Excuse me for a minute. I'm about to get on my marketing high horse. For a while now I've been getting more than a little frustrated about receiving auto DMs on twitter. My view is they're impersonal and lazy, and tonight I got talking to some other businesses who echoed my thoughts exactly. Let me explain to you why I'm not a fan...
Imagine this, you're size 14, and have headed into town for a little black dress for a forthcoming party. You walk into a shop and with little more than a fleeting hello, the salesperson puts a size 8 pink shellsuit in front of your face and abruptly tells you to buy it. Oh and while you are at it they want you to sign up to their mail order catalogue. What would you do? Buy it? Sign up? I doubt it... you'd probably think, or worse tell them, that they were pushy and rude and walk back out of the door!
You then go next door, and the salesperson thanks you for visiting their store, and offers you assistance politely. You decline and they graciously withdraw, or when you explain you need a dress for a special occasion they show interest in helping you find the perfect item. In short making you feel like an individual and important to their business. You'd be flattered right? It's likely you'd go back again in the future!
So, tell me why do people feel it is ok to not bother with good old fashioned personal customer service when you are online? Like my previous blog about asking other businesses for favours, it is really counter productive. Don't get me wrong as a marketer I understand the value of using tools to help make tasks that little bit more efficient but these should enhance your business and I would argue that making people think that they are just another notch on your twitter count is not doing that.
Sure every time we're tweeting from a business account we have sales on our agenda but
no one likes a hard sell these days. The marketing industry has moved more and more towards customer focussed marketing selling benefits rather than just features and products. A bank no longer sells you a current account, it offers you a lifestyle. A sports brand doesn't sell you running shoes, it sells you speed and sportsmanship. In my day job I don't sell opera tickets, I'm selling you an emotive experience. Unless small businesses start to realise this they will never catch up with established brands.
Also in a world where we can target our audience people expect more and more tailored messages. It can be a bit big brother but it is the way the world has shifted, and while we might grumble about it on occasion, we also kind of like it. We all want to be treated as individuals. Let's face it how do you know I'm going to love your beauty products, baby booties or candles if you don't even take the time to find out what my account is about? I love the enthusiasm but quite frankly its presumptuous to tell people what to think about your product. Plus you don't know what the person on the receiving end is going through and the wrong product could easily offend or upset, even without intention.
Then there is the grey area about how you use your twitter followers. Yes, they hit that button because they were interested in your business, or if they were a business themselves wanted to offer support so chose to follow your feed, but actually they didn't opt into direct marketing communications. So technically you aren't authorised to send sales messages. Customer service messages yes, but anything that is promoting a service or product would be classed as marketing. And on top of that you have the whole twitter best practice can of worms. Did you know that twitter state that it is a breach of their rules if you send auto DM without expressed user consent from the recipient? Users must request to receive these message or otherwise as a business you must indicate an intent to send direct messages in advance. I can't say any business that has sent me a DM out of the blue in the past year has this concent from me. Can you?
So, that is why I find auto tweets unprofessional. It contradicts every marketing best practice in the book. Removes you from the heart of you business but worst of all omits the focus being on the customer and not your sale targets. They may make your life a little bit easier, but can you really say they are doing your business reputation any good? To a lot of people I'd say not. So for me, I'd prefer to maybe have slightly less contact with my customers but can rest safe in the knowledge that the communication they receive is personal, individual and right for them.