ve included on their Help Center site:
Including an automated “thanks for following” message to your new followers might be annoying to some users. We do not recommend, but generally do not regulate, this behavior; if you receive a DM you don’t like, you can un-follow that user and they will no longer be able to send you messages.
While there’s no shortage of opinions out there on the issue, we weren’t seeing a lot of data to back up those opinions. So, we ran a test using a combination of Twitter’s Promoted Products (specifically Promoted Accounts) and Social Oomph–a Twitter automation tool.
Auto DM use resulted in 245% increase in unfollow rate
In our test, we compared the number of users who unfollowed our Twitter account during the week before starting to use auto DM to our unfollow rate the week during our auto DM testing. By comparing these two time periods, we aimed to have a clear understanding of our unfollow rate with and without auto DMs. In terms of messaging, we carefully constructed a call-to-action which wasn’t overly self-promotional and offered our new followers a free and valuable piece of content–our Twitter for Business Guide. We specifically chose content about Twitter since the recipients of the guide were users on Twitter.
For the week just before starting to use auto DMs, 16.5% of our new followers unfollowed us. For the one week where we ran our auto response through Social Oomph, we saw a 40.5% unfollow rate from our use of auto DM–a 245% increase in our unfollow rate compared to the previous week when we weren’t using an auto response. After one week of testing, we paused the auto DMs due to the mass number of unfollows we were seeing and looked at the number of visitors, leads and conversion rate of users who came to our website from the content we offered in our auto DM. The number of leads were so few compared to the number of unfollows that we determined it was more costly to our business to lose Twitter followers than to gain such a small handful of leads. Not to mention, people were clearly turned off by an auto response to their follow and we didn’t want to make our followers feel as if they had been spammed.
Auto DM: A sure way to get unfollowed on Twitter
In short, we advise avoiding auto-response messaging on Twitter. While there may be some calls-to-action that seem non-promotional and relevant to your followers, the use of auto DM is pretty transparent to the user and as evidenced by our data, can very quickly cost you followers. Have you tried using auto DMs? What has your experience been like? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Twitter Automation Tools
While we don’t recommend using auto DMs as part of your social media marketing, if you’re still not convinced of the implications of this tactic, here are a few recommended tools we came across during our research. In our testing, we found Social Oomph’s paid Twitter Automation tool to be the best fit for us in terms of functionality, positive reviews and price ($3.97/month). There are other similar products available as well that have received good reviews, such as Tweet Adder and TwitterDMer.