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Unsolicited DM’s on Twitter and Why You’re Wasting Your Time

Unsolicited DM’s on Twitter and Why You’re Wasting Your Time

Seriously, Pack In the Unsolicited DM’s

When I get notified of a new follower, I generally take a few minutes to have a glance through their profile and make a decision whether to follow them back. After all, Twitter, in theory, is about making new connections, finding new people to shoot the shit with – it’s a social network, after all.

So if someone’s profile has a few things that interest me, I’ll generally follow them back. If their profile espouses support for a totalitarian dictatorship, suggests a fondness for scat-based erotic materials, or simply does not look like we’ll have anything in common then I tend not to follow back – we’re just not likely to get along.

Followers that are heavily sales-based are ones I avoid too. Those followers whose only goal is to push their own product and have nothing much to say that does not revolve around their own monetised snake-oil service are not likely to receive a reciprocal follow from me.

But at this point, there’s a group of people who have begun to irk me even more than the more obvious scammers and spammers. They’re the people who, for some reason, think a follow is an invitation for them to direct message me to promote their shit. Your unsolicited DM is actually not welcome.

Here’s what unsolicited DM’s actually accomplish:

  • I receive a notification on several devices. I take my time to go and read what has been said. What has been said turns out to be a waste of that time, even if it is only a few seconds, and I’m irked. I’m even more irked that Twitter’s DM system isn’t particularly user friendly when it comes to removing these DMs, with fiddly little icons on the DM itself as opposed to a nice, fat, satisfying cross that I can press like a button that makes shit go boom.
  • You’ve indicated the ‘relationship’ is all about you. You’re not following me because you care about anything I say and you’re not following me to build any sort of connection. You’re following me because you wanted the reciprocal follow in order to send me a DM. Since your only motivation for following me was to make me a target for your spam, I’ve no interest in following your links.
  • You’ve shown me you have no faith in your own product. If you did have faith in your product, then you’d let the product speak for itself. But you don’t, so you’ve resorted to spamming. It doesn’t matter whether you’re advertising a book, a financial product or a travel agency. As far as I’m concerned, you now belong in the same ranks as the folk who email me promising me ‘Hot Asian Pussy 2nite’ and penis enhancement pills.
  • You lose my follow.

Now, I’ve nothing against people using Twitter to advertise their products and services. I wouldn’t expect Spotify not to speak of the benefits of their premium service, just as I wouldn’t expect Capital One not to mention how wonderful their credit cards are. Similarly, I wouldn’t expect an author not to throw a few links up to one of their books, or a filmmaker not to talk about their current project. That is all to be expected, and even welcomed, particularly if your other tweets are interesting, witty or in any other way something I can engage with.

But immediately jumping to an unsolicited DM asking me to buy your shit, visit your site or review your wonderful product? Nah, that’s too much, far too soon. It’s the Internet equivalent of meeting a girl and trying to progress from handshake to handjob before you’ve even asked her name.

Of course, many of these irritating DM’s are actually generated by third-party services and are used by people who think they will help their business. I’m sure, someone, somewhere has produced a brightly-coloured chart complete with 1980s sales-spiel indicating that X number of sales were generated via a direct messaging campaign. There’s probably numerous slick-suited men, or bearded hipsters, sat in an office somewhere having just washed their hair in the Gulf oil disaster regaling each other, and prospective clients, with tales of how there was a 0.00003% upsurge in sales as the result of a tightly-focused campaign on social media. With ‘tight’ being used in the same sense as a sixty-two year old working girl would use it – available to all and sundry and with many people slipping through (or out) the cracks.

They’ve probably left off all the people who have been immediately deterred from ever purchasing a product or service from someone who thinks unsolicited DM spam is acceptable though.

And here’s point five to add to the little list of gripes above. If you believe that your time is so precious that customer service and PR should be left to the cold, robotic hands of an automated script, you’re effectively saying that I am nowhere near important enough for you to engage with. While I’m sure some sections of the human species live in hope that artificial intelligence will provide all they need, from arranging their shopping to providing that quick wake-up-wank in the morning, some of us, even sci-fi writers, would still rather interact online with a real person, while we still have the chance.

Finally, one more thing that is worth mentioning – I have no idea where those links go! For all I know, you’ve hidden a few nasties on your website, or simply spoofed a seemingly innocuous link to lead me to the Rick Rolling of my nightmares, complete with Spitting Image puppets cornholing a Courtney Love impersonator while Rick Astley wails away in the background. Why the hell am I going to click that shit if I don’t know who you are?

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