One of the most powerful ways to use Twitter is to leverage Direct Messages (DMs.)
While tweeting is obviously a big part of growing your Twitter following, you can build trust and encourage engagement by creating a one on one relationship with your followers by messaging them directly. Direct messages (DMs) can also be a great place to remind your Twitter followers about a product you sell, other channels to follow you, or any other important message that may not perform well as a tweet, and therefore may not even show up on your Twitter followers' feeds.
As Twitter users with even a mildly successful following might tell you, juggling even a few direct messages can be a time-consuming mental balancing act. If you are a very successful creator, you might be getting hundreds or thousands of new followers a day, and direct messaging each one would be downright impossible.
When you are ready to take your Twitter DMs to the next level, you need to embrace automating your direct messages to your Twitter followers.
My Twitter formula:— David Perell (@david_perell) June 8, 2018
On Twitter, you can meet people you’d never be able to meet in real-life.
Geography barely matters.
Tweet about your interests.
Tweet so the people you admire most will follow you.
Once they do, direct message them.
Twitter DMs are a secret SUPERPOWER.
In this post, we'll review...
- What are Twitter DMs
- Engaging your followers with Tweets vs DMs
- How to send a DM on Twitter
- Why automate your DMs
- How automating Twitter DMs can improve your business
- What not to do when writing a Twitter DM
- How to write better Twitter DMs
- How to create your first auto DM
What are Twitter DMs (direct messages?)
Like many social networks, Twitter allows users to send direct messages (sometimes also referred to as private messages) to other users. Twitter direct messages are only between you and the other Twitter users that the message is composed to. This is in contrast to a tweet (which is like a "post" on other platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn), which will algorithmically be placed in some users' feeds.
Being able to message another user directly can be a superpower, but it isn't without its limits. For example, not every user can be direct messaged — they may have changed their account permissions so only Twitter users that they follow can message them. Given the different ways you can interact with other users on Twitter, it is important to understand how all of your options compare to each other, and when Twitter DMs (direct messages) can really shine.
Engaging Followers with Tweets vs Direct Messages
Unlike a tweet, which is a post that is algorithmically ranked and put on some (but not all) of your followers' feeds, direct messages will definitely be delivered (as long as the account you want to message allows DMs, which are allowed by default.) In fact, Twitter direct messages will both be delivered and will usually trigger a notification when received. That means if you really want to push important information to your followers, messaging them will almost surely get the message to them. In contrast, tweeting something might not even appear on all of your followers' feeds; you are at the whim of Twitter's algorithm, which may decide that your tweet isn't engaging or relevant enough. Tweets also quickly become irrelevant — the feed is mostly chronological, so old tweets will never resurface unless someone retweets them.
There are some ways to try to increase the effectiveness of tweets (such as retweeting or commenting on your old content) and make them more viral so that more of your fans see your message, but ultimately, you will never be able to send a tweet that reaches all of your fans.
If you want to definitively push important information to your Twitter followers, direct messaging is the only way to do that.
That isn't to say tweeting isn't important — since direct messaging works best with your current followers, tweeting is a great way to be more public and obtain new followers. That said, messages that are important to you (such as a product announcement or a call-to-action) are much less likely to be viral and attract attention like a funny or interesting tweet, so in order to promote what is important to you, you'll need to balance tweets with direct messages.
How to send a DM on Twitter
To send a direct message on Twitter, you'll want to navigate to your "messages" tab, which is marked with a small envelope icon.
From this screen, you'll see previous direct messages (DMs) that you have sent (if any,) or you will be able to use the envelope with a plus sign (+) to compose a new direct message.
You can type in one or more Twitter users' names in order to make a direct message between just the two of you, or several accounts at once.
Once you've selected who to send the DM to, type out your message in the text box, and then tap the arrow to send it!
Although a group message might seem like a great way to reach your followers en masse, we wouldn't recommend it. A group message is a shared conversation between everyone; if one of your followers replies, everyone in the group will get that message too.
This is where people turn to outside tools (like ours!) that integrate with Twitter in order to create several new direct messages in parallel all at once, without having to copy and paste the same DM over and over.
Why automate your Twitter Direct Messages (DMs)
Beyond sending direct messages in bulk (which we offer!), you'll also probably want to automate the entire process of sending DMs.
Because your audience is constantly changing (and hopefully growing,) there will always be new accounts that you can send direct messages to. While sending DMs in bulk helps solve part of the problem, it would still be very time-intensive to figure out which Twitter accounts you haven't direct messaged yet, and then writing a bulk message to them all.
Instead, the ideal solution is to automatically send a direct message to all of your new Twitter followers shortly after they follow your account.
How automating Twitter DMs can improve your business
Let's imagine that beyond writing awesome tweets, you also have something like a Patreon where your followers can pay you money to help support the content you create. You might be writing tweets for free, but you are also probably hoping that some of the people who like your tweets will also pay to support your work.
