By Princess Jones

Twitter is a great way to market your business, but it only works if you’ve got the right audience. It’s important that you’re following the right accounts and that you gain followers that want to hear your message. It’s a delicate balance.

Recently, I’ve been participating in some Twitter follow back threads in some of my Facebook groups. Follow back threads work really well if you’re doing them with people you actually want to follow and who would care about the things you’re tweeting about. Both of the groups I did mine with were niche groups. Each person comments with a link to their Twitter profile. Then they follow all of the people who have commented above them. It’s helped me meet a lot of new people in certain industries.

It’s also been an eye opening experience because so many people are still using auto direct messages (DMs), the scourge of the Twitterverse.

Auto DMs are Apparently Still Alive

An auto DM is a Twitter direct message that someone send to new followers through the aide of a third party app. Auto DMs have been widely hate for many years. I remember reading articles about auto DMers weren’t worth it as far back as 2010.

Think about Twitter as a really, really big party. There are lots of people to meet and connect with. You can hop in and out of conversations however you like. So imagine that you meet someone in this party and instead of introducing themselves or getting to know you, they said a pre-recorded message and handed you a business card with a link on it. And then imagine that when you tried to talk to them, they walked away and continued to do that to other people in the room.

That’s what auto DMs are like at their worst. People sending out generic messages with a link to a newsletter or a book instead of genuinely interacting with followers. In the best cases, it’s ignored. But it’s considered spam by most people. Some will unfollow you as soon as you do it. And the last thing it does is promote engagement.

What To Do Instead

Auto DMs — as annoying as they are — come from good intentions. Everyone leads busy lives and marketing is a full time job in addition to running your business. Many of us turn to automation to help with some of the tasks.

It’s not the automation that’s the problem. There are a lot great ways to automate your Twitter feed. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer prove that you can manage your Twitter feed in ways that don’t turn off the very people you’re trying to attract.

The problem becomes when it seems you are more concerned with marketing yourself than interacting with your followers. Instead of sending them a spammy message, check out their feed. Like something they posted. Or better yet, respond to something they posted. Compliment them on something they’re doing over in their part of the social media world. Just interact with them, even if it’s to say it’s nice to meet them and you look forward to their tweets.

There’s still the time aspect of it. It feels like none of us have enough of it but you have to make time for social media marketing. Some find that breaking it down to a few minutes a day is beneficial. They log in, see who’s followed them, check out the profiles, and then interact from there. Others may schedule certain posts weekly but spend a hour or so once a week maintaining the accounts. Even if you have to get a virtual assistant to help out, it’s worth it to be a real presence on social media if you want to reap real benefits.