Why do so many tweeps use auto-follow and auto-dm services?
I suspect they are using the automated services because they want to build up a following but do not want to put the work into maintaining a good high quality following. There is a fairly recent trend on Twitter, especially amongst the newer users, to confuse quantity with quality. There seems to be some sort of bragging rights associated with having the biggest following amongst your friends.
There is no rational justification for building a large, random, meaningless follower base. Why would it matter if you have thousands of followers but have nothing useful or valuable to say to them.
If you are entertaining, insightful, knowledgeable on a particular subject or are a celebrity in your own right there is a good chance you will have a large follower base. This is because you are providing your followers with something of value.
What is auto-follow?
Auto-follow services monitor your follower list and automatically follow-back anyone who follows you.
Twitter validation services are a kind of auto-follow service whereby the person using the auto-follow service wants to auto-follow but wants to avoid following bot-maintained and therefore probable spammer accounts. I will have more to say about Twitter validation soon.
Auto-DM services are used as part of an auto-follow service, to respond to DMs and to respond to monitored words or phrases from followers.
There is automated tweeting, where you plan ahead to tweet to promote something, such as an event or a new blog posting. That kind of automated tweeting is helpful to you and to your community.
Why use auto-follow services?
Obviously there are some features of auto-follow that make it attractive, otherwise it would not be such a popular option. As far as I can tell the main benefits to using auto-follow are:
- Automate your follower management, thereby saving you time.
- Encourage others to follow you with the promise that you will reciprocate.
- Avoid falling foul of the perceived twitter etiquette for follow-backs.
Let’s look at each.
Ok, I must admit that using an auto-follow service will save time. But I would caution you that you will get back what you put into twitter.
Build a large following
Is the size of the following what matters?
You will have a timeline filled with meaningless irrelevant and potentially even spammy tweets.
Etiquette of follow-backs
There is no official guide to twitter etiquette. Anyone using this service faces the same time constraints as you. I check my followers list from time to time but not more then twice per week. I can and usually will not follow back new followers until I go through and manage my following. The exception to this is if someone has mentioned me, bringing them more directly into my awareness, and I want or ought to DM a response. Although I can DM anyone who is following me I will not DM anyone unless I am following them and they are following me back. I do wish Twitter would enforce two way connection before allowing DMs.