The traditional approach is to simply put the link to your Patreon (or whatever platform you use) in your Twitter bio. While some of your followers will click this link, your bio is something that users will rarely see, and won't really be on the top of their minds.
In contrast, you could send new followers a really quick message:
Hey there, thanks for the follow! I'm guessing you saw some of my funny tweets and were looking to see more. Twitter is a great place for that, but I have even more content over at [link]. Feel free to check that out, and hope you enjoy!
To most people, this is a sweet message that isn't too forceful, and might actually pique their interest so that they click the link and look at more of your content.
But for you, this is immensely more valuable than just a link in your bio. This is a chance for you to increase your profits by encouraging your audience to engage with you where it benefits you most.
If you aren't automatically letting your followers know how they can best support you, you are leaving money on the table every day.
What not to do when writing a Twitter DM
It's very easy to get really excited about sending automated messages to your followers, and then see lackluster results because you didn't take the time to write a good direct message.
Here are some things that you should avoid when writing a Twitter direct message.
Don't be overly promotional
While ultimately the point of your direct message might be to promote something to your Twitter followers, being overt and in-your-face about it won't help your cause.
Including phrases like "Buy now" or "discount expiring soon" don't make your account feel genuine, it makes you feel like a used car salesperson.
The goal of any direct or private message is to be personal, then secondarily to promote your goals.
Don't make it feel like spam
Just because you aren't pushing the accounts you direct message to buy something, doesn't mean your DM won't feel like spam.
Being repetitive, overly wording, or using too many emojis will make your message feel like noise.
Give your followers a reason to care about what you are sending them, and they actually will care!
Don't make it impersonal
Being too direct and simply stating something as dry as "check out this link" does not make people feel good. While in some cases people appreciate brevity, a message sent directly to them isn't one of them. Don't sound like a robot — use complete sentences, show some emotion, and don't be afraid to be a little bit fun!
How to write better Twitter DMs
Now that you know what not to do, here are some simple tips to keep in mind when crafting that first message that you'll send to new followers.
The best way to make your direct messages feel personal is to introduce yourself and explain what your account is all about. When working with automation, it's easy to feel like a robot — briefly introducing yourself in the message keeps things light and personal.
While following you might be a small, simple act, it might make sense to thank your new follower for the support. Sometimes specificity works really well here, such as mentioning "I've been trying to get to [number] of followers for awhile, and your support is really helping me get there!" Your fans will appreciate the honestly and humbleness of the sentiment, and it can go a long way to driving your business goals.
Ask your followers an interesting question (if it makes sense)
It may not always make sense to encourage your followers to reply to your automated message (because then you will have to spend time replying back, or ignore them.) However, especially if you are still early in your Twitter account's growth, it could be a great tactic to ask your followers an interesting question that they can reply to.
I've personally developed a lot of dedicated and engaged followers that love retweeting my content by first engaging with them over direct messages. While I automatically messaged all of my new followers, the ones with the potential to be super fans actually messaged back to answer my questions, and I was able to establish strong brand value.
Have the right tone
In general, if you aren't sure what your tone should be, err on the side of being grateful that this account decided to follow you on Twitter.
For some accounts, it might make sense to be more edgy — for example, YouTuber Philip DeFranco starts his show by saying "hello you beautiful bastards," and that's part of the personality that his fans enjoy. Bringing that energy to his direct messages could be a fun way to continue that feeling outside of his videos. While this may or may not be your brand, finding your voice and continuing that energy into your DMs is likely something your fans will enjoy and be more receptive too
Check the formatting before you send it to everyone
Sometimes Twitter will change the formatting in a way you didn't expect. The best way to catch this isn't by realizing it after you've sent a message to dozens of followers — it's by sending it once to a friend or a test account to confirm that it looks just like you want it to.
Creating your first automated DM
Because Twitter itself doesn't support sending bulk or automated direct messages, you'll have to use an external tool (like us!) to make this possible.
Utilizing another service to help you use Twitter might sound scary, or like it is against the rules, but it's not! Twitter actually has infrastructure in place for other services like us to interface with their platform to access your direct messages, and send DMs on your behalf. It's only against Twitter's rules to use these services in a spammy or unsolicited way.
You'll need to start by making an account with us so you can send automated DMs. We offer a week free trial so that you can see how powerful this ability can be, and we make it very easy to cancel our service without ever charging your credit card if you find out that it isn't for you. You can sign up here, or by clicking the button in the navbar up above.
Once your account is set up, you'll be able to customize and save your automated message in less than a minute by following the on-screen instructions, plus you will have access to lots of other great superpowers to help you get the most out of your Twitter usage.
We're excited for you to see the power of Twitter DMs for your business — if you need any help on your journey, feel free to reach out to us on Twitter, we are happy to help!