Direct Message Marketing: Brilliant Strategy or Spammy No-No?

LinkedIn InboxDirect messages are a bit of a pet peeve of mine basically because I feel there is a ton of misuse. The two platforms, LinkedIn and Twitter, seem to be the ones with the most direct message activity so those are the platforms I’m going to focus on for this post.

Let’s start with LinkedIn.

Most times the direct messaging starts on LinkedIn when you are invited to connect with someone or you invite them to connect with you. Once the invitation is accepted on either side, the direct messaging is used as a way of acknowledging the invitation and introducing yourself. All too often, people will take that opportunity to give you a sales pitch. It’s quite inappropriate in my opinion and I often want to reply with something snarky such as, “It would be nice if you bought me dinner first before trying to take me home” but in all honesty I just don’t want to encourage any further communication with them.

The reason the LinkedIn DM’s don’t bother me as much as the Twitter DM’s is because of the way the invitation process works on LinkedIn. I am all for sharing what you do for a living and sharing information on your products and services. That is what social media marketing is all about however I just feel that a first message should not be a sales pitch. How would you feel if you walked into a brick and mortar store, let’s say a clothing store, and the sales person walks up to you with a shirt in their hand and said, “Hey, do you want to buy this?” Give me a minute. Give me time. Give me time to get to know you. Give me time to familiarize myself with your store and what you have to offer. Once you know me a little better than by all means, please make recommendations that you feel are in my best interest.

Here is an example of a DM that I received on LinkedIn and actually loved. I had asked to connect with Halelly Azulay and thankfully she accepted my connection invitation with the screenshot that you see here.


I felt welcomed by this DM. I felt that she was giving me information on how I could get to know her better via her newsletter. I was happy to have the opportunity to get to learn more about her, her business, and what she offers. It was not in any way salesy or slimy and was certainly more warm and welcoming than the majority of DM’s I receive after an invitation to connect.

Here is an example of the opposite approach. It’s probably a flaw of mine but I have a low tolerance for this type of stuff and it doesn’t matter what platform it’s on, when I get a direct message such as this one I will immediately unfollow. Even if their product or service may be exactly what I needed I would never find out.

LinkedIn bad example

On Twitter, the thing that frustrates me most is the auto-responders. I’m not going to sit here and claim that you should never use an auto-responder. I’m sure they are a very important time management tool for many people however I don’t usually get 100 new followers a day so I can still welcome by followers the old-school way with a public customized tweet such as this one.

My twitter welcome example

Tip: Even if you choose to use an  auto-responder, take the time to make the message more welcoming and inviting and not an immediate sales pitch.

Here is one of my favorite direct messages that I ever received after following someone. It is from Wade Harman.

Wade example

Getting this DM response made me feel welcomed and appreciated. The thing people tend to forget is when you follow someone you are essentially saying “I want to get to know you better. I want to learn more about your products and services. I want to read the content that you create and in exchange for that I am willing to give you space in my timeline. I’m willing to take my time each day to see what you are publishing. I’m also willing to give you access to my network since I will most likely be sharing your content via a retweet or contributing to the conversation via a comment.”

The fact that Wade used the word “honored” really struck a cord with me. It told me that he gets it. Wade understands that a follow isn’t just a follow but it is a vote of confidence and it’s someone willing to give some of their precious time to him, his business, and his content. Bravo!

On the other hand, this example garners an immediate unfollow. Again, way too pushy, way to salesy. They didn’t take a bit of time to get to know me, my interest, or even look at my timeline.

Twitter bad DM example

You’re probably thinking that the reason I get these salesy DM’s is because I don’t look into the person before following them. I actually do look at every person before making that decision. I don’t automatically follow someone back simply because they follow me. That is a personal choice. Many people feel it is appropriate to “follow for follow” but I do not and you can read why that’s my policy in next week’s blog post. :)  In many cases, before I follow someone I do see that they have products or services for sale which is what initially peaks my interest and that’s why I followed them. I want to learn more but I am not interested in a business who uses what I consider to be the “uninformed” sales approach. As a consumer, I am not going to make a purchase without doing my research first and I appreciate any business that helps me do that before trying to go in for the sale.

So if you are using a Direct Message Marketing approach I would encourage you to revisit that content of the messages you are sending and the timeliness of the messages. The approach must work because so many businesses do use it however, as with any marketing, please give it some thought and try to see it from the eyes of your potential clients.

I’d love to continue to chat about this conversation so pop on over to Facebook and post your comments and/or questions there. Can’t wait to hear what you think.

Thanks for reading~



1 Comment

  1. Hey Michele, this is a great post and one a lot of have problems with grasping. Since I sent you that DM, (automated of course) I started to see the problem with sending DM’s. Even DM’s that welcome people. There were more people that said these messages were just spam. So, not wanting to spam people I took it off.

    Now, there’s a tool that my Twitter account is linked to called that automatically sends people follow messages like I had before to their DM inbox. I’m wondering if I should unplug that feature as well? I’m still on the fence about it. Definitely don’t want to spam because some people aren’t as nice as you are about it.

    Come and see me on Google+ sometime :)