Author: Jaculynn Peterson

Why Twitter auto DMs are a bad idea

Using auto direct messages (DM) on Twitter is a bad idea.

It was a bad idea when I first joined Twitter in June 2008 – a time when there were fewer than 500,000 Tweeple in the Twitterverse. And it’s a worse idea now…particularly with 75 million users on Twitter. Why?


1. Auto DMs are spam – unsolicited and unwelcome mail. To top it off, many Twitter users also get email notifications about their DMs, so it’s actually more like a one-two spam punch – in the face. Why would anyone choose to welcome people to their “community” this way?

Welcome to <Twitter Name Here> on Twitter. We hope you enjoy experiencing learning with us.

Thank you for following the writers of <New Pub Name Here>. We are hoping that our expertise will enlighten you and make you healthy.

We produce #environmental awareness posters, decals, much more, helping companies promote #sustainability & #recycling. Please pass us along

Hi there! I’m new to Twitter so I hope you enjoy my tweets. I love solar electricity and if you want to learn about it, I’ll show it to you

Well, you might be thinking, these sound like friendly, well-intended welcome messages. Yes, they are. But they are also disruptive communications as described in the definition of spam (below). They are disruptive because they are unsolicited and may very well be irrelevant to the recipient. Auto DMs are disruptive because they constitute noise that dilutes the signal for relevant information I want to receive and the conversations I choose to participate in.

Spam: A disruptive, esp. commercial message posted on a computer network or sent as e-mail

And, yes, the worst auto DM spam is the kind that is used for advertising:

Hi, thx for following? Are you up to date with social media? <Link Here to a Book on Amazon>

Thx for connecting. Are you attending <Name of Event Here> next week? <Link to Event Here> Discount code information here.

{In the case above I was already registered, which made the spam even more annoying.}

Just because I follow you back on Twitter does not mean that I am giving you permission to market to me. A follow back on Twitter does not constitute an “opt-in” subscription to anything you perceive is valuable to your community.

2. Auto DMs are sometimes viruses – and they appear to come from people you follow. So even if you are using auto-DMs to sell a book or a workshop, how effective do you think it will be in the DM-shy world we inhabit today? Today it is rare that I will click on a URL in a DM…unless I am “expecting” specific information from a fellow Twitter user.

3. Auto DMs are for robots, not humans. Social media is about human and personal interaction. If you don’t care enough to take the time to personally “welcome” someone on Twitter, then you shouldn’t do it at all.

In my opinion, Twitter DM should be a sacred channel. It should be used conscientiously and for those moments when you:

  • Must get through to someone quickly;
  • Have information to share with someone that is not relevant for the entire community; or
  • Have to take a Twitter conversation offline.

With almost 8 million users on Twitter it has become rather noisy – not just from the auto-DM spam, but also from the grumblings of the unhappy Tweeple – like myself – who are on the receiving end of that spam.


So, if you are looking for a way to be unfollowed before your first conversation on Twitter begins or to lose loyal followers, then try using auto DMs.

Granted, there are some people may choose to unfollow auto DMers and others who may unhappily tolerate it – which is mostly the case for me in the small city where I live. But even if you are not getting unfollowed as the result of your auto DMs, how do you know it is not just because people are being polite and tolerating you?

At the end of the day, I would rather have people happily following me rather than unhappily tolerating me.

How about you?

Chart source: RJ Metrics

5 super easy tips for preparing your news releases for the Web

5tips If you have not yet used Social Media Releases (SMR), here are five tips that will buy you some valuable added exposure until you make the leap to SMR…

1. Include FlickR image(s) with your news release – preferably one from your own FlickR account. If you don’t have a company FlickR account, what are you waiting for? The PR benefits are enormous, particularly for driving web traffic. Be sure to include stock photos in your account as well. And don’t forget to include the FlickR stream in your press room and on your company web site.

2. Use hyperlinks for key words and phrases throughout your news release – If your story does get ink, you want to make sure it’s also getting juice (of the Google, Yahoo and Bing variety). Obviously the links should also serve as relevant extension of your story.

3. For official statements, include an audio file with the release – What better way to illustrate such an important event? It also happens to be the quickest and most efficient way for your message to get published via all electronic media including radio, television and web.

4. Make sure that all multi-media content you submit is “embeddable” – For example, a video that is “embedded” into a news story looks like this. Publishing videos to YouTube, Vimeo or Blip.Tv makes it easier to share your content, which in turn will increase your level of exposure on the Web – much more so than sending an .MPG file attachment of your video over email.

5. Include the date of your event in the subject line of your email – So what does that have to do with news release prep for the Web? Well, in order for the above four items to be effective, your email must first be opened. Journalists and bloggers receive boatloads of emails every day from PR professionals. And they don’t necessarily get opened in chronological order. Some don’t get opened at all. One of the best ways for you to “red flag” your release is to include a date in the Subject Line. This also allows the receiver to organize and prioritize potential stories of interest.

One of the other hats I wear is that of a journalist over at MyEugene. The above list was compiled based on my experiences working on the receiving end of local PR pitches and materials for the past year.

Do you have any tips for preparing press releases for the Web? Let’s hear them!

NewComm Forum presentation by Brian Solis: The New Organization Landscape for Marketing Communications

Brian-Solis-NewCommForum-09 Brian Solis – founder of FutureWorks, PR 2.0 blogger, and revolutionary thinker – presented at NewComm Forum 09 last month about “The New Organization Landscape for Marketing Communications.” Here are the highlights of his fabulous presentation, which has yet to be released:

Solis asked “Who owns social media?” A very hot topic in the blogosphere these days, it was a great way to start the presentation because all ears pricked up.

He said that no one owns it and, at the same time, everyone owns it. The sum of all parts (of an organization) make a whole. And social media affects every part of an organization.

Solis then described social media as “the new gold rush,” where everyone’s jumping in because “it’s hot” and “it’s supposed to be what we’re doing.”

But, Solis says, the question we should be asking is: “How are we going to socialize what we (our brand) represent?”

And who represents your brand in the Social Web does matter. Solis recommended that organizations carefully consider who in the company should be entrusted with the keys to the Ferrari. He talked about “Twinterns” or interns who are in charge of corporate Twitter or other social media accounts. He said, “Are you going to risk having a Twintern deal with a blogger with thousands of RSS subscribers?”

“Are you going to risk having a Twintern deal with a blogger with thousands of RSS subscribers?”

There are other ways to be cost effective.

Companies today are still viewing Social Media from a top-down perspective…when they really need to be embracing it more as an evangelical initiative.

“Social Media provides a fantastic opportunity to build communities and create ways to get other people to go out and do work for you,” said Solis. Each division in a company needs to be “socialized” in order to build these communities.

How would this setup occur in an organization? A social media “team” begins an “interagency” within your organization. The new roles for this new communications agency would look like this:

  • Digital Anthropologist
  • Strategist
  • Communications Manager
  • Research Librarian
  • Support Team

The most important thing to remember is that social media is about sociology; not technology. Effective immersion into this world requires experience, insight and perspective…solidified by interaction…and measured by relationships.

Photo Credit: Kenneth Yeung –

NewComm Forum: Trends, tips and thoughts about evolving social web communications

Before tactics, you need strategy. Before strategy, you need research. The analysis of your research will ultimately open doors to new ideas, opportunities and directions. Only then will you have insight.

“Research without insight is just trivia.” – Katie Delahaye Paine

Put simply, the 2009 NewComm Forum was a hotbed of insight dispensed and discussed by the new media communications elite. As appropriate for a research firm-sponsored event, the presentations and discussions were littered with heaps of advice and best practices.

ShelHoltz_NewCommForum09 Held in San Francisco, from April 26-29, the Forum catered to about 400 professionals from the communications, media and marketing industries. I honestly had difficulty choosing between the sessions – which were highly relevant and practical, as well as forward thinking. From the “New Business Models for News Organizations” roundtable discussion with Tom Foremski and Andria Carter to the “Social Media and Crisis Communications Revisited” keynote with Shel Holtz, the conference was pure bounty.

Beyond the lack of power strips for laptops, my only disappointment was that I could not attend all of the presentations, which were delivered in a break-out session format. Fortunately though, after the conference, many of the presentations were made available here for download.

The value of this conference is in its DNA as a product of the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR). If you work in communications, marketing and/or media and you’re not familiar with SNCR, you should be. According to the SNCR website, the organization is “a global nonprofit research and education foundation and think tank focused on the advanced study of the latest developments in new media and communications, and their effect on traditional media and business models, communications, culture and society.”

Include this conference in your budget for 2010. Now.

NOTE – Stay tuned for highlights from “The New Organization Landscape for Marketing Communications” a presentation (not available for download on the SNCR website) by Brian Solis. I will also create a separate post regarding the “Trends in Journalism” session.

Twitter doesn’t take a holiday; Neither should managing your reputation

amazon_logoOver the weekend, while some gathered for family dinners or hunted for Easter eggs, and others enjoyed a day in the park, I got caught up in listening to the online buzz about Amazon and the global reaction to its new policies.

I watched as anger and dissent – like mutating airborne bacteria – rapidly diffused throughout the Social Web, from network to network and person to person…all while the giant – Amazon – slept. By the time the global bookseller got wind of the situation, Plan A – which could have been “containment,” the chance to proactively manage the situation, was no longer an option. It was time for the big bookseller to declare a public relations state of emergency and go straight to Plan B: global communication and response.

So what did Amazon do? They emailed a comment:

“There was a glitch with our sales rank feature that is in the process of being fixed. We’re working to correct the problem as quickly as possible.”

Amazon’s reply was like pouring lighter fluid on a fire.

As of this writing, the company’s blog still has not been updated and the tweets continue to pour into the stream with #AmazonFail holding its own as a top Twitter trend. There’s talk in the Twittersphere that says Amazon will “speak” tomorrow – the start of what will prove to be a very long week of defensive maneuvering.

In the end, this all could have been avoided. And there’s no excuse for it anymore. Twitter has proven itself – time and again – as a viable and valuable communications channel…in times of disaster, giving, protest, and celebration.

Twitter – like any communication tool on the Social Web – doesn’t take a holiday. It doesn’t sleep. And it doesn’t take weekends off.

And neither should you…if you care about your reputation.