When I spoke at the Cool Twitter Conference in Los Angeles recently (I’ll be speaking there again in San Francisco on September 24 and in Orange County, CA on November 5), there were many in attendance who mentioned that they didn’t even use their personal email anymore to communicate with their friends. After all, all of their friends were on Twitter, and they all had their Twitter accounts activated so that Direct Messages sent to them would automatically be sent to their cell phones. Why bother with email?
In fact, a friend at the conference asked why I hadn’t responded to her recent Direct Message. After all, I had received it on my cell phone, right? Wrong! The default setting for in Twitter is that you do not receive text messages from Twitter Direct Messages on your cell phone, the simple reason being that it could cost you money and therefore needs your approval. I used to have email notices sent to me when I received Direct Messages, but like many other people, I chose not to receive them because that is exactly what the spammers want to happen!
Long story short, I only read my Twitter Direct Messages when I access Twitter to tweet. I look at them after I look at my @Replies. But, to be honest with you, I am starting to not even bother looking at them anymore…
Twitter Direct Messages: Why I Don’t Read Them Anymore
With more than 20,000 followers, it is true that I get more communications in general than the average Twitter user. But with so many people joining Twitter, and so many companies seeing Twitter as a new marketing channel, it is not hard to imagine any Twitter user quickly increasing their follower count into the hundreds over the next several weeks should they choose to do so. And with that will come an influx of both Automated Direct Messages and clearly Direct Messages that I would refer to as spam.
I did my best by telling people why you should not send Automated Direct Messages on Twitter. I would spend time actually replying to every Direct Message I received with a shortcut to that post. Well, as you can imagine, it has done nothing to stop the influx of Direct Messages, although I may have lost some followers in the process.
The net-net is that, despite the spam filters that I have put in place (which I will blog about in the future), I sometimes receive over 100+ Direct Messages in one day! You can imagine how important communications can get lost in here, so I am starting to tell friends who use Twitter Direct Messages to either send me an @Reply (preferable), or if it is personal to send me an old fashioned email
If you think about it, LinkedIn and Facebook do not have this problem because only Twitter has an API that allows 3rd parties to create an Automated Direct Message application. If Twitter would simply start disallowing people to utilize those automated services, I think that my Direct Messages would be readable again.
Of course, if too many people start sending too many @Replies that should not be for public consumption, another issues is raised. Social Media Today had an interesting article on this subject recently entitled “Eight Twitter Habits That May Get You Unfollowed,” and indeed the article recommends that many people should use the Direct Message instead of an @Reply to send a personal message. I think a healthy portion of @Replies, if done properly, actually shows a personable side to you that will hopefully strengthen your brand. Rule of thumb: if it’s something you wouldn’t be embarrassed to mention in front of others that can overhear you at a Starbucks, I think you’re OK putting it in an @Reply, so long as you tweet @Replies in moderation.
So that’s my new policy: I will not read Twitter Direct Messages anymore. And I will ask my friends who “DM” me to send me an @Reply or email wherever possible. How about you? Do you still use Twitter Direct Messages efficiently? Do any of you have a similar experience? Would love to hear from you!