Social media is such an amazing thing. It allows us to connect with people all over the world and share our opinions and our work. As authors, it gives us the potential to find new readers and connect with other writers.
Of course, because there are so many people on social media, it’s easy to get lost and buried in the vast amount of posts. Not to mention, analytics (especially on Facebook) often work against you. Even if you have tons of followers, the vast majority of them probably won’t see your posts.
So, as a way to stand out, you might be tempted to send new followers a DM on Twitter. You can even automate the process so it happens right after someone follows you. This allows you to send more information about where they can find your books or you on the Internet.
However, you might be annoying people more than you’re helping yourself.
Several years ago, when I first started really getting into Twitter and using it to build my platform, everyone was using DMs. If I followed 10 people a day, I probably received 8 DMs. Most of them were from authors, and I found myself confused by some of the messages they were sending.
I get that you want to stand out from the crowd, but sending followers messages like
“I’ll gargle acid if you don’t buy my book!”
“Buy my book so gnomes won’t come to your house and kill you while you sleep!”
How are those supposed to sell your book?
Thankfully, I haven’t gotten any like this for a while, but every so often, I still get DMs. Most of the time, they are links to Facebook pages or pages to buy whatever it is the person is selling (authors aren’t the only ones who use DMs). Once, I got a hilarious joke.
I’ll be honest, I might open your DM just to see what you have to say, but I often don’t keep it unless there’s something in there that I think is going to benefit me. Is that awful? Maybe, but I think it’s the mindset of the vast majority of the population. I enjoy helping my fellow authors out, and I don’t mind you telling me about your books, but if you expect a sale, I need to know that it’s worth my hard-earned money and time. More often than not, just sending a link to the buy page isn’t going to do that.
For the most part, the DMs have toned down and aren’t so weird, but some people still find them pretty annoying. There are articles that explain why you shouldn’t send auto DMs and gives you some ideas of things you can do instead. As I said, I may open the messages and see what you have to say, but rarely—very rarely—do I click on the link to buy what you’re selling.
In addition, I find it incredibly annoying when someone sends me an auto DM under the guise that they are not sending an auto DM. I’m sure you’ve seen these. They ask you a question like they are interested in getting to know you. Several times, I’ve responded to these questions and never received a reply. That hurts my feelings. I was truly hoping to make a connection with someone on the other end.
Oh! And then there are the DMs that require me to verify that I’m a real person so that I can follow someone. I get it: being spammed by autobots and people offering to get you 5 million followers is annoying, but so is having to verify that I’m a real person. It’s only one click, but that one click takes times away from my day, and most of the time, I’m not willing to click it.
Auto DMs are so loathed, it may hurt your chances of gaining new followers. If someone is afraid that you are going to send them a message, they might scroll right past you. There are other ways to get followers to click on your links or find you on Facebook, and it’s not in an auto DM. That info should be in your profile so that people can click on it if they want. I know that you don’t have a lot of space, which means you’ll have to be creative in how you present your work.
And, technically speaking, you shouldn’t be using social media to sell your stuff; you should be using it as a way to connect with others. Sure, you can tell them that you’re a writer and share links to your books or let them know when things are on sale, but you shouldn’t be shouting “BUY MY BOOK!” because that doesn’t work to sell books.
As an author, you want to be seen and get your work into the world. Using social media gives you the opportunity to connect with potential readers and fans and other writers around the world. For the sake of their sanity and to increase the potential of getting new followers, perhaps it’s time to think twice about using auto DMs.