This is another in my “Do This, Not That” series for social media practices — especially for musicians, but really for everyone. Check out the whole series including “mean or nice” and “support your friends“. Be sure to read the comments on those previous posts, too. You're invited to add your thoughts on this subject in the comments at the end of this post.
Automated DM's (Direct Messages) have recently and thought-provokingly been covered by my social network friends Christine “Rose” Infanger and Solveig Whittle. Be sure to check out their posts, web sites, and their social media links by clicking on their names in that previous sentence.
My friend Steve Birkett answered my request for pet peeves about musicians on social media this way: “The immediate DMs on Twitter with a link to music and little else. Double that if they appear as an automated response within seconds of connecting.” And added, “The flip is, assuming anyone still checks their DM box, a personalized message is a great way to stand out. Look at the person's interests and find a mutual connection point… it takes more time, but what price a new fan?” A perfect Do This, Not That from someone who really gets the music business.
By the way, TrueTwit is just another robot. It does not not achieve what it claims and is very anti-social. I never click-through TrueTwit validation requests. The best way to find out if Tweeps are real people is to interact with them.
What's a “bot mention” anyway?
Every day, I get messages on Twitter — sent to me as a mention because the other person included my Twitter name @muz4now in the message — asking me to check out a song. Too many of them are automated or bot mentions. I do not listen to songs that are sent in bot mentions.
This bot mention approach is a pet peeve of my friend Linda Freeman. “When people send me a message and want to make it sound personal, but send out identical messages to many other people. This is most obvious on Twitter, where I look at the profile of someone new who tweets me. For example, someone may tweet, ‘I love your music and you have a great future ahead of you. Could you give my music a listen?' When I go to their tweets, I see that they've sent identical messages out to at least 20 other people. First, I know that the message is insincere just from its wording. Second, it really is a turnoff when I see they've sent the same message to lots of other people.”
Does this mean that you should never use automation of any kind? No. There are dozens of types of automation that help you save time with anything from publicizing your gigs on social media to creating a new post on your social networks each time you post a blog. If you scan my posts on Twitter, you'll definitely figure out that I use my share of automation to keep my tweet stream lively. But if you are setting up your Twitter account just so that you can let Songkick or some other service post automatically to it and you never plan to look at what your fans and friends are saying (in general or especially to you), then skip it.
Sure, social networking is a marketing tool, but it is social first. Interact with the people who connect with you. Interact with people you want to be connected with. Start conversations. Respond to posts by your friends with questions, re-shares, likes/favs, and so on. Then, I think it's fine and expected if you happen to intermingle a few automated posts about upcoming gigs or whatever. Just don't send them as a mention. Let your friends and fans see them on their own. If you have specific people you want to invite to come to a gig or listen to a song, then send it by hand, just for them.
Wow! If you read all the way to here, you are really ready for the next in this series. On the way…