Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Twitter 101 for Politicians– DM’s, @ Messages and Other Behaviors to Avoid

October 10, 2011 By Daniel Ruyter

Great article even Politicians can understand...Maybe??

Welcome to the next installment in the Twitter 101 series of articles. While the title may suggest that this article is specific to those that seek to use Twitter as an advertising medium, the truth is that the behaviors I’m about to describe apply to all Twitter users.

Avoid at All Costs – Direct Message Advertising

DM’s or Direct Messages are private messages sent directly from one user to another in Twitter. Direct messages are not made public and will show up for only the person the message is sent to. The typical Twitter user will receive far fewer direct messages than tweets in their stream or @ messages (explained below).

From an advertising perspective, sending a direct message advertisement to a Twitter user is usually strongly frowned upon. Sometimes a captive audience can be a good thing for an advertiser, but in the case of Twitter DM’s – it’s not. Soliciting a user on Twitter via DM is often viewed as the equivalent to an unsolicited telemarketing call placed during dinner time. They’re annoying, unwanted, and even if the product or service would be of interest to the consumer, they’re often shut down because of the feeling of intrusion by the potential customer.

If you’re looking to grow your business through Twitter, avoid sending unsolicited direct messages to your Twitter followers.

Use With Caution – @ Message Advertising

At-Messages (@ messages) are similar to direct messages except that they are made public. An at message will show up both in the sender’s Twitter stream as well as in the recipient’s stream as a special message sent directly to them. At-messages are are a way of grabbing the attention of another user and are seen as slightly less intrusive than a direct message. At-messages can serve a few legitimate purposes including the Twitter equivalent of a carbon copy, a casual mention to another user or an “FYI – please review the content of this Tweet.” At-mentions can be very a powerful tool because they let another Twitter user know (as well as all of YOUR followers) you’re aware of them (and/or their content).

Sending at-messages to another user with the purpose of advertising can backfire. Not only will the advertisement be sent to the intended recipient but will also be visible in your own Twitter stream. If your stream is full of at-messages to individual users that are clearly advertisements you’re at risk of being black-listed as a Twitter spammer. If a user expresses interest or requests information on your product or service, an at-message may be appropriate but avoid unsolicited at-messages for advertising purposes.

Advertising With Auto-Responders in Twitter

It’s possible to use a tool in Twitter that automatically sends users a direct message when a certain event occurs such as you receive a new follower or a follower sends you a direct message. Auto-responder messages should be used extremely sparingly for advertising purposes. I strongly discourage the use of auto-responder messages to promote a specific product or service to followers. Auto-responders take unsolicited direct messages and at-messages a step further and make them clearly automatic and, therefore, impersonal.

Auto-responder messages may be appropriate as a “Thank you” message to new followers or to advertise a non-revenue resource such as a Facebook page or freebie. If you’d like to encourage new followers to also visit and “Like” your Facebook page or download a free guide or resource, an auto-responder message may be appropriate.

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