the best auto-post-follow DM

I’m not a big fan of auto-thanks-for-follow direct messages on Twitter. In part because I’ve received enough of them that each one feels less personal than the last. And in part because I’ve thought about creating one for @PhxArtYC, a rogue account that I created to support the Phoenix Art Museum and the Young Collectors, but I have yet to draft one that feels personal. The bottom line is that an auto-DM can never be personal because automatic is not personal.

This is not to say that they can’t be useful, or even well received. The best auto-post-follow DM I received was from Scott Monty, the head of social media at Ford Motor Company. It was a simple thanks plus “If you ever want to get my attention, just “@” me.”

At the time, I didn’t initially know Scott’s DM was an automated response. I thought I was special. Scott, social media guy for Ford with thousands of followers, had followed me. Little ol’ me. I presume because our names came up in tweet(s) about a poker game with several other notable individuals following the Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer in Scottsdale in late October.

I immediately reciprocated Scott’s follow, received said DM, and DM’d my own reply. He responded once more, closing with “Nice hanging with you at the poker table.” In truth, we were on opposite ends of the table, and I don’t recall any one-to-one conversation between us. Hardly a direct connection. But I still thought I was special.

Within a week, I learned that first exchange was an automated response. So much for thinking I was special. Burst bubbles aside, months later, Scott’s message still counts as the best auto-post-follow DM I received for two key reasons.

  1. He didn’t ask me to go to his blog. Or Ford’s site. He didn’t promise to look at my profile or read any of my tweets. He invited conversation with by simply suggested the best way to engage him – not privately via DM, but publicly in open discourse.
  2. He provided context. Context links to meaning. Meaning links to relevance. And by referencing the shared experience of playing in a relatively intimate poker game, he made the sum of the exchange personal.

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  1. #1 by Scott Monty on January 5, 2009 - 11:08 am

    Awww… you ARE special! Don’t sell yourself short. I’ve checked in on your blog here since the MP conference and I think you’re doing some great work.

    And the only reason we weren’t seated near each other at the poker table is because I didn’t want your bad luck rubbing off on me. 😉

    Thanks for writing about this – I know it’s been a hot topic lately and I’m glad I was able to come out on the fairly positive side.

  2. #2 by Ms. Herr on January 5, 2009 - 11:19 am

    Thank you Scott. Though I will have you know that I ended up $200 on that night, a performance I then repeated a few weeks later at the AZ Entrepreneurship Conference.

  3. #3 by Katie Van Domelen on January 7, 2009 - 9:17 am

    This is a great. When I wrote my recent rant about automated Twitter responses I included the caveat that they are just tools and if used correctly they could be useful tools. At the time I didn’t have good examples for ways each tool was used effectively so thanks for sharing this story. Basically I’m thinking that an auto message can work as long as it invites further conversation rather than seeming to cut it off cold.

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