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The Twitter Autoresponder

July 13, 2016


I’ve been having a conversations on Twitter. Yeah! I know. It’s what you’re meant to do. Don’t stop the presses.


But this conversation was notable because it was with Digital Marketer Ed Leake.  Ed’s trialling auto responders.  His begins “Let’s be honest, this is an automated message …” Which has a degree of authenticity to it. Full marks to Ed for experimenting- and for making me think more deeply about their use.


Now, I feel a little mean because I’ve named Ed as I declare up front that for the most part I hate Twitter autoresponders. Too few serve a useful purpose. Most are trying to get me to do something I don’t want to do.


Someone has just followed or contacted you. This may be your first direct communication with them. Too often the technology is misused, resulting in a massive #fail.


My personal pet peeves are:

  • sending me to another social media platform. I’m on Twitter. I’ve chosen to engage with you here. Why be here at all if you don’t want to engage?

  • “thanks for the follow”. Not going to make me scream with rage, but my phone alerted me for this? Not warming me to you.

  • learn more about our program, product, service….I’m on Twitter – engage and delight me here and I’ll take a look with more purpose AND be more likely to ‘convert’.

  • overdone marketing tone. An example: “Thank you for following [name removed]! We are very excited about this project and love that you want to be a part of it. [hashtag removed] Join UP…” Had this commercial organisation been a little less rara/marketing and a bit more inclusive, it could have worked. Try making me feel special, that you want and need me (even on an autoresponder!)

  • the instant demand. “Please can you Re-tweet our pinned post? ” I don’t know you yet, I only just followed you. Straight to bed with no foreplay. May work for some I suppose…

But they can prove useful:

  • likely customer service response times or links to current ‘outage’ messages (useful, actionable information)

  • soliciting information or offering help (see tone, above)

  • rally me around your cause (not your sales)

  • offer me something free or exclusive only to Twitter followers (publicly available YouTube posts don’t count!)

We can, as marketers, get lost in little bubbles, thinking that everyone has the same need and urgency around our products and services as we do. They don’t. We are interrupting them and taking their attention. We may only have that luxury once: that unfollow button makes it as quick and easy to disengage as engage (and I confess on some days to having been so grumpy that an autorespond was an automatic unfollow). Linking to audio or video files may cause embarrassment for the user in the workplace. Sure, maybe they shouldn’t be on Twitter during work hours, but do you want to be the brand that busted them?


Like most things social media, there is never a straight forward right or wrong. There are rules that are begging to be broken in creative ways. The only sound advice that anyone can give is to start with what you want to achieve on a platform and why. From there it should be easier to see who the people you engage with are, and what they might value.  In most cases the answer won’t be ‘to spend more time being sent to a different platform because you’re too lazy to do it here’. Natch?

